It was with great sympathy that I read the diary of Greenmother entitled "I am fat". I would like to offer a different perspective.
I suffered from obesity for around 20 years. It started in grad school. It ballooned when I was in a very stressful secondary Masters program. It got totally uncontrollable when I had my own stressful business, a partner whose father was essentially let to die over an inheritance, parents 25000 miles away literally dying because they would not go to assisted living, then a diagnosis of diabetes. I was 70 pounds overweight and something had to give. Join me below the corsett-like squigly for more...
I don't pretend to have the story for every overweight person. I'm sure for every story there is a counter-story to be told about a person who doesn't have problems, is very happy in life, not having health issues. But I think my story will have a lot of commonality with a lot of overweight folks out there.
I HATED being overweight. It was a daily process of self-loathing. It made me less enthusiastic about life. It sapped my energy. I was tired all the time. I had to get a CPAP device, which, contrary to what the DVD said, was horrible and uncomfortable years after use. I rarely bought new clothes, the ones I had were stained and almost always some shade of black, It's slenderizing you know. I suffered from chafing during any hot weather, had foot odor, various other body odors.
The real turning point was when I was diagnosed with diabetes. I had not had a physical for 13 years, somehow always afraid of what I'd see. I was told I had type II diabetes but if I lost some weight, I could maybe get rid of it. I was also always lecturing my parents about taking care of their diabetes, so I was a hypocrite if I did nothing.
And then there were the people around me. Take my partner's nephew. He became morbidly obese like his father. Yes, we was Republican and very selfish but many of his problems stemmed from being so overweight. At age 24 now, as far as I know, he's never been on a date. His mother said once that at college he enjoyed cooking pastas because the girls would come around. I thought, yeah, cooking a carby food will really bring them in. He is a talented engineer but can't get employed at a decent job. It's sad, it's unfair, but the truth is being very overweight IS often the deciding factor on who gets a job and who does not.
Or there is my childhood friend who is quite overweight. The sad part is her daughter is now overweight too. Every week she posts some delicious dishes with some heavily sugar marinated beef or yesterday she wondered if she should use chocolate chips for her mocha coffee. The daughter is very, very smart but you wonder if she will lack opportunities in life from being overweight. Or the other friend who laments how she is the fat chick, lacks self esteem etc.
Again, I'm sure I can get hundreds of stories on why this does not apply to individual people, but for many people who are overweight, it does apply.
So for me, the real trigger was something the doctor said, "You can't help other people until you help yourself". I was on Januvia but my insurance company put me through this process where I'd have to lay out $600 and then be reimbursed for it.
So I started looking at everything I did.
1) I looked at every ingredient I put in my mouth, primarily carbs. It meant looking at basic things, like dressings, beans, whether I put olive oil in the pan instead of Pam, what my game plan was when going to restaurant X, what to tell people when I was invited, how I ate when I was stressed. It meant substituting. I love chocolate so instead I would get cocoa power, fat free, with some Truvia and Greek yougurt. It meant eating breakfast every single day.
2) It meant taking my time at the gym seriously. Not the half-assed efforts I'd put in at my class again and again. I had to go to the gym more days. Got a trainer to help a little.
3) Many, many tweeks - What is my water consumption? Am I eating enough fiber, vegetables? Enough fish? What if I take fish oil tabs?
4) It meant facing my wardrobe, getting rid of the stuff I didn't like.
5) It meant dealing with a new dynamic in my life of people who were used to me being fat and the baggage that came with it.
And 1001 other thngs. I lost 70 pounds in around 9 months. My A1C went down from 8.0 to 5.3. I began enjoying a new wardrobe. I am sometimes on television because of my career, I felt vastly better about it. I was no longer a hypocrit to my parents. I handled stress better. I could look in the mirror.
To people like Greenmother, for whom I have great sympathy and respect, I say it's not what we let you do, it's what you let yourself do. It's looking at your life, your ability to endure, your ability to master something that has mastered you. It is a step by step process. The friend who calls herself "fat chick" had a full Facebook series on Christmas cookies. Thousands and thousands of calories. I sent her this piece how you can make snowmen with cut-outs of exotic fruits instead, with noses made of raisins.
It is all about small steps like that. Every ingredient has to be considered. And I can now say, once in a while, when I do have that piece of cake, I enjoy it more and yet I don't have huge cravings like I did before. For me, the biggest rule of all is, "It's not what you eat, it's what you don't eat". Many people who are overweight are not eating enough good things, water, fiber, vegetables, salad.
It's about the fact that we are a culture center entertainment around food. The movement part is incidental. What if everyone went out and walked a mile pre-Super Bowl instead of having the biggest nacho plate possible? What if the plan for Saturday was for the family to go swimming or walking or whatever?
I've seen the effects of obesity on people. I saw it in my own parents who suffer immeasurable health problems from being so sedentary for a decade. I see friends who themselves and children are deprived and descriminated against. I know many people who suffer from the self-loathing and isolation I did.
One more time - I know my story doesn't apply to everyone. But it does apply, in one way or another, to many who are overweight. It's not about anyone else. It's not what people let you do. It's what you want for yourself. I know I deserved a better future and there are many who are denied a better future for obesity. Just a little "food for thought"