Wednesday, February 25, 2009

30% of the population is under the poverty line

That's in India. And, I am not even sure that's the correct count. These are the people who live by the railroad tracks, under bridges in shacks made of whatever they can find. These are the people who have kids by the dozens, most of whom probably die before reaching a decent age. These are the folks who will never see 3 square meals a day, forget about the proper number of calories and gms of nutrients. So, when this is the true case of almost 300 million people in India, why did so many of my Indian friends not like the movie that showed that honest truth to the world?

Most of the things I have heard are complaints about the movie focusing on the negative images of India. My response is they were true images; nothing was fabricated. That is one side of India. To see the other glamorous, Levi's wearing, Honda driving, Pizza Hut eating side, I can watch any other movie Bollywood puts out. And, then I can also see them singing and dancing in Switzerland suddenly after a scene in a village in Punjab. Where's the reality there? I don't watch movies like Water, Provoked or Slumdog Millionaire to be enchanted by the glitter of Bollywood. And I know 2 of those 3 movies weren't even made in India/by an Indian. But, they are about issues as real to India and Indians as the fact that I noticed a grey hair on my head last weekend.

The awards that the movie won were justified. It competed against other similar and non-similar works of fiction. Whereas it might not be compared to Batman, it can be compared to The Reader which had a background of Nazi Germany. I haven't noticed it yet, but maybe some Germans out there are unhappy about that being showcased at the Oscars as well. I think the awards it won and was nominated for were the ones it deserved. It was obviously not nominated for best actor or actress because that wasn't the strongest point. No one individual in the movie was the best or worst. They all came together to show us the real India and the struggles of a population that is otherwise never really shown, not in all honesty, not in it's naked true glory! Ad, we still had the happy Bollywood ending. Boy gets girl, boy gets money, evil hoodlum dies.

In the end, I'd like to ask my friends, why is it so bad to show the rest of the world the ugly side of our country? Would we rather lie to them andhave them be shocked if they ever came to visit? Or, would we rather lay it out for everyone to see and maybe force some change to happen inside us and inside our nation? This question goes beyond the poverty issues, it goes to women's issues, it goes to religious issues, it goes to mental health issues, it goes to any existing issue that people would rather hide away than face it head on.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Gastric Bypass - the myth and the reality

This post has been a long time coming. It should have been writtenw hen I first made the decision to get this surgery and had people commenting anonymously about it beign the easy way out and the repurcussions etc. And, now, people are saying things like "I think people who get gastric bypass are taking the easy way out. I understand why people do it but I have a really hard time respecting their results. It's not like I look at them and think, "Wow, you worked SO HARD to get that skinny."" Well, time to set the record straight. And, don't bother commenting that that wasn't aimed at me. It was aimed at everybody who's had gastric bypass and that includes me.

1. You don't get "skinny" automatically with gastric bypass. Most people lose 50-70% of their excess body weight within a year and then it's up to the person. Which measn that somebody with a BMI of over 40 (which I was) can get down from severely obese to maybe the upper end of overweight within a year. Which means I am still fighting with 40-50 lbs of fat, which is more for people who go in with more excess weight. I was maybe at the lower end of the weight spectrum of the people I saw at my doctor's office.

2. The 1st year of weight loss, which might seem seamless and easy to most people is anything but. Somebody who's dieting and excercising can cheat and eat some chocolate or drink a shake and go through a guilt trip later. Somebody who's had gastric bypass has a piece of chocolate or a nice thick shake and they get chills, sweats, nausea, debilitating cramps sometimes. I would say it's harder after having had gastric bypass because I have to consciously think of every morsel and every sip that gets past my lips. Because I can't just say to myself, "oh, I had this piece of dessert, I guess I'll run an extra half mile in the morning or do 20 more crunches." Because sometimes that extra morsel or sip could land me back in the hospital. I also have to go to the gym, unless I wan't excess skin jsut hanging off my ass, arms and legs. The initial weight loss is too fast for the body's skin to keep up with. So, the gym it was, 2-3 times a week, with a trainer, so I can be sure I am doing the right things for myself.

3. Past the first year, now I am only at BMI 29.9. Yay, not obese anymore. But, the work's not done yet. I go to the gym 3-5 times a week. I run, do strength training, weight lifting, swim, whatever I can. Because if I don't, I don't lose weight. Worse still, I have heard stories of people who regain after this surgery. I am still fat. I need to work harder now to lose the rest of it.

4. Beyond the constant care of what we're eating and drinking, then there are the health issues. I take multivitamins, iron, calcium citrate and protein supplements daily. I get a Vitamin B12 shot monthly. I'll do this for the rest of my life. And yes, that was my decision. But, don't you dare tell me it was an easy decision.

So, yes, made a decision that to some people, might seem like the easy way out. But, it wasn't. It just gave me a tool to use for the rest of my life. It gave me a starting point that I could work with. Maybe I could have done it without the surgery. But, a whole six months of supervised diet, excercise and prescription medicines under my primary care physician didn't help. Actually, a whole 8 years of yo-yoing despite gyms, personal trainers, what diet can you name that I didn't try ... and I was ready for something drastic. And, I wasn't willing to lose more of my life and time to fat. To failing some more. To being depressed any longer.

Gastric Bypass has yet to make somebody "skinny" without effort. To be skinny even now after the surgery, I am going to have to work harder than ever in my life. So, do some research and get your facts straight. If, after that, your views don't sway even a bit, well I guess everybody's entitled to their blind prejudices.