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Love Can't Make You Go On A Diet

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Five years ago, my dad had a heart attack. They caught it in time and put in a stint and he recovered well. He was told to eat better, lose weight, stop smoking cigars and reduce the wine drinking (he's a bit of a hedonist, lol).

After his heart attack we pleaded with him to listen to the doctor and eat better and drink less. He did for a while. But then he didn't. And he gained more weight. This is a man who worked 80 hours a week for 45 years and is now finally retired and wants to spend his time eating, drinking, relaxing and driving his Airstream trailer all over North America. He barbecues almost every meal. Eats red meat several times a week. His wife (my stepmom) was the former cigarette smoker that had quit smoking cigarettes but had slowly replaced them with cigars. When he had his heart attack, she vowed that was it! No more smoking! And they did quit smoking. Not soon enough for her though because she got lung cancer. She has been cancer free for 2 years (thankfully). When she was recovering from cancer they told her to cut down on her drinking.

While they have stopped smoking cigars, the two of them are back to drinking about as much as they always did. And I don't think they even realize it themselves. They will polish off a bottle of wine with every dinner and tell us they just had a couple of glasses. Only they didn't mention the other two glasses they had started at about 1pm in the afternoon. So by the end of the night, they've had about a bottle each. Don't get me wrong, they're not 'drunk', but they have to be consuming 500 calories a day in wine at least. I'm pretty sure those studies that say 'red wine every day is good for your heart' don't mean a BOTTLE a day.

Yesterday and today we had a new scare. Dad and Stepmom were going to be leaving next Wednesday to go back to Phoenix to pick up their Airstream and continue their cross North America tour. Dad finally admitted to stepmom that he'd had some tightening in his chest since DECEMBER. She freaked and sent him to the doctor right away. Well his doctor is concerned enough that he sends him to the cardiologist who tells him they have to do an angiogram immediately. So they did that today and of course they found blockages in his arteries and put in two more stints in his heart. That's three total now. They say next time it may have to be open-heart bypass surgery.

Now, my dad is a smart man. He is an architect, he's educated, knowledgeable, informed and he has family that loves him and don't want to lose him. He knows what to eat, how much to eat. And yet - AND YET - he still cannot bring himself to eat properly and take care of himself.

I had an interesting conversation with my brother today about it. You may remember him, he's the lifelong fit guy that just stops eating cheese for a week and drops 5 pounds (sigh). Well he was ranting and raving about why Dad can't take care of himself and just go on a diet. And I quote, "IT'S NOT THAT HARD." (ain't that the understatement of the century?)

And once again it became very obvious to me that in spite of my brother loving him and loving me, he just will never understand the headspace of someone facing a challenge like that. I tried to explain to him that there's more to losing weight than just counting calories. The biggest obstacle to him... is him. But brother just doesn't get it. It doesn't compute for him. And I doubt I'll ever make him see. But I understand Dad and where he's at. No matter how much we plead and beg and swear our undying love to him, the only person that can really make my dad go on a diet and be serious about it is him. He has to want it. He has to want it SO bad that he is finally ready to make the changes. I know this because it's the same for me. Since I was 8 I've been on various diets. But the only time it really really works is when I want it to work. I have always believed that any eating plan - be it Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins, South Beach - whatever - will work to lose weight if you want it to work. It's not the calories in calories out problem - it's the mental aerobics you have to do upstairs.

And we all have to get to that point before we can really make the turn around. We have to reach that rock bottom point where we say NO MORE. This path is no longer an option and I must make a u-turn and not look back. I'm hoping that this latest scare will get him to that point because I can't put him there.
As an update for the curious about previous blog entries:

"Why are there skirts on plus size swimsuits?" - I got my swimsuit in the mail and went swimming tonight for the first time. I LOVE IT. The girls stayed where they were supposed to be. And I was skirt free. :)

"Always a Bridesmaid...Never the One with Some Say" - this was an interesting one. I had some really thought provoking answers to this. Some were posted on the blog and some were emailed to me directly. I also talked to Mom and friends about it. Because that's what I do in situations like this - get everyone's opinion. It seems the consensus is that I have two choices - tell him I'm not doing it or just wear the damn dress. And several people believe that the dress will actually be flattering (though I may have to make some 'bra' arrangements). Anyway, the final verdict is... I'm just going to suck it up and do it. It gives me all the more motivation to stay on course and continue eating right and exercising. And it's only one night. I could always bring a 'for later' outfit if I really felt the need.

Ok - end of novel. It's a gorgeous sunny, warm weekend here on the west coast. I hope it is where you are too. Have a fabulous weekend! :)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thought- provoking, especially the title. I think empathy is so important and the best way we can encourage each other is to have true empathy, some stuff is hard and some stuff is harder for others. That's it.
    Also, you are very mature in realizing it isn't anything about you - they love you lots and their not changing has nothing to do with you. I struggle with wanting to change those I love, but I started to realize it isn't about me - when they are ready, the change will come!
    (YAY ON THE DRESS, there is no reason for you to not be in the wedding - the dress will be great and you will look beautiful!)
    1810 days ago
    Your family situation sounds similar to mine. My dad is unhealthy, has had stints put in his heart...continues to smoke and eat like it's his last day. My stepmom the same got cancer about 2 years ago and we found out in the last few months that she's cancer free, but continues her lifestyle. I've tried to have a heart to heart with my dad, but I realize that it has to be his choice. Just like it had to be my choice for ME to lose weight. It's hard when you care about them and want better. I'm sure your brother doesn't understand and probably never will. :( Try to hang in there and be a positive example in his life.

    I'm glad you're going to stand up at your bro's wedding :)
    1810 days ago
    No matter how much you may want a person to change their behavior you have 0 power to do that. They have to want to change. I hope your dad comes around before it is too late. Your brother probably doesn't get it. Not a lot of people can have empathy for people when they haven't shared a similar path. Praying for your family.

    1810 days ago
    Um...yeah, what LOLATURTLE said. Because I say "Simple, Not Easy" all the time and I think she's spying on me or something.
    1811 days ago
    I have a family full, similar to your dad. Not as much smoking, only some of them have drinking, but lots of them have eating issues. I am right there with you - I wish I could help, but having been there I know there's not much I can do besides be encouraging.

    My dad showed some interest in Spark People when I joined. He downloaded the app to his phone, but as far as I know he's never used it. Poo. Every time I go home to visit he is gushing about how well I'm doing and says "I need to get with the program." AHH. It makes me want to go move back in with them for 6 months and jumpstart their Spark, but I know it doesn't work like that. Sigh.

    ARRGH to your brother's comment, too. The best thing I ever read in response to that kind of statement was this: "...tends to be followed by something that equates the simplicity of a task with the easy achievement of it. I mean, running a marathon is just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other until you reach the finish line; the fact that it’s simple doesn’t make it easy. Same with quitting smoking. It’s as simple as never putting another cigarette in your mouth. Simple, not easy."

    I love this, because it is a million percent true. JUST BECAUSE something is SIMPLE (eat less!) does NOT mean it is EASY. I believe this so wholeheartedly I named my SparkPeople page after that blog post.

    I think you would enjoy Losing the Cow, by the way. Start at the beginning. The first ~10 or 11, chronologically speaking, are basically my Holy Bible Of Fat Girl Brain Stuff. I reread them constantly. I could almost recite them in my sleep. (there's one in the middle of that first 12 that's more weight watchers related than general; still good just not as applicable if you aren't on WW. the rest are solid gold.)

    Thanks for the updates! Cool idea!
    I like your idea of bringing another outfit, too, just in case you do get uncomfortable. But remember! It's not "oh, I look terrible in this dress, my body is all wrong" it's "This dress is not right for my body." It's only fabric. It can be changed and molded to suit you better. DO IT. emoticon
    1811 days ago
    It is hard. Saying a little prayer for all of us.
    1811 days ago
    I really feel for you and your family and I get where you are coming from. No one can make a change in your life except yourself. I hope your dad and your stepmom get this soon and make the changes for you to have your father with you a while longer.
    Great going on the swimsuit! And the dress and the wedding... I'm glad you are attending as a bridesmaid. Take that change of clothes with, that is a great idea.
    1811 days ago
  • AMY4593
    So difficult when the people we love the most won't listen to us!! My mom has diabetes and won't make changes :/ it makes me wonder if anyone intervened with me and my weight problems, how would I react?
    1812 days ago
    So true, what you said about having to WANT to change yourself. But your brother is irritating, its so HARD to lose weight!
    1812 days ago
  • ARW715
    I am catching up on all your blogs today!

    I totally agree with you, perfect explanation. It is hard to be the one watching your loved one eat/drink/smoke their way to health problems. I am in the same boat with my mom. All we can do is love then and hope they make the right decisions.

    Hope you have a great day!
    1813 days ago
  • -SEVEN-
    If it wasn't difficult, why are millions of us struggling? I have a very overweight father who keeps on going with overeating, despite having diabetes, and discolored legs.... it's very fearful to me. I guess besides the fact that we have imbalances that cause us to be addicted to certain foods/ drinks and larger quantities, we can't comprehend how it affects others. I know I never think of the impact of having a piece of cake will have in the long run on my husband or son! Hopefully, even if they (our fathers) can't ever fix their own issues, maybe it can be a lesson to us to keep striving for healthier lifestyle.

    All the best-

    1813 days ago
  • _BABE_
    Well put..."mental aerobics upstairs"...I am huffing and puffing just thinking about it.
    1813 days ago
    It's hard to see family members that need to make changes but don't. I know where you're coming from and sympathize. emoticon
    1813 days ago
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