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A magic pill won't solve our problems

There is no magic pill.

On June 9, 2006, I finally got it through my thick skull that I was waiting for a magic weight loss pill that was never going to arrive.

I weighed a bit more than 300 pounds and didn't feel very healthy at all. When I thought about it, I felt trapped inside my body. I was annoyed at the things I could not do, such as walk around a department store without losing my breath.

I was a beanpole as a child, but puberty wasn't kind. I quickly became a fat teenager, fed by excellent food at home and ample junk food whenever I could get it. The habits continued in college, although I was much healthier because I had to walk around campus to get to daily classes.

As a married adult, I found a job at a tech company that required me to sit in front of a computer screen all day long. I never exercised. I ate at my desk. I gained more weight.

Then one June day in 2006 I was reading online about a friend's gastric bypass surgery and realized I was headed down that road. The magic pill that would solve my health problems was not going to arrive in time to save me from myself.

I decided that day to do the only thing I knew for sure would help me lose weight: count calories.

For the next three years I kept a daily log of everything that passed into my mouth. I tallied calories and it worked. I lost 83 pounds the first year and eventually got my weight down to a respectable 170.

I kept it up for three years before I returned to my bad habits and gained a good deal of weight back, but during that time I learned a very important lesson.

There is no magic pill.

If you want something to change, you have to put in the work. You have to do it yourself. You cannot wait for someone else to solve the problem for you.

I also learned that if you can motivate yourself, you can do what formerly seemed impossible. I never believed I could lose that much weight without surgery, but I did.

We can solve our problems, whether it's obesity, living within our financial means or eliminating gangs from our city. But we have to put in the work. Stop waiting for a magic pill. It's time to get to work.


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