I recently met someone who lost over 200 pounds on a healthy plant based diet. I posted what he told me about losing that much weight on facebook – and got some people who were offended. I won’t repeat exactly what he said (I don’t want to offend anyone)- but he did mention that he just “stopped whining” about eating healthy and he stopped eating dead things, and it just wasn’t that hard in the end.
I’ve been thinking about being fat a lot lately. I mean, I kind of live with being overweight every day of my life right now, (I still have over 100 pounds to lose) but lately it’s been on my mind a lot more.
My husband and I have been talking a lot about if it is ‘easy’ to go healthy/plant based or if it is really hard to get healthy. So that’s one part of it – and the other part of it was watching the show Glee last week.
So let me start with the easy thing. I am part of a very rare club. The morbidly obese club. Sure, you see tons of news programs in which they show the ass of someone very large walking down the street as to point out the obesity epidemic. But the truth is that most people are not morbidly obese, and the bigger truth is, you probably don’t know anyone personally who is morbidly obese. Everyone says they don’t see size, but in general I have a very hard time believing that, I see size, and I am and have been morbidly obese. I don’t get angry at people for seeing how large I am, it is part of our human nature. I don’t even expect everyone to accept and love me ‘just the way I am’. I don’t say this in a self loathing kind of way – just in a very honest and practical sort of way. Being morbidly obese is uncomfortable, not just for the person who walks around with the weight on, but often for the people who are closest to them.
I wish I could say that I have no clue how I got to be morbidly obese, but that would not be very honest. I know exactly how it happened. I am ashamed of how it happened. I hate myself for letting it happen. There is absolutely NOTHING worth being obese over.
It is not something I take lightly, at all, in anyway. It is something that is painful. Obesity means disease, it means your organs work harder than they need to, it means you are on the road or already have type 2 diabetes, it means your heart has to work extra hard to get blood to your body, it means pain in your bones, muscles, joints. It means not fitting in airplane seats, not fitting in the booth at a restaurant, it means not being able to use a stall in a public restroom, it means not being able to tie your shoes. It means a lot of very horrible things. It means early death.
When I look at all that being morbidly obese means, and I look at the answers to stopping obesity, it seems EASY. I can’t tell you how many diets I went on. Seriously, if you name one, I’ve been on it. Recently I put this theory to the test at a conference I spoke at, I had people tell me the diets they had been on – and I had been on ALL of them – some more than once.
And in the end, the answer? Has been FAR easier than anything that I have ever tried in the past, and I can tell you, it is FAR easier than being morbidly obese with out of control type 2 diabetes that almost killed me.
The answer was a healthy plant based diet. I don’t eat animals or things with animals in them – in addition to that I do not eat ANY oil, nuts, avocado, soy or gluten. I stay away from anything with salt in it, and I don’t eat anything that is processed.
Now, I know that might seem hard to anyone who is reading this. But you have to understand that I used to have to get my husband to tie my shoes, I used to be terrified of losing my life when I went to sleep – every single night. To me, eating this way is FAR easier.
This isn’t about it being easy or being hard, this is about me saving my life and about me living a better quality of life. Whether it is ‘easy’ or not went out the window a LONG time ago. For me, the most empowering thing that I did, was to get over myself, get over my hangups and stop all of the excuses, the “whining” if you will. That’s all I did when I was obese, I complained endlessly about how hard it was. And the more I complained, the less empowered I was, excuses were almost the death of me. I couldn’t do it for one reason or another, it was too much, it was too difficult, it was always something, and it landed me in a world of hurt and pain.
I think one of the worst parts about it all was that it didn’t happen over night. Now, yes, I did gain A LOT of weight when I hit puberty. That was kind of the starting point to a lot of years of eating badly and making a lot of excuses of why I was doing so. And, mostly, I knew what I was doing – I hated myself to the point where I would make excuse after excuse after excuse. I had no self empowerment, I kept telling myself how hard it was to lose weight, and after a while of that much self hatred and that many excuses, I started to believe it – I started to believe that I was that worthless, that I really could never make those changes.
Now, here is the flip side to all of this… So I was watching Glee the other night and the character “Mercedes” is put on a diet by the cheer-leading coach. She ends up starving herself and getting sick, and there is this scene in which one of her classmates is telling her how she is so strong for being so confident in herself, no matter what size she is. They end the episode by singing “Beautiful” one of my favorite Christina Aguilera songs. I was watching the show, thinking that it was really amazing that they showed this side of feeling good about yourself. They had people join them in singing who didn’t feel as pretty or popular as everyone else. I totally and completely think it is an outstanding message – especially for teens.
What upset me about it was the being confident in being overweight. Now, please, don’t get me wrong, I think we should feel beautiful and strong no matter what is going on with our outside. But lately (not just on glee) there have been some situations where being overweight or being ‘fat’ has been glorified in a weird way, or has been championed as something to be happy or proud of. I had someone tell me recently that they were just eating whatever they wanted, and they were fat but content with it, because they were “so happy” about eating whatever they wanted.
It’s a weird line for me. I don’t take being fat lightly at all. (no pun intended). It is great to say that you are confident in yourself, or that you love people no matter what their size, that is all nice, but there is a point where being fat is not something that is just something to joke around about or to think of as being something which is not a big deal – being fat is deadly.
Having a few extra pounds is one thing, not being a size 2 is one thing. But being obese is something that I take with as much seriousness as someone having terminal cancer. Obesity IS terminal. It is not a vanity thing, it is not something that we just have to learn to accept better, it is deadly, and it is not just hurting the individual, it is hurting an entire generation of children. When we teach that being obese or getting on the road to obesity is ok, we teach that being sick is ok, we teach that addiction is ok, we teach that getting a preventable disease is ok. It is not ok. It is dangerous, and it hurts. And by ignoring the problem, or by accepting it, it does not make it any better, in fact, it makes it a lot worse.
What they don’t show on Glee was the Mercedes character getting diabetes in a couple of years, and having to cut off a limb. It doesn’t show her not being able to walk up a flight of stairs or trying to figure out how to buckle a seat belt in a car. And I will tell you, that all the confidence and being ok with your body does not do you ONE bit of good when a Doctor tells you that you won’t have your eyesight in a few years, because you could not get your life in control to stop some really horrible addictions.
There is an answer, and to me it is an easy answer. In the end, it’s far easier than having a disease that could have been prevented. Being obese is not something that should be looked at as just some kind of physical hang up – I am not talking about crooked teeth or a tiny nose or a big forehead. I am talking about something that is actually deadly and that is far more pain than most can even imagine.
One of the most empowering things that I ever did was to stop making excuses, it was to stop and take my life in my own hands and stop the endless circles that got me into the very deadly mess that I found myself in. Ending the cycle has been the most beautiful thing I have discovered about myself. I have found a strength that I did not know existed about myself, I found something that took more courage and more hope than I thought were possible. It is the best feeling ever. Maybe to some that looks like me putting myself down, but to me, it is me in a place that is higher than any mountain than I could ever climb, it is me being the strong woman that I am, and not letting any disease ruin and take over my life.
If you are reading this and you are in the same boat as I was in – if you are headed down the path of death and destruction that IS obesity, please know that there is an answer and that you are strong enough and have enough courage to take your life into your hands and change it – forever, but it is up to you in the end. And I can say this with full confidence – I know that you are completely capable of turning it all around, right this very moment.