Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Being Frightened Into Weight Loss

It's the best way to get started I reckon! Fear is a great motivator. How I wish medical professionals who have weighed me over the last five years - quite regularly - had been brutally honest and said "Hey - you are much fatter than you should be. In fact, you are morbidly obese. Your blood pressure is high too..and you are retaining water round your ankles. What are you going to do about it?" But they don't. They have to remain silent, in those ante-rooms at the hospital where all the height/weight/blood pressure checks take place before you get to see the consultant. So the pleasant nurses say when they've finished "OK, just take a seat. Shouldn't be long to wait..."

We KNOW we are overweight, but don't you think it helps sometimes if people - professionals or loved ones I mean - remind us of the fact every now and then? My sons very occasionally say "You shouldn't be eating that if you want to lose weight Mum" and my usual reaction is to become very defensive. Usually I'll say something like "Oh, I've had a tough day. Just leave me alone..." or I'll concur and make an excuse "Yes, I know, but I have been so GOOD for ages. I just fancied a little treat..I shan't have another for a long while." In other words I mean..."Don't question me! Leave me alone to enjoy this!"

We can kid ourselves for years and years and years that we really are going to take the problem seriously and do something about it - and once we embark, people like me become slightly resentful that I have to behave and eat differently. Madness.

I quite like it when something fires me up and reminds me that being fat is unhealthy. I watched a TV programme last night about two overweight girls - in their early 20s - who joined two massively overweight women - in their 40s - for a week, in their home, and lived their lifestyle. Now the younger women were big as a result of partying, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, eating junk food and taking no exercise at all. They watched TV for pleasure or went online, and spent hours catching up with friends on Facebook. The older women - the middle aged ones were enormous. They ate massive portions of food at home..mostly fatty and fried, and sprinkled salt over everything. They didn't eat vegetables at all, and because they were so big they were permanently out of breath and house-bound. They could just about get out of their chairs and waddle. They drove everywhere...even to places just up the road from their home.

Anyway, we watched how they ate...and the younger women were given a wake-up call. Their diets and lives were different but these older women were also ill. They communicated, chatted, laughed together but took numerous pills every day. They couldn't wash themselves effectively, or put on their own shoes. if anything fell to the floor it stayed there. One woman was so big she slept in an armchair, fully clothed. One had ruined her kidneys, and both suffered from hypertension, ulcerated legs and Type 2 diabetes (Type 2 diabetes is caused by the overweight couch-potato lifestyle, and is quite different from Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes, which usually affects children because of a defunct pancreas, and has nothing to do with lifestyle, food or lack of exercise.)

These women, who hardly ever moved still wanted syrup all over their food and butter mashed into it to make a sauce. They tucked into fried foods and went to as-much-as-you-can-eat buffets because they couldn't be bothered to cook. They chose deep-fried everthing and still wanted salt to smother their greasy food even though they knew it harmed them.

Aren't we wierd? We KNOW that being fat is unhealthy but often we live with it for years and years until we become ill or until we appreciate that only we can make the necessary changes to avoid all the health-related complications of being obese. Our comfort zones become our ruts..and didn't some wit remark that a rut is just a shallow grave? Those women lived to eat, rather than ate so they could live. They had no real quality of life, but adored their food.

Anyway, I watched that programme last night and this morning first thing I was on my bike...doing two 20 minute sessions, pedalling hard so that I was slightly out of breath. I have to be more aware and pro-active than that though. One session of exercise because I was frightened into thinking about what I could become just isn't enough. I need to carry the impact that programme made with me every single day.

Sadly, that frightening impact fades and we have to find some other way to motivate ourselves into doing the right thing, all day long, and the day after that and the day after that - from now on. Every single day. Living healthily shouldn't end while we draw breath...and that is something I have to remember. My lifestyle has to change completely, not just for now and not just for days when I embrace weight-loss enthusiastically.. but forever.

For every single day you live you have to think about loving that body of yours and treating it properly. I started today well...I have to continue in the same way, doing it for me and my future. I am sick of seeing my puffy ankles and my rolls of belly fat. If you haven't had a good day so far, get up and change it now. It's never too late to work on yourself. Today can be rescued and it can end well. (I do of course have to say this to myself all the time.)

It's never too late to be who you might have been.

George Eliot, English novelist (1819 - 1880)


  1. I wish I'd seen that programme. It's sad when food becomes everything to someone - usually because there's nothing else, or the person feels there's nothing else. I was at that place for quite a few years.

    Good for you with your exercise bike session! And I love that George Eliot quote - very inspiring, and not just regarding weight loss!

  2. Congrats and good job getting out there on your bike!!! I wish I could see that show also. Do you know the name of it?

    Before I started loosing weight, I used to watch a show called "Obesity Clinic"... or maybe it wa just about an obesity clinic. Anyway, I realized the people there weren't all that much bigger than me. 250 can easily become 350 can become 500. It didn't really scare me so much as make me really consider that that was exactly where I was heading. No that wasn't what tripped my "get in shape" trigger but it was a good visual for what I didn't want.

  3. "ow I wish medical professionals who have weighed me over the last five years - quite regularly - had been brutally honest..."

    In America, they do this all the time. In fact, doctors can't focus on anything except your weight and constantly warn you about it. It's such a focal point that they blame everything on it and constantly try to scare you into losing weight. I guess this is a medical system difference, but I'd rather not be scared all of the time by doctors who do nothing more than say, "lose weight" without any guidance or support. They don't tell you how to do it. They just say do it. Or you'll die, of something... eventually. :-p

    Regarding T.V. shows about overweight people, I think they focus on people who live the most extreme bad lifestyles. Even when I weighed 380 lbs., I never ate the way people think fat people eat. No buckets of butter. No sugar all over everything. No salt all over everything. I did stuff all the time, though my back pain limited a lot of what I could do. I rode a bike everywhere because walking hurt too much, but I didn't go anywhere by car. My point is that I think what you see on those shows is not the way the average fat person lives, but is just the worst on display for entertainment purposes - and that in and of itself is disgusting because it's using people's mental and physical suffering in a manner which I think lacks humanity.

  4. Grump:
    For once I'm not laughing while reading your entry. Being obese is scary and brings with it a large (no pun intended) variety of serious health issues, not to mention how it affects our quality of life. I had a small slip last night, but reading this has shoved me back onto the right path.

    I have found a wonderful doctor, but he is just part of the "team". There is the Gym Nazi, and my blogging friends, and healthy girlfriends and my family all on board to cheer me on. It is not enough just to try and change yourself--you must change your environment. It truly takes a village to turn your entire life around.


  5. SFG - I completely agree that TV programme makers are exploiting the misery that comes from being fat. I think the same when I watch programmes like the Biggest Loser. It's almost as if those enormous people huffing and puffing and in pain as they exercise are getting their come-uppance for being lazy. There's a sort of "They can do it when there's a money incentive, they are screamed at and have to exercise." mentality. They also draw the viewers.

    Being fat is no joke..and I'd say the majority of fat people are miserable before they decided to act. I know I can speak for myself anyway in saying that. Just as the drug addict turns to addictive substances to look for a high to take him from his mundane existence, the overweight person reaches for food, to smother uncomfortable thoughts. Thankfully the women in the programme had full and frank discussions...and they were interesting. Yes, I sort of gawped, finding it incredible that there were some people out there who were managing their food intake SO badly..allowing their lives to slip away. Are any overweight people a million miles from that same scenario though? Yes, the women featured, both sets, were extreme examples of lives spent unhealthily, and the programme aimed to be sensational rather than instructional, but it did serve to give me a much-needed kick in the bum. I really don't want to be house-bound and reliant on others - ever.

  6. Thanks for your comment on my blog. I enjoyed your post today though I don't know that fear is something that can really keep you losing weight or help you maintain it. I've found in the past if I feel forced to do something I usually revolt. I think if a doctor picked at me I wouldn't want him/her as my doctor. I think far to often people that aren't obese just don't get it.

    The show you watched sounds very interesting. I think it's so sad when food becomes everything to someone. Hopefully the show woke up all the people involved not just the younger ladies.

    I've said it a lot that I believe weight loss is 80% mental. We really do have to fix our heads.

  7. bbubbly - you are so right. Losing weight is about thinking properly. It's definitely all in the head. I know from past experiences that when I was fired up mentally, losing weight wasn't a struggle at all.

    I just don't seem to have the same fire in my belly any more - or that positive drive going on in my head alas :(