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DEAR CHRISTINE – Not like state of my life

marciadottin, [email protected]

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Dear Christine,
 I have been delaying writing this letter for a long time, ashamed to ask for help and afraid not knowing what to do. But, you are perhaps my last hope.
 I am having problems with my weight, it has come to the point where I am finding it hard to breathe, have swollen numb feet and hands, and often pain in my chest. I am 24 years old, five feet four inches tall and weigh 206 lbs. I am at my heaviest (obese).
Christine, I need help losing weight and I don’t have the money to do it. Money is not the only factor, my self-esteem, self-confidence and determination have all dissolved. I don’t have the urge to do things, even though I know I’m supposed to.  
I was a victim of domestic violence and that alone has taking a toll on me physically and emotionally, but I can say that I am on the road to recovery. This has also caused my weight situation to get out of control. If I were to give all the details of this I would need the whole page of the newspaper.
Christine, if there is anyone out there who can help me, not only with my weight but my lifestyle, I would welcome them with open arms. I know it will be hard, but I need the help. I have tried on my own, but have failed miserably.
The media promotes healthy eating, which we all need to do, but why is it that the healthy foods are the most expensive? How can a poor person eat healthy when they can’t even afford to purchase the healthy foods? I believe that this is one of the major problems why a lot of Barbadians are obese like me.  
I don’t have high blood pressure and am not a diabetic, or suffer with any of the diseases that a person my weight would expect to have. But I know that the way my life is going, it won’t be long before one of these things happen to me.  
Christine, I have no children and I have goals in mind, but I want to live long enough to reach them, please help me.
– Hopeless
My dear,
Your situation is not hopeless, so I will not refer to you as that.
Your determination, strength of character and resolve to achieve your goals inspite of the odds will ensure you overcome this challenging situation. Like Barack Obama, you have to believe you can succeed and work towards that eventuality.
My initial concern is your weight challenge, at five feet four inches tall and 206 pounds. You’re definitely obese and are disposed to develop sooner, rather than later, a chronic non-communicable disease such as diabetes, hypertension, heart complications or cancers.
Your family physician should be able to recommend a programme best suited to your needs.
He or she would be able to give you a thorough examination to determine how much physical activity you should be able to undertake at this time without injuring yourself.
As part of that examination he or she would seek to find out why you get numbness in your feet and hands, and if this could be due to poor circulation. Your doctor should also refer you to a cardiologist to get a cardiac evaluation. That would include getting an electro cardiogram (ECG) to rule out heart disease. This is necessary given your chest pains.
Your doctor would also be able to recommend a dietitian or nutritionist you can work with to design meal plans. Those same professionals would also be able to guide you on how best you can prepare these meals, including which ingredients you should use and those you should forget.
I would also recommend you join either the Diabetes Association of Barbados or the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados. Both have ready access to nutritionist and dieticians, and in the case of the Foundation, a gym where patients are closely monitored. Being around others working to control their weight and improve their health like you, should give you the motivation to succeed.
As for your lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, that will improve as you can see how successful your efforts are in improving your health and body.
Lastly, some healthy foods are indeed expensive, but quite a few are not. I refer to yams, sweet potatoes, spinach, okras, carrots and a few others are pretty reasonable.
My dear, as a matter of urgency I urge you to seek medical attention. That will be your first step to a new you. Take care, eat sensibly this Christmas and please keep in touch.
– Christine