I believe in being nice to people. You might not get that from reading my blog sometimes, but when it comes to dealing with people, I like to do so with respect, and with integrity. I don’t think it’s right to make fun or or to insult someone based on their sex, age, religion, weight, race, etc. It’s just not right. However, enabling bad habits in regards to obesity is something that is overlooked for fear of “Fat shaming.”
Let me be clear: calling someone fat isn’t fat shaming if they are obese, although overly sensitive people will see it that way (this belies a deeper problem with them refusing to face the root of their weight problems). What is fat shaming? Calling someone a fat bastard or a fat fuck is fat shaming. Saying, “You’d look so much better if you lost 45 lbs” is fat shaming. Making exasperated or disappointed faces at an obese person about to sit next to you on a flight is fat shaming. Shaking your head in disapproval at an obese person eating ice cream is fat shaming. None of that is okay. None of it.
But, I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again: we have gone too far with political correctness when we won’t offer feedback to others to address their health. It’s a sensitive subject, and yes, having been on the receiving end of it, I know first-hand it’s uncomfortable. But it needs to be done, and yes, the fact it is uncomfortable makes it more effective. Why?
IT. NEEDS. TO. BE. SAID.
Did one person make me change my mind? One person tipped me over the edge from inaction to action, but they were the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had many friends, family, and loved ones come to me over the years pleading for me to do something about my weight. My grandmother, who I miss every day since she passed, told me every single time we spoke, “You need to lose weight. I will never forgive you if you die before I do.” Those words scared me, but not enough to change my lifestyle. Yet, the seeds were planted. They just needed some watering.
Enter my cousin Sarah and my friend Matt. Matt had been doing his best to educate me about the evils of sugar and the low-fat myth. This education from Matt was reinforced when my cousin Sarah told me about Whole30 and Paleo. There was the water needed for that seed to grow, tipping me from being skeptical and without direction into being a person who has now lost over 150 lbs successfully and has kept it off for over two years.
I would not be where I am today without those people taking the initiative to have the uncomfortable conversations with me. I’m now healthier than ever, no longer suffering from Type-2 Diabetes, a resting heart rate of between 43-47, running 5+ km every other day, and no longer suffering from fatty liver disease. Heck, at 49 years old, I joined the National Guard to complete my 20 years of military service.
Never give up on your loved ones. If you really care, you need to have the uncomfortable conversations with them about health. Encourage them to do some reading, and to make some changes in their lifestyle in regards to eating that can yield some really amazing results. Notice I didn’t say fitness. Most fat people can’t and won’t consider any plan that requires lots of fitness in the beginning because of so many social stigmas attached to overweight people exercising coupled with the extreme discomfort that comes with it. I didn’t start running until I had lost over 110 lbs (and I’m very happy with that decision, thank you!).
If you’re on the receiving end, know that the people who talked to you about your health love you and care about you so much, they risked your being angry or upset with them to give you a message you need to hear. You may not want to hear it, but it needed to be said. Instead of being angry or upset with them, think about it. Do the research. Start eating right. That’s all you have to do. It’s not easy, but it is simple. Give it a try. All you’ve got to gain is your health, and perhaps more years of life.