I’m convinced the nine days in the hospital, pumped full of antibiotics and watching commercial TV from dawn til dusk, changed something about how I’m wired for food.
Sitting in the hospital bed with 50 channels of basic Comcast cable to keep me company, I was shocked at how many of the TV ads that run during the day are pitching food to people. And it’s shit too, fast food, heavily processed snacks with no nutritional value, and other high-margin stuff that really, in a perfect world, no one would eat.
I went into the hospital weighing about 336 pounds. Yesterday I stepped on a doctor’s scale for the first time since June, and I weight 311. I’ve lost 25 pounds since my hospitalization. 25 pounds in a month is quite a bit; I’m sure next month won’t be anywhere close to this. But it’s a positive trend.
This isn’t because I’ve adopted a radical new exercise regimen – in fact, because of the condition of my foot and the presence of a PICC line in my left arm, I’m not allowed to exercise at all. It’s simply because I’ve totally lost interest in eating all the crap I used to.
What’s more, seeing imagery of people eating that stuff on TV makes me feel a little ill.
I’d love to righteously trumpet that I’ve consciously made this decision, but I have a different theory.
When I was 20 I was living in Southern California, crashing at my mother’s apartment and working a tech support job in Irvine. That year an exotic form of a stomach bug cropped up and I got it, and got it harder than I can ever remember getting an illness before then except maybe for chicken pox.
For a good two or three days, I was able to move about as far as the bathroom, to either puke or shit bilge water, then to the kitchen for a glass of water, then back to the sofa and in front of the TV.
This also happened to be when McDonald’s was pushing the McRib big-time. Almost every commercial break featured an ad for the McRib – this processed pork patty on a roll with pickles and onions.
Under other circumstances I might have found it appetizing. But seeing as I did through the filter of being violently ill, it made me want to puke.
The first time I drove by a McDonald’s after I recovered, I pulled in and bought a McRib. I opened up the container, caught one whiff of it, spied it in the box, and ran to the bathroom and dry-heaved for a few minutes. To this day, I haven’t been able to eat a McRib.
I’ve been able to eat plenty of other McShit over the years, and can enjoy a pulled pork sandwich with the best of them, but the McRib is my Waterloo.
I’m convinced that for me, anyway, being ill triggers an aversion response to certain things that become a constant stimulus. In this particular case, I’ve completely lost interest in the typical junk that American families cram their faces with – fast food, high-sugar high-cholesterol snacks, and so on. Because that’s all I saw advertised on TV from dawn to dusk.
Remaining on a steady diet of intravenous and oral antibiotics since then has, I’m sure, helped me along with appetite suppression. But I don’t think that’s the only difference.
Obviously this behavior change for the better. As a diabetic with a BMI squarely in the “morbidly obese” range, eating that shit is about the same to me as playing Russian Roulette. I want to lose weight and have wanted to for a very long time.
It just took a long stay in the hospital, being sick in front of the TV, to trick myself into agreeing.