My Personal Battle With Obesity
More Help with Obesity
by J.C. Delfino III
Having once suffered from obesity I can understand it to a degree, for the topic truly is beyond simple understanding. What led to my condition? A bag of chips and a movie? A non-nurturing home? Low self-esteem? A comfortable chair? A combination of all of the above?
Obesity was a choice for me, I wasn’t always obese, and I am no longer, dropping from 250 pounds down to 175. How many times have you heard over the last few years, “Don’t pick on them because of their weight problem”, or seen shows on Oprah or Ellen about the turmoil of obese people? “People are likely to judge an overweight person as lacking in willpower and as being self-indulgent, personally offensive and even morally or socially unfit” (Newman, 2012). It is no secret that obesity “places us at increased risk for a number of medical problems, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes and [even] death (Huffman, 2007). We watch shows like the Biggest Loser where obese people compete for the prize by losing pounds. It leads us to believe it is a matter of will. Remember that next time you are tired and just want to relax and watch a movie; you could be working out…if it was just a matter of will.
Having said before that I was obese, let me explain my journey though obesity and where I am now. When I graduated high school, I weighed in at a whopping 145 pounds, married and gained 20 pounds, divorced and lost 40 pounds, so at 21 I weighed in at a measly 125 pounds tone but not muscular, flat stomach and all. Then I met my second wife, she soon was with our first child and I gained weight right along with her, I like to think it was sympathy weight gain, but maybe I just liked to eat. She had the baby and lost most of the weight and I unfortunately did not.
So even though I worked in a saw mill, which should have helped me lose the weight, I managed to keep it on, simply by coming home and eating dinner, then a snack while watching TV or reading a book. I found myself associating with obese people and eating out often at places where the food was greasy, fried food and burgers, fast food was my preference and looking around often I would make contact with other obese people who joined me in these establishments. Newman points out that 65% of Whites are overweight and 72 to 76% of minorities are considered overweight (Newman, 2012). It was never difficult to find overweight or obese people to associate with.
Except for McDonalds most of these places catered to the obese and most of the clientele was overweight or obese. Rarely did you find a physically fit person there, and if you did it was at McDonalds on a rainy day with their kids playing away on the jungle gym.
After my second divorce I didn’t quickly lose weight, but I realized something, hanging out at home by myself wasn’t for me and I only had my kids every other week, so I started walking around my new neighborhood, meeting neighbors and getting to know people. The weight started to drop slowly, just by the will of moving.
I soon found myself with the energy to do more, and eventually even run, I will admit, running is a great way to lose weight and I quickly began to lose weight.
Looking back, I noticed a pattern to myself, when in a socially accepting relationship, where you are “accepted for who you are” you change, you get content, and in my case you get lazy. Many of the traits that David Myers points out in his book Psychology in Everyday Life I felt; slow, lazy, sloppy, less friendly, meaner, and obnoxious; these are self-image perceptions to many obese people (Myers, 2009).
I know what to watch for if I ever marry again, I want to be in a physically active relationship, because social influence is very powerful. I find myself now having a homemade sandwich in the park, playing a game of Frisbee or Bocce with my kids, or walking down the greenbelt. Places where socially you will find people who are in better physical condition. I believe wholeheartedly that obesity can be overcome, but it takes more than just a change of diet, and exercise, it needs social support and possibly social change.
C. Wright Mills called this sociological imagination, and Newman explained that Mills argued that although we feel that much in our life’s experiences are personal. Many of them are direct results of society-wide trends and thoughts. He went on to say that “Mills did not mean to imply the sociological imagination should debilitate us – that is force us to powerlessly perceive our lives as wholly beyond our control.” (Newman, 2012).
In fact, we are in complete control of our bodies, we control our intake, we control where we eat, we control when we exercise, and we control where we socialize. We do need to realize although, that we are partially controlled by the social contacts we make. David Myers pointed out that children with obese parents are more likely to be obese then children with normal weight parents. Boys are three times more likely and girls are six times more likely. Our health affects our kids too (Myers, 2009).
I think Mills would agree with me, that in my personal battle and the battle that millions of others are facing is one of two fronts, our own battle and the battle of our society. It can be won, but it takes a three prong attack, diet, fitness and social change.
So if you are serious about losing weight, you must make changes in all three of these areas, you want to change your diet, eating healthier and fewer calories, you must become active, even if it is just a walk around the block, and you must begin to socialize with people who are fit, you must change where your influence is. Newman went on to say that a person's chances of becoming obese increase significantly when he or she has a close friend who is obese (Newman, 2012).
For more information on weight loss please check out my article on The Ten Steps of Weight Loss.
Huffman, K. (2007). Psychology in Action. River Street: Jay Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Myers, D. G. (2009). Psychology in Everyday Life. New York: Worth.
Newman, D. M. (2012). Sociology 9. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.