Thursday, April 16, 2015

I wish people would listen...

I must admit, I've always been hardheaded, stubborn, obstinate, whatever you want to call it. And yes, I've often made things difficult for myself. I can think of countless situations where there was the easier, softer, way and the Megan way.

I also learned that when someone was as passionate about something as I was, that other person could dig his heels in just as firmly as I could, and in the end, there'd be lots of energy spent, but neither person convinced one iota more than they were before the discussion that their viewpoint needed adjusting.

My best examples came not from people exhorting, but from those who'd simply state their position and have their actions illustrate their words. Something along the lines of getting more flies with honey rather than vinegar combined with someone walking the walk.

I remember reading an article years ago, sometime in the late 1970s, about a woman who had cancer. What I remembered most from that article was that she wanted to go for the cure and not just treat symptoms. At the time the article was published, she had finished chemotherapy and was declared in remission. I hope that held true.

What I saw was that going for the cure versus treating symptoms could be demonstrated in any number of situations. I saw it when I was in banking, for instance, and consolidation loans were being touted as the answer to everything (unless you're a sci-fi fan, because, of course, the answer to everything is 42. But I digress.)

As bank employees, we were coached to talk up these loans and how wonderful they could be. Now, this is akin to two different patients seeing the doctor, and both complaining of a headache. If he encourages each to take two aspirin, it's highly likely that their headache symptoms will abate, but there may be two completely different reasons why the headaches occurred. In one case, it might have been the person skipped a meal; in the other, it might have been from stress. So, while the aspirin will take away or reduce the pain, that addresses only the symptom. The cure in the first case would be to eat some food, and in the second to find a way to deal with the stress a bit better.

I thought of that article when I was in banking in the 1990s, hearing this "push the consolidation loans" message. Wouldn't you want to know why people needed the consolidation loan? If they simply were not living within their means, then the consolidation loan would not be the cure; it would only address a symptom. If they had some huge event occur, like a long-term illness where the major wage earner was unable to work and the money coming in was insufficient to cover necessary expenses, but said person had since recovered and was back to earning, then the consolidation loan could help them to repay the debt more easily.

What I came to see was that the bank didn't care why people were in that situation, they simply saw a way to make money and offered the product.

I saw easily a hundred of these loans closed at my branch office, and in nearly every instance, a few years out, the people were back for another consolidation loan because they had run back up credit cards. It seems that even though in some cases they were required to close some credit lines in order to be approved and did so, they found that after a while, they wanted some gee-gaw or other, didn't have the money, and if they didn't have sufficient credit on the card they had, they opened another one. So, when they returned for the second consolidation loan, the amount of their outstanding debt was more than it had been at the closing of the first loan. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Most of these people were well-intentioned, any number of them held down responsible, high-paying jobs, but they didn't seem to understand they had created their own misery by not living within their means. The thinking had to change in order to ensure success. Most often, it did not.

I took that as a warning, and rarely acquire debt. When I do, it's for big-ticket items, and even then, it's not done willy-nilly, and I do what I can to pay it off completely or as quickly as I can.

Twenty years out from banking, and bariatric surgery is booming. I see this fraught with the same problems that I saw with the consolidation loan scenario. The surgery is NOT a magic bullet. It can be a tool in the toolbox, but it's not the cure. It addresses only one symptom.

I've not known that many people who've had the surgery, so from a scientific viewpoint, my n is not  large enough from a statistical standpoint, but what I've seen is depressing. Nearly every person I've known who's had this surgery said they yes, they were ready to make a change, and do whatever it took. Yes, they jumped through the medical hoops, yes they were excited to make this change, yes it was going to be a lifestyle thing. blah, blah, blah.

In every long-term case, i.e., over 12 months out, save one, they've either gained back at least half the weight they lost, or they've stayed stuck at a weight that still has them in an obese category. Except for the one case, they all reverted to a number of their old eating habits. Eating foods that are nutritionally empty but taste good to them. Eating foods that allow them to gain weight easily. Like the consolidation loan candidates, these people were utterly sincere when they promised they would do all the steps. Well, they did do them, they just didn't continue to do them; at some point, they all stopped.

Except the one. She found herself gaining some weight and wondered why, so wrote down everything she ate to see. She determined that she was eating a lot of nuts. Nuts are nutritionally sound food, but the amounts she ate were too much for her, so she cut back on how often she ate them, and the pounds she had gained fell away.

I did not distinguish between lap band surgeries and the more invasive stomach stapling, and again my n is small.

One of my acquaintances has decided this surgery is for him. He's as pigheaded and stubborn as I am, and my concerns have fallen on deaf ears. I would love to see him succeed and prove me wrong, but I don't think it'll happen. sigh.

17 comments:

  1. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink," that would apply here.........

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  2. Yes, I agree bariatric surgery is just another diet fad. I've known three candidates. To prove to the medical community they were committed they had to lose a good deal of weight conventionally, then come back. All three did. I said I did not understand why they simply did not continue on a good path, but apparently the quick fix was more desirable. Long story short, all three figured out how to defeat the band and eat the fake food that caused the original problem. All gained all back and more. It's incomprehensible to me.

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    1. Joanne, exactly! I asked this acquaintance that if he can eat in such a way that he's losing weight, doesn't he see that he needs to continue eating in this way, because obviously, the food choices he's making now are allowing to him to eat until he's had enough food, yet he can shed excess pounds. His reply was he's tired of doing things that don't work. He could NOT see that that wasn't it at all. Each time, he grew tired of continuing to do what DOES work.

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  3. Concerning debt; Micawber was right!

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  4. It's sad the lengths people will go to, to be able to still eat their junk food. Sugar addictions, grain addictions, processed foods addictions. When an alcoholic is addicted...they must abstain. When someone is addicted to a substance like sugar, or grains, they must abstain. There are still plenty of healthy foods to eat. they aren't addicted to FOOD, they are addicted to specific substances. But they'd rather have their intestines carved up than put the sugar or grains down. Sad.

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    1. Agreed, Gwen. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  5. well said Gwen.
    spending can be an addiction too

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    1. gz, i'm convinced we humans can turn anything into an addiction. I'd say the current wholescale one that's new on the scene is texting.

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  6. I'm always amazed at how easily people carry debt. My partner and I have only one debt: our mortgage. And we are working to pay that off in the next few years. I don't think I could sleep if I had a credit card with an outstanding balance.

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    1. Keep it that way! It's the secret to a stress-free life.

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    2. Maria, I've got a mortgage and the truck payment. I knew I needed a vehicle that was better in snow than my car, and was saving up but the need for the vehicle was glaringly apparent before I had all the vehicle money saved. It's been the first time in 20 years that I've had a car/truck payment.

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  7. No posts?
    Just let us know you are ok

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    1. I'm okay, just incredibly busy between work and home stuff. thanks for asking.

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