I’ve struggled with this since I was very young. More than 2/3 of Americans face the same issue. It’s something that many scientists and doctors have stated is a problem, and yet the trends don’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
Too many people in this country (and globally) are overweight or obese. The rate has risen especially in the last 50 years, due to better economic factors, as well as the rise of more office work and less physical labor jobs.
There’s a rising trend in social media of terms like “fat acceptance”, “health at every size”, and “fat shaming.” Not to mention hashtags centered on outer appearance such as #effyourbeautystandards, #honormycurves, #bigisbeautiful, and so on.
I can cite plenty of studies and statistics that show how having excess weight takes a toll on the body’s joints, bones, and organs. The “health at every size” mantra can be easily debunked. There’s also issues with surgeries and procedures being harder to perform on overweight/obese individuals. And while there are some conditions that make losing weight more difficult (such as PCOS, for example), those conditions on their own won’t cause you to gain 50+lbs.
Terms like “fat acceptance” may have started from a good place: don’t make fun of overweight people. But lately, many use it to mean “I’m overweight so don’t treat me differently even if it matters medically or for another good reason.” I’ve seen many instances where, for example, someone who is overweight will be mad at their doctor for suggesting they lose weight due to a knee problem. Might that problem be caused by a condition unrelated to the patient’s weight? Absolutely, but a doctor is going to rule out the most likely causes first, and if that doesn’t work, other options can be explored. Just like a truck’s suspension can be messed up by adding too much weight, a person’s skeleton and joints can only take so much before there’s signs of distress.
By no means am I coming from some high ground on this struggle. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been overweight/obese for as long as I can remember. Full disclosure: I’m 5’4”, 215 lbs, though at my highest weight I was 256lbs. I especially expanded during my teenage years, when I was using food as a comfort tool during episodes of depression, which ended up being a constant state of mind up until recently. And I’m still obese…being pregnant, there’s not much I can do to change that for awhile. But I lost 40lbs in about 6 months before I found out I was pregnant, and I felt LOADS better, physically. I could go on long walks and even jog a bit without getting out of breath. I know that having that weight off also took weight off my skeleton, and the work my heart had to do. On a more superficial level, my clothes fit much better, and it was a wonderful feeling to buy clothes the next size and even two sizes down.
Then I found out I was pregnant, and among my huge swirl of emotions, I felt angry. Angry at myself that I couldn’t get to my goal weight before getting pregnant (that was my ultimate, all-wise plan), and angry at God because He was getting in the way of my plans. How ridiculous!
So far in my pregnancy, Squishy has been healthy, and while some of the ultrasounds have been harder to have done (my latest ultrasound listed “Difficult scan: Maternal body habitus”, AKA “mom’s body fat made things difficult”), it looks like I don’t have issues so far with my weight and the pregnancy. I’m still 6 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight, due to nausea in the first trimester, but now I could very easily eat everything in the house. I’m going to do my best to not go over the recommended 11-20lbs for obese women.
This whole issue is complex in so many ways. By no means am I suggesting that it’s cool to make fun of overweight people, that they somehow “deserve” it. Nor am I saying that if you’re within a normal BMI, all is right with the world. But I think trying to stay fit can prevent a lot of problems down the road, and it also serves as a testimony for self-control.
Phillipians 3:19 says, “Their end is destruction; their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” I can attest to the addictive quality of food. There’s so many yummy things in the world, and I want to taste it all (especially now that it’s Christmas time, oy vey)! And that’s not a bad thing in itself. But I often did and do eat things on a whim: I would pick up a candy bar or a soda on an impulse. I would get a large container of a food (chips, for example), vowing to “eat them slowly”, only to chow them all down in the span of a few hours–and usually in my bedroom, in secret. That’s not healthy, godly behavior.
And 1 Corinthians says that our body is a temple unto the Lord, which has been interpreted in a lot of ways from sexual purity to not getting tattoos/piercings. But I think it can be applied to this case too–that our temples would be a lot more fitting if we keep them as healthy as we can. Not an easy battle, but how often does God call us to things that are easy? As mentioned before, diseases, metabolism, and age can all be factors in upping the difficulty of losing weight.
Obviously drinking a kale smoothie isn’t going to make you more holy than if you drink a soda. And a body that has disease is not at fault in that regard for being a “bad” temple. But it is some food for thought (no pun intended), in my mind, of how we should regard health and wellness in the light of beliefs. It’s very easy to go to extremes in many directions, or to be legalistic in what we should or should not eat, or how much, or how often, but again, it’s good to think about how we’re treating our earthly vessels.
I really look forward to being able to focus on weight loss and strength again. Right now, I’m focused on building a strong baby (mostly out of Taco Bell bean burritos, at the moment, which may make this post seem hypocritical. At the same time, though, I have one bean burrito at most a day, and I fit it into my daily calories appropriate for a second trimester mom of my weight and height). I know that losing weight will make it easier to play with my kid(s), and of course improve my overall health, and make certain health problems less likely.
- Dear Squishy,
- Adulting is hard