The Ostrich Effect

I was telling myself, “This is fine” when I was heavy.

First of all, let me start by saying that I know that ostriches don’t put their head in the sand to avoid danger. They put their head in the sand to turn their eggs which are buried after laid. People used to think (incorrectly) that ostriches were burying their heads in the sand to avoid perceived threats.

With that out of the way, it’s fair to say that the saying, “Burying your head in the sand” is quite firmly entrenched in the vernacular, and we all know what it refers to: ignoring a threat or danger before you. I used to suffer from this ostrich effect in regards to my health.

When I left the Marine Corps, I was about 20 lbs overweight. I ignored this and figured, “I’ll lose the weight some day. I just won’t worry about it now.” I continued to gain weight after leaving the Corps. I gained weight so quickly, in fact, that I sustained stretch marks on the sides of my stomach in the same way pregnant women do. I ignored these, too. “It’s just stretch marks. That isn’t really bad. I’ll lose the weight some day. I just won’t worry about it now.”

After I reached about 250 lbs, a good 80 lbs over my max weight, I visited a doctor and had a physical. He told me that my health was still good, but that it would not continue that way for long. He explained that my good health in the Marines had bought me some credit with my good health, but that one day it would run out, and I would start suffering from weight-related illnesses unless I reversed the trend I was on and lost weight. I thought to myself, “Well, I’m in good health, he says. I’ll lose the weight some day. I just won’t worry about it now.”

When I reached 300 lbs, I began having health problems. I started experiencing some numbness on my right thigh and some tingling of my toes and circulation issues in my feet. At a physical, I was told I had fatty liver disease, and worst of all, I was pre-Diabetic. My blood sugar was high, and I was prescribed Metformin. As crazy as it is to think about as I look back now, I thought to myself, “So, I’m having some issues. They’re not too bad. I’ll lose the weight some day. I just won’t worry about it now.”


My cousin Sarah. She is a physician assistant, and she told me that she was concerned with my health and about me. She asked me what was keeping me from living a healthier life, and I told her that I was beyond exercising away my weight. She told me that I didn’t have to do that, and asked me if I would consider adopting a healthier diet? In doing so, I would be able to not only get healthy, but lose weight without exercise. I was understandably skeptical, but I agreed to listen to what she had to say, and afterward, I investigated further. What I was led to was Whole30 and Paleo.

Once I was enlightened, I pulled my head out of the proverbial sand and hit the ground running. I changed my diet, my wife and I got through our first Whole30, and we adopted the Paleo Diet. Two and a half years later, we are at our lowest and healthiest weights, I am in the National Guard, and we are both having great adventures together.

Stop ignoring the signs, stop ignoring your body, stop ignoring that voice in your head, and stop ignoring the people who love you telling you that you need to do something about your weight. The time to do this isn’t tomorrow, next week, or next month. The time is now. The sooner you start, the more days you will likely be adding to your life. Every day lost is gone forever.

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