Why We Gain Weight, How We Lose Weight - Indian Health Service

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Why We Gain Weight, How We Lose WeightThree Catawba Tribal MembersTell What Happened and What WorkedBy Cecilia Kayanoand RamonaDelost lostDeHarrisHarris30pounds.30 pounds.Kiyoshk (Ojibway)Photos byRamona Kiyoshk24 HealtH for Native life Number 13

WeiGHt loSS aND GettiNG fit are CoMPleX MatterS. TV and magazines try to makeit simple: exercise and eat less, and you will lose weight. But why we gain weight, andhow we are able to lose weight, isn’t just about our bodies.Our physical bodies are reflections of our hearts and minds. Many of us gain weightwhen we are depressed or stressed. We can lose weight when we are inspired byinformation, a loved one, or the Creator.These members of the Catawba Tribe in South Carolina are examples of the mind, soul, andbody connection. Together, they lost 80 pounds. They are still losing weight and getting fitter.To understand how they lost weight, we must first look at why they gained weight.Cindy Allen lost25 pounds. Depression and gaining weightOne of the most common reasons to gainweight is depression. When we are depressed,sometimes it is hard to just get out of bed andget dressed. The thought of walking for 30minutes or going to the gym is ridiculous.At the same time, our reason for eatingchanges. While depressed, food is no longera source of nutrition or fuel, it is a source ofcomfort. Something salty and crispy, or bakedand gooey, can make us instantly feel better.When De Harris lost her beloved mother,the last thing on her mind was staying fitand managing her weight. “I began to eatconstantly,” she remembers. “I ate whateverwas available. It didn’t matter. Eating wasfilling a void. I started eating sweets and ate alot of them.”When Cindy Allen’s beloved husbandbecame ill with cancer, Cindy was soemotionally distraught, she began to eat. “I justkept on eating, not doing anything else.”Cindy and her husband were so much ateam that when he lost his hair during cancertherapy, Cindy’s hair began to thin. “We wereso connected,” she says. When he died, Cindyexperienced months of sadness and weight gain.She ended up gaining 70 pounds. “It was like Igrew another whole person.” Now Cindy says,“Looking back, yes, I was probably depressed.”Samuel Beck had diabetes and was on ahealthy path when he was involved in a carTo order free magazines, go to www.diabetes.ihs.gov, click Online Catalog.Number 13 HealtH for Native life 25

mingCindy says overcofirstdepression was aght. Herstep to losing weifamily helped her.accident. One day he wasexercising and eating right, andthe next day, he had a brokenpelvis. He was put on painkillers. He could barely getaround. He could not exercise.For over three years, the oncetake-charge man did little morethan sit in an easy chair. He feltdefeated. The weight piled on. Depression’s gripDepression is a formidablefoe. De gives a vividdescription of its power,“My mom and I had alwayscelebrated holidays together.When she passed, I could nolonger get together with familymembers. I quit my job. Theonly thing I could do washousekeeping, because it wason my own time. I couldn’tdeal with other people.”Depression is powerful andcan last for a long time. De wasdepressed for five years. Cindywas depressed for four years.Samuel was lethargic andinactive for over three years.26 HealtH for Native life Number 13 Climbing out ofdepressionTo state it simply,depression can stop you inyour tracks and for a long time.Many say that it is almostimpossible to lose weight andget fit while depressed. Manysay that the first step to beinghealthy is to be happy.So how did De, Cindy, andSamuel climb out of the darkhole of depression? No onecan point to an exact moment.Rather, the way they recoveredfrom depression was a mixtureof spirit, information, andfamily. Help from aboveDuring her darkest days,De thought about suicide. “Theonly reason I wanted to takemy life was to be with mymom,” she says.The Creator and herspiritual beliefs gave herstrength. “I realized that ifI took my life, I would notaccomplish what I wantedbecause my Creator would not let me.” Following Nativebeliefs, De believes that suicideis wrong.De received help andsupport from her grownchildren, but mostly she foundher way out of depressionthrough her own will andprayer. She knew it was up toher to make positive changes.De was hired as a NursingAssistant at the CatawbaService Center. As if inresponse to her prayers, thesadness began to lift. Sheslowly began to change hereating and exercise habits,and in a few months, lost 30pounds. Help from familyand determinationAs Cindy’s depression waslifting, she was diagnosed withdiabetes. “That was my wakeup call,” she says.Her sisters and childrenhad supported her during herhusband’s illness, and theywere there for Cindy to helpher with diabetes. They joined

her in taking better care of herhealth by walking with her.When they went shopping, theyall read food labels.Cindy returned to oneof her former good habits:She started reading healthmagazines. She became reinspired to lose weight, get fit,and manage her diabetes. Shestarted using a pedometer onher daily walks.She says she was able toclimb out of depression withhelp from her family and herown determination to be wellwith diabetes.as a Nursingassistant, Dehelps clientssee that goodeating habitsand physicalexercise helpbody and spirit.“the motivationto be healthyhas to comefrom inside,”says De. Help from the lordand wifeSamuel is like De andCindy. He says it was the Lordand his wife who enabled himto quit using pain medications,which helped him start feelingmore clear minded. “When Iquit taking the pills, I startedwalking. At first, I couldonly walk to the end of mydriveway. Then I could walk aneighth of a mile, then a mile.Six months later, I could walktwo miles a day.”His wife, Sue, helped him.“She walked with me. Shestill walks with me. We walkin the morning, about two anda half miles, before we go towork. Her company helps metremendously.”Samuel’s wife,Sue, helpshim keep theweight off byjoining him onwalks. Much more thanweight lossThe weight-loss stories ofDe, Cindy, and Samuel makeyou want to cheer. De lost 30pounds. Cindy lost 25 pounds.Samuel lost 25 pounds. Butafter you know their realstories, you are even morein awe. You realize that theirweight loss is not their bigsuccess. Their big success isthat they overcame depression.They overcame it with a beliefin big powers—knowledge, thelove of family, and the Creator. To order free magazines, go to www.diabetes.ihs.gov, click Online Catalog. Number 13 HealtH for Native life 27

Donald rodgersChief of the Catawba tribelost: 30 poundsGained: More energyYears with diabetes: 14old habits: Ate whatever he wanted, no exercisereason for not changing habits: “I enjoyed food.”Moment of change: Five years ago, the doctor told him heneeded to go on insulin. He went to talk to his mother, who hasmany diabetes complications. She said to Donald, “Quit eating theway you are eating. Start walking. You need to exercise and losesome weight.”What helped him change: Prayer and support from his motherand his wife, CindyWhat he does to keep the weight off: Walks regularlyand eats more fresh fruit and veggies, less sugar and fewercarbohydratesWhat he orders at restaurants: Salads, grilled food, and waterto drinkWeight before and after lifestyle change: 260 to 230 poundsWeight loss: 30 poundsHemoglobin a1c: 6.5%added benefit of losing weight: “I have lots of energy!” florence Wadeelder of the Catawba tribelost: 17 poundsGained: Ability to play with great grandchildrenYears with diabetes: 10Moment of change: Immediately after being diagnosed.“The doctor told me I had to lose weight. I went home and seta goal to lose 15 pounds.”What helped her change: Has a “just-do-it” attitude to dowhatever it takes to be healthy and live longWhat she does to stay fit: Walks one mile every day, doesyard work, dances traditional Catawba dance, makes pottery,doesn’t eat sweets, limits desserts to one on Sunday, eats lotsof fresh fruits and vegetablesWhat she does to relax: Makes traditional Catawba basketsWeight before and after lifestyle change: 124 to 107 poundsWeight loss: 17 poundsadded benefit of losing weight: “I have energy to babysitthree great grandchildren!”28 HealtH for Native life Number 13Produced by IHSDivision of DiabetesTreatment andPrevention, 2/2012

weight of by . joining him on . walks. Much more than weight loss . The weight-loss stories of De, Cindy, and Samuel make you want to cheer. De lost 30 pounds. Cindy lost 25 pounds. Samuel lost 25 pounds. But after you know their real stories, you are even more in awe. You realize that their weight loss is not their big success. Their big .

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