When Life Lowers Your Physical Activity, You Don’t Have To Get Obese


My struggles with obesity are well known and well publicized.  Although my web page regarding weight loss hasn’t been updated lately, that will be changing soon, as I have some new focus on obesity — causes and treatment.

When you have an enforced lack of mobility, if you don’t deliberately lower your caloric intake, you are going to gain weight.

I’ve seen this time and time again from traffic accidents, sports injuries, and the like; mostly from injuries that affect the lower limbs.

To make matters worse, there is definitely a weight gain associated with the chronic use of pain medications.

Moreover, the lack of effective blood circulation when someone is immobilized can actually cause blood clots in your legs.  This causes considerably more than a chubby and discolored leg.  The resultant blood clot can actually break off from where it is anchored and go up the vein then head to the heart from the lower body (through the inferior vena cava) and through the heart and out the artery into the lung, killing off a part of that lung, and maybe the entire person.

Precautions are generally taken to avoid this sort of thing.

Nobody took them with my sweet brother, Harry, when he was hospitalized for something quite minor.  He died of this issue, so I always remember to tell people.

For both the weight gain and the pulmonary blood clots, things like compression socks and intermittently inflatable “booties” help.

There is some evidence that passive exercise is helpful, at least with circulation.  I haven’t seen a lot about passive exercise and prevention of weight gain, but it is definitely not harmful and may be quite helpful.

I have heard massage therapists swear by massage as an aid to weight loss.

The recommended types are lymphatic and deep tissue.

It would be expected to be some help with things such as the removal of toxins and the recovery of muscle from injury.

It feels great.

I simply would not ever rely on it without taking other (nutritional) measures at the same time.

If you can’t get a professional massage, give a friend some baby oil (to decrease friction) and permission to rub and massage you — it can’t hurt and at least will feel good.

As for pain medications, weight gain is not the only reason their use should be minimized.

They are wildly addictive.  Not only are they often overused, but treatments for misuse seem increasingly often to leave patients on prescription opioids for longer, sometimes indefinite periods of time.

The good news is that this makes it a heck of a lot less likely that someone is going to die from opiate overdose, a more frequent cause of death than it has ever been. In fact, the problem has been getting worse every year … check out the stats for 2014 and 2015.

The bad news is more something a doctor like me can observe than some things folks have done a lot of research on.

My observation is that people seem to me to be a little slower intellectually when they have been on medications of this sort for a long period of time.  It would be unscientific to state that they “lose IQ points.”

Of course, these may be people who never had that burning drive to become high achievers, anyway. I just can’t tell.

People put on weight because of hormonal factors.  There is, and should be, a weight gain associated with pregnancy.  The problem here comes when people do not lose the weight after pregnancy.  I have seen several women who continue to put on weight with each pregnancy throughout their lives.

In French medical school, where I did my (obligatory) rotation in obstetrics and gynecology, the attitude toward weight gain in pregnancy was very different.

The myths that the women of that country are especially attractive is not totally unfounded.  A fairly acceptable looking senior woman such as myself is referred to as “astiquee,” or polished and cared for, like an older copper pot.

I remember an especially attractive female obstetrician-gynecologist at my medical school.

She cut her hair when she married.  I heard her quote to patients that upon marriage, a woman must simplify her beauty regimen, as she will be busy — but she should never abandon her beauty regimen.

Remember, this is the country where my professor of histology also gave me fashion lessons, mainly because, as she informed me, in France, despite her level of education, a woman would always be judged by “the way she covered her back.”

Anyway, this obstetrician checked with an expectant mother at each pre-pregnancy visit to tell her exactly how much she had gained during the pregnancy — no blame, just numbers.  At the visits after the delivery, she would tell a woman, lovingly, “you still have so-many (a number of) kilos to lose.

There was never any doubt that such kilos would be lost, and I generally remember them to be largely lost without complaint, difficulty, or problem.

I think a significant part of weight-control is simply the part played by expectation.

There is a thing in the vocabulary of psychology called the “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

What you believe will happen very often does.

I always tell my patients that what they believe will cure them is indeed what cures them.

I simply ask them if they believe such a power can work through me.

It is not unusual to ask my patients if what they believe in can work with me.

This is why I often ask my Christian patients if they believe Christ can work through an old Jewish lady who happens to be a psychiatrist.

Luckily, they usually laugh and say “yes.”

Incidentally, another part of life where changes in a woman’s hormones are believed to lead to weight gain is menopause.

Curiously enough, as it goes its course it ends up with less hormones in a woman’s body and not more.

I have seen enough cases to believe that weight gain at menopause is no biological destiny, but rather something that can be averted.

There has been research, too.

A study a few years ago from the University of Pittsburgh used a fairly prosaic calorie restricted diet to show that for most women the projected weight gain around menopause could be totally avoided.

I think the self-fulfilling prophecy is the operative concept here.

If you can change what you believe for the better, the change in your life and well-being will surely follow.

As I proceed with my work combating obesity, my newsletter readers will be the first to find out what I have in store.  Are you signed-up yet?  It is free to opt-in, and as easy as putting your email address in that little blank form in the upper right-hand corner of this page.  You can opt-out at any time, and be assured that there will be NO spam and your private information will not be sold, traded or otherwise given out to anyone or any company.



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