If you read my last blog, you know I’ve started a new lifestyle, designed to make me healthier. To do it I’ll need to work on my physical, emotional, and mental health, after all, the three can’t really be separated. But the changes that I make in all three areas will result in physiological changes. Success will mean lower blood pressure, better hormonal balance, satisfying sleep and yes, a healthier weight.
“Oh,” you might say. “So, this is just about weight loss then?”
No. It’s about health which is about so much more than weight. However, there’s no way around it, a healthy weight is important, so I’ve got to blog about it. But before I do, there’s something much more important that I want to say.
I’m not egotistical enough to think I can just write a blog and change anyone’s life, but maybe, just maybe this is a start. So here it is.
I overeat and I need to lose some weight. It is not who I am. It does not define me. It says exactly zero about me. I am not publicly ashamed or embarrassed.
If you overeat or are overweight, I don’t think you should be either.
Have you ever heard someone openly discuss, say, an overspending problem? I have. Maybe you’ve heard someone say they need to work on an anger issue. Maybe they yell at their kids and then go online and shop. What about wasting time on Facebook while they’re at work? Nail biting? Smoking? Drinking? Gambling? Gossiping? You can stand in mixed company at a gathering, at a party, with friends, with coworkers and say all these things. No one looks at the floor. No one suddenly feels awkward and skulks off. Oh, but if you’re overweight…shame. Shh…taboo.
Shame on you. You have a character flaw. You’re overindulgent. You lack self-discipline and control. You have no dignity. You don’t care about yourself or respect your body. You’re inherently lazy, sloven, greedy. You should be humble.
We all need to work on our issues, but to define someone by an issue, to assign personality characteristics – no.
Let me tell you why you are overweight: You ate too much food.
You aren’t bad. You aren’t guilty. You aren’t lazy or greedy. You are still you. Exactly the you that you were before you gained the weight and did the eating. It means nothing about you or your character.
It’s one of so many lies told about and against women. The emotional baggage that comes with women’s weight issues inordinately impacts and sometimes ruins countless experiences and lives. And it is utter nonsense.
Now let me tell you why you eat too much: Well, here’s a theory: it’s tasty and delicious.
Right now, you might be thinking, “Why doesn’t she rename her blog ‘Stating the Obvious’?”
Well, hear me out.
I could write a whole bunch here about all the reasons we overeat: over availability, addicting additives, emotional problems, desk jobs, bla bla bla. These same issues (well, except for the addictive additives) make us shop, drink, smoke, and gamble, but there isn’t quite the same public shaming and complete character assassination attached to these other issues.
Today, right this minute, I wish I could convince every woman, every person, who reads this blog, that your weight is not YOU. It’s not a reflection on your character. The only thing it says about you is that you ate too much food – you have issues with food. That’s it. Nothing more. Maybe you already know you didn’t overeat because of a flawed character, but you also know that it’s considered “unseemly” for a heavy woman to be happy, confident, and yes, shameless. Talk about unhealthy attitudes!
Look, We have to follow the science. Extra weight isn’t healthy. We all need to eat the right amounts, of the right foods, for the right reasons. But that’s the whole story. There’s no other reason to address our food and weight issues. And even when we have health problems – some of them serious – it doesn’t mean we have to be serious. I mean, what’s with the life-ruining, soul crushing, character-defining stuff? If you have an issue with food, money, anger – work on it, but don’t let it define you.
Easier said than done, right?
Sometimes I think about Oprah Winfrey and her very public struggles with her weight and food issues. She has, and continues, to accomplish and contribute so much. But much of her energy, money and effort has been spent on struggling with weight loss and food. She’s a powerhouse of intellectual energy. She’s done other things, but still I wonder where she would have put her efforts if so much of them hadn’t been consumed with weight loss – not that her contribution on that topic hasn’t been huge! It has – just her candor about it has been a tremendous help, if you ask me.
I need to work on my weight, but not so I won’t be ashamed. I need to be a healthy weight for medical reasons. While I’m working on it, I’ll be continuing with my life, and I’ll be happy. My life won’t wait to start until I hit a magic number on the scales. And in the meantime, I won’t be meek or small or reserved. I won’t try to be extra sweet, or funny, or humble, or quiet.
Sometimes I eat too much. I’m working on it. In the meantime, I’m going to be shamelessly me.
Oh, and a footnote – perhaps I’ll write about something besides health and fitness one day soon. Did y’all know there might be pyramids in Bosnia?
Until next time, let’s try not to take life too seriously, unless we’re being seriously quirky.