When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are.
Anything your heart desires will come to you.
If your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star as dreamers do.
Ah, would that it were so. If ol’ Jiminy Cricket had it right and all it took was wishing…
MD and I get a lot of mail from viewers of our cooking show on PBS, most of which are from folks wondering where we get certain ingredients, or telling us that the recipes on our website are missing an ingredient, or requesting – as many people are wont to do – our advice on specific medical issues. Some letter writers make comments on specific shows or give advice on how to make future shows better. Some are enthusiastic supporters; some are critical. Take for example an excerpt from the following letter:
I think your show is very informative for us diabetics, however, you should really talk more to the camera (AKA the viewers) instead of each other when doing the recipes.
Also, Dr. Michael needs to either help more or just let Dr. Mary do the show herself. I don’t think it looks nice that he stands there and drinks his coffee. He always seems to be in the way and he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty.
Perhaps if I follow through on Resolution #4, letters like this one will be a thing of the past.
Other letters just make me shake my head. For example, we received the letter excerpted below:
I am diabetic with heart problems. My main problem is that I like carbohydrates even though the consequences are often elevated blood sugar levels above 225.
I have been looking for a diet which could do the following:
Allow me to maintain blood sugar levels of 125 or less. Is not a diet of punishment or denial of foods I like.
Result in weight loss. (note: I weigh 252 lbs and I am 5 feet seven inches tall) Increase my longevity and resurrect my sex life which has gone south due to diabetes. I am looking for a simple diet which would be highly repetitious which would deal with my problems.
This letter writer goes on to detail the diet he is currently following, which, although it contains a fair amount of protein, is not remotely a low-carb diet, though he seems to think it is. In addition to his semi-sort-of-pseudo low-carb diet he mentions that:
Sometimes I have two pieces of cake and two or three scoops of ice cream but not at the same time.
He then cuts to the chase:
If possible, I require two things from you.
1. An uncomplicated, tasty, low carbohydrate diet which would result in significantly lowered blood sugars, reduction of insulin intake and weight loss.
2. I would need the name of a physician in [name of city withheld], familiar with your diet, with whom I could consult and monitor my progress.
So, to boil it down to its essence, here is what this reader wants. A diet that lets him eat what he wants, lose weight like crazy, rid him of his diabetes, and cure his heart disease. People who think like this inspire the allusion to the Disney When You Wish Upon a Star song. If only wishing would make it so.
But it doesn’t.
Anyone who has lost weight following any kind of a diet, including a low-carb diet, has worked at it. Let me put this in capital letters. LOSING WEIGHT IS NOT EASY. KEEPING IT OFF IS LESS EASY YET.
I believe that following a low-carb diet is the easiest, most effective, most healthful way for a person to lose weight, but it still isn’t easy. It’s hard work requiring effort, planning, and diligence. The only truly easy diet is to eat whatever you want whenever you want and to hell with the consequences. That’s a snap. So, if it’s easy you want, there is your plan.
Losing weight is a difficult proposition at best. But so is getting a college education, getting up and going to work everyday, maintaining a household, nurturing relationships, rearing children, keeping your yard looking nice, and doing most of the things we all do to keep the bills paid and our lives moving along. No one thinks these things are easy. You don’t find books on the Professor’s Quick Guide to a College Degree in Three Days. Or The Gardener’s Guide to a Perfect Lawn in 10 Minutes per Week. Or Rearing Perfect Children Effortlessly. Or Get and Keep the Job of your Dreams in One Easy Lesson. These things are all absurd and we know they are all absurd, but somehow we all keep thinking that weight-loss should be easy if we could but find the perfect diet that allows us to eat the all foods we love and never be hungry again.
When you wish upon a star…
If you have lost a significant amount of weight, give yourself a pat on the back because you have accomplished one of the most difficult feats imaginable. If you’ve lost weight and kept it off for at least five years, you deserve thunderous applause.
In the coming year MD and I will share our knowledge and experience with you to give you the tools you need to lose weight and improve your health as easily as possible, but don’t think it’s going to be a cake walk. It will take perseverance and effort on your part, but the rewards will be worthwhile.
And although MD and I will help, it’s up to you to do the work. As I tell patients that I counsel with one on one: I’m like the Auto Club. When you go to the Auto Club for directions, the people there give you a detailed map showing explicitly how to get from point A to point B, but they don’t get in the car and drive you.
You’ve got to drive this weight-loss car yourself.
Make this the year that you buckle yourself in and do it.