It was about three years ago that I first started to do something about my weight. I weighed 155 pounds. For my height, according to the CDC, that is right on the border between normal and overweight. I essentially responded by eating smaller portions. I don’t finish all the food on my plate when I eat at restaurants, and I don’t make huge meals at home. This was a relatively easy change, and it has been surprisingly easy to keep up. I don’t miss gorging myself. Eating less didn’t cause my weight to drop much, but it halted the slow, steady gain.
Then last summer I bought a bicycle and committed myself to daily exercise. I stayed on that routine surprisingly well, but then the cold weather and my move blew that all apart. Still, I had lost some weight, and I was feeling and looking better. I was down to 145. However, my diet continued through the winter, and I continued to lose a little weight. When I started at the new gym, I was astonished to see that I weigh 140. My obvious challenge now will be getting back into a regular exercise routine, especially since I am more interested in toning my body and building muscle than simply losing weight.
Anyway, the point I have taken away from this is that it was surprisingly easy. There was no magic pill, but once I made the commitment, it happened. Cause and effect. Diet and exercise lead inevitably to weight loss.
This has caused me to start looking differently at others who have weight issues. Previously, I viewed individuals with weight issues as having been dealt a bad hand. Genetics, poor eating habits as children, McDonald’s made me fat, etc. I was sensitive to their predicament because I believed it was largely out of their control. Weight loss, judging from all the talk, is very difficult. However, my own experience has shown me that it is within our control. If we are overweight, it is because we have not decided to take the necessary steps to correct our problem. And if we have not decided to do something, then we have effectively decided not to do it. People who are overweight are overweight because they have decided not to deal with their weight.
We are fat because we choose to be fat.
I have a whole lot less sympathy now for people with weight problems. If their weight really bothers them enough, they will choose to do something about it. Or not. If they are not doing something about it, then how can they complain?
Sure, I realize that it takes mental discipline to control your eating and to keep exercising. The natural motivation of our bodies is to eat and conserve energy, and it is always an uphill struggle to assert our rational choice over our animal instincts. And yes, I realize that it is very difficult to imagine changing the way you think about things. Also, I realize that there are genetic components, and very commonly psychological components, which become big barriers to this kind of change. However, it is a matter of physics that diet and exercise inevitably leads to weight loss.
Less sympathy is one thing, but lately I have noticed something else. I am becoming offended. I am offended when someone else tries to make their problem into my problem. The most recent example was a photo I took of someone at a party, which was deemed “not flattering” (it depicted her appearance accurately, and I skipped over several photos of her that were quite unflattering). McDonald’s gets blamed for making people fat. The most common problem is people trying to convince me that I am shallow if I am not attracted to overweight women. Or trying to convince everyone that it is overweight is really normal. (It is normal in this country to be overweight. According to the CDC, three-quarters of the adult population in the United States is overweight, obese, or morbidly obese.) Instead of accepting your problem for what it is, the rest of the world is expected to adjust our thinking to accommodate your problem or to pretend it doesn’t exist, and anyone who refuses is insensitive.