How To Deal With Being Overweight
Thin may be in but fat is where it’s at – I read this on a chubby young woman’s t-shirt years ago and have always remembered it. I saw it, and still do, as a rejection of the moaning that goes on over how we look in this society. It made me smile – widely.
We do live in a culture that is obsessed with physical appearances. Websites like AmIhotornot.com invite us to put our physical selves out there to be rated, on a scale from 1 to 10 – by strangers. Fashion magazines tell us, well, that we are never ready to leave our front doors in the morning because, let’s face it; most of are not going to look anything like they’d have us look. The whole thing is ironic.
We celebrate the thin and beautiful, while gaining weight as a people. It is as if we worship an ideal physicality that we see as being part of a separate world. We want our actors and actresses to be super thin, almost skeletal. But we neglect our own bodies and health. There is a radical disconnect between how we actually look and what we revere as an ideal way to look.
And, maybe this is a good start. Stay with me. It doesn’t matter if Adele is a little overweight. Or if Lady Gaga has gained a few pounds. But it really does matter if you are overweight or obese – because being so means you are more likely to face serious health problems in your future. Your future – not the future of someone you see on a glossy magazine page or traipsing about a TV screen. None of the cultural noise around being overweight matters in the end. What matters is your health. Period.
Hey, of course, you will smile more broadly when you pull on those skinny jeans that would get stuck at your ankles a year ago, or maybe even do a little dance of joy when that cool dress not only looks good on the rack but on you. But seriously, it is not about the outer. It is about the inner.
Being obese or overweight means that we have a greater chance of sitting in a doctor’s office being told that we have cancer. Or a possible heart problem. Or that we are nearing Type-2 diabetes. What could be more important? Imagining a younger-looking, thinner version of you in the mirror can be motivating. Imagining that you avoid that lonely conversation with a doctor about a serious illness, and all that means for you and those who love you – surely that is the most meaningful motivator. As always, let’s begin at the beginning.
Are you overweight or obese?
You probably know the answer to this question, even if you do not own a scale or measuring tape. Most of us can feel it when our body is larger than it should be. It is useful to put a measurable number to that vague knowledge, as you will want to set goals. Your body mass index (BMI) will give you a concrete place to move to. It is easy to do. You take your weight in kilograms and divide it by the square of your height in meters. Let’s run through an example: Walter is 5 feet 0 inches and weighs 171 pounds. 171 pounds is about 77.56 kilograms; 5 feet 0 inches is about 1.52 meters: 77.56/2.31(1.52 X 1.52) is 33.57. Now, just what does this number mean?
“Well, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight and over 30 is considered obese.”
It is important that Walter not wring his hands and mourn the fact that his BMI shows him to be obese. Sensible eating and exercising can turn things around for Walter. But how does someone like Walter go forward?
Never think of food as an enemy
Let’s hope that Walter does not, how shall we say – overreact – and find thoughts like these pounding in his head: Thanks a lot, delicious food that I love! I am now obese and will eat nothing but celery and drink nothing but water until my BMI is below 30. I will show you! This is an emotional reaction but it bears no semblance to a plan. Walter needs to set a target weight and then a daily calorie target. He may need to learn how to cook in healthful ways, to shun his go-to fast food joint, to eat smaller portions, to cut down on beer, or switch to a light brand. There are a hundred small changes that Walter can make to get him where he wants to go. And he may stumble – many times. But, if he picks himself up and gets right back on that proverbial horse, he will get there.
Doctors are your friends
Your family doctor can advise you on how to go about losing weight. He or she will likely tell you to set small, doable goals and give you some advice on how to further educate yourself on healthy eating habits. Exercise is a part of any weight-loss plan and she will advise you on what sort of exercise someone in your physical condition might safely begin with.
For anyone who has Internet access and, ideally, a mobile device of some kind, there are some super useful applications that you can use to keep track of what you are eating. My Fitness Pal, for example, will add up your daily, weekly, monthly calories, keeping track of your progress. It will also track the amount of exercise you take, the amount of water you drink, and how much protein you are getting, as a total percentage of your diet. Basically, it sorts out all of the information you enter into usable statistics. Knowing how you are doing each day is helpful; you can make adjustments, giving yourself a better chance of having a healthful week.
In the end, if you are overweight or obese, you will thank yourself if you lose some weight, because it will mean that you can live well and maybe even longer. Hey, don’t you want to stick around for as long as you can?