Weight, Weight – Wait

Weight – It’s not what you think.

I am a health/care weight loss professional who is herself overweight. I’ve worked with thousands of people for over 17 years to help them feel better about themselves. I have been on a diet of some kind since I was 13 and I’ve been successful during my life of attaining a healthy goal weight that was just within the BMI category. Currently, my weight for my height is labeled obese.

When I first realized that I was now considered obese, the label took my breath away. I thought, “This is crazy. How can I, who works in the weight loss industry, weigh enough to be considered obese?” “Obese? That label is for someone of another size!” And I was offended.

Because being labeled obese meant that now I was part of a group of people who are misunderstood as people who just don’t quite “get it.” I don’t get it? This is my profession. Really? Something is wrong. AND it’s not because I don’t get it.

For years, comedians, television shows, people just gathering in groups have made remarks about people’s weight as the subject of their joke. Fat Shaming is the last place where even liberal minded people feel it is appropriate to join in the fun of hurting someone else. After all, people assume, we did this to ourselves. We’re choosing this body. And EVERYONE has some anecdotal story of seeing some fat person overeating as proof that their bias is a fact. And that bias seems to them, justifiable.

People who are not considered “normal” size are often thought of as:Lazy, Unmotivated,Lacking self-care, Not possessing willpower, Unhygienic, Uneducated/ignorant

And have endured such comments such as:

“You have such a pretty face.”

“If only you would……”

“Just eat less.”

“Just exercise more.”

“Try this diet/food/fast!”

“Should you be eating that?”

“Is that allowed on your diet?”

And the really amazing part? We have tried so many remedies. Many times over. We’ve spent lifetimes worrying, obsessing and trying to change because we don’t quite fit in.

It’s not about eating less and moving more. Trust us. We know that part. And eating less and moving more hasn’t cured us. It may help. We may be in a better, healthier position, but if that was the solution, no one would have a weight issue. Because if eating less and moving more worked for people, the statistic for keeping weight off would be much higher than it is. Estimates for maintaining weight loss? 3 to 10 percent for more than 3 years.

The assumptions that people make about weight as an automatic health crisis, turns out to not be accurate. Someone’s size combined with lifestyle may make them at risk for certain health related issues, but it isn’t an absolute. We all know someone who was a normal size in their weight and still had to manage a health crisis. The problem is that people who carry weight and have a health crisis, it is assumed that their crisis is there fault. We never blame a normal size person for cancer. And yet we do assess blame on someone who is a different size. It is assumed the person has eaten their way to disease as if this was their choice and end game all along.

Meanwhile, we don’t blame nutrition education in school programs, lack of access of food choices in poorer communities, that what is in our food that is manipulated by the money our government pours into the soy and corn industries. We don’t look at one person and think at the same moment how SUGAR is in everything. How education and branding is so f-ing convoluted with what is healthy and what is a complete scam. We don’t consider that many people with weight concerns have experienced the kind of trauma you would be horrified to even consider. Hormone imbalances play another role. And not just hormones that we’re typically familiar with. The hormones that regulate hunger and satiety are often involved with a person’s weight.

And yet if only we’d eat less. If only we’d move more?

Scientists are now identifying over 300 potential reasons who some of us struggle with weight and others do not. Let that sink in.

Look, anthropologically, we as humans differentiate ourselves in relationship to “the other.” You have brown hair, I have blond. You are tall, I am short. And certainly people are attracted to certain types.

People who carry more weight than their society dictates as normal, are subjected to all sorts of assumptions from others and the assumptions are cruel. When you travel to other parts of the world, you might notice that people’s interpretation of size varies greatly. Not everyone has the privilege of worrying about weight. Not every society thinks it is valuable to be thin. Not every culture even perceives it as healthy. In certain parts of the world, curves on women are considered beautiful and sexy.

In my work with thousands of people over the year I tell them honestly. “I can guarantee that you can be healthier than you are today. But I can’t guarantee that you will be and stay smaller than you are.”

For some of my clients, that is a tough pill to swallow. “You mean I may never be at a goal weight? How will I ever love myself?” And together, we do the work.

Health is a multi-layered understanding. Mental health matters.Obsessing about weight, your size, what you put into your mouth, exercise and judging yourself and others isn’t health.

How you feel and how you view the world matters.

In my years in the industry, I’ve never met anyone who was lazy, lacking willpower, ignorant or the rest. My clients are brave because they are willing to dive in and examine themselves. They even examine their own judgements. And all of them make positive changes. Thank goodness we can wake up from our bias. All of us can.

Amy Brunell 

www.culvercitysymphony.org

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