Thursday, March 21, 2013

Can we say we love ourselves if we don't take care of ourselves?

Yesterday, two different articles about the same woman and same book came up on a weight loss forum. I like this article better, but this one is good too. It's a short read, both of them, give them a look. She has also written a book. You can find more about it here.

Editing to add: It seems she was on Good Morning America this morning too. Here's a clip of that interview.

It goes into how a lot of people lose weight because they think it's their weight that is making them unhappy. They hope that if they lose the weight that they will somehow be happy; that they will resolve their social problems, work problems, etc by being thin.

Then, they lose the weight and while things might temporarily feel great - more attention, feeling light on your feet, not feeling invisible to the world, etc, the old unhappy feelings settle back in once the initial euphoric feeling of weight loss has passed. They discover that it wasn't the weight that made them unhappy, but something else. Perhaps that something else is what led them to getting fat in the first place?

So, there has been some discussion about it and some of the comments I heard were, "They assume that fat people must hate themselves for being fat. It's not true. I don't hate myself or my body. I just want to take the weight off for my health."

And I understand this statement to a point. I can't say I hated myself when I was heavy. I was overweight when I got married, overweight when I finished my degrees, overweight when I was job hunting and working full time, overweight when I had kids. I was friendly and social and me. If I hated myself - truly hated myself, could I have accomplished those things? I don't think so. But... there was unhappiness and problems.

Did my weight bother me? Yes, it did. I looked around me and in most of my circles I was the largest woman. Most educated women are not heavy and since my husband is even more educated than me, so that our social circle included mostly PhDs and the equivalent, nearly no one was obese. I felt that by my obesity, in a way, I was wearing a badge that said, "I am not a phd grad and I grew up in poverty." Because those are my roots - welfare and food stamps as a kid.

Not that I was ashamed of how I grew up, but it was like this in my head, "Darn it. I was able to beat everything else with my humble beginnings. I was able to get my degree, get good jobs, get married to a great guy, live a nice life, why then did I allow myself to become fat?" By being fat it was like I let my childhood socio-economic status win.

And I totally understand why many poorer people are heavier. First, they don't have time to exercise as they are juggling school and jobs and kids much more than someone who has more income. They have more stress, "Will I be able to pay the electrical bill this month?", so they stress eat, and probably get less sleep due to stress which leads to poor eating. And then, of course, processed food is cheap and health food is not. You can feed a family on Macaroni and cheese and hotdogs for a lot less money than  fresh or frozen vegetables and organic chicken. And then there is the lack of education about foods. Add it all up and it leads to obesity.

But I wasn't poor any more, so what was my excuse for being over weight? I had the time. I had the means to good food. I had the knowledge. Why did I not love myself enough to take care of my body?

And that gets to the crux of it. Can you say you really love yourself and your body if you don't take care of it? We don't get a second body. The one we are born with is it. If we saw someone cutting themselves or doing drugs or abusing alcohol, we would say, "Something is wrong." But is it the same with someone who is morbidly obese? Isn't that also abusing the body?

If we loved ourselves would we risk our health? our fertility? our sex life? our job security? EVERYTHING? by being obese?

I simply cannot buy that we loved ourselves if we allowed ourselves to become obese. It just doesn't make sense to me. Maybe someone can explain it if it's true for them, but it's not for me. I don't think it's the weight that makes us unhappy. We were unhappy and we allowed ourselves to become obese. Losing the weight won't fix the unhappiness.

For me, I have to admit that I didn't care enough about myself to take care of myself. It was only when I realized that I was jeopardizing my life for real, with tangible health problems, that I woke up and realized, "Wait a minute! I don't want to die!" And even then, it wasn't so much for me. I didn't want to die because I had a 5 year old, high functioning autistic son, who needed me. I didn't want to make his life any harder by having to grow up without a mom. I felt a bit of that for my 14 year old too, but more so for the wee guy as he was that much younger and still extremely attached to me.

But, I had already done a lot of self-healing before I got scared into action. I had come to terms with a lot of things in my life - forgiven myself and others so that I could move on. It was like the last battle/barrier was that I simply had to undo the damage that I had done to my body with the weight gain.

Then, fixing my bum thyroid made the effort a lot easier and it makes me hope that I will keep the weight off because by the time I started taking off the weight, I was already in a good place mentally. I didn't feel that losing the weight would make me happier. It would just make me healthier.  In the end though, I found that exercise makes me happier and weight loss is a consequence of exercise (and eating right).

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