Being fat was never a problem to me until it started to become one. I have always been on the ‘larger’ side of the dress sizes, comfortably fitting into 14, 16 and 18 sizes. (Yes, I am aware that people are bigger but lets face it, size 18 isn’t small exactly…) I never really got upset about it. After all, I was in perfect health despite the extra weight. I was doing all the normal activities (work, cooking, sleeping, socialising). And I knew I looked good even when I was at my biggest with a BMI (Body Mass Index) exceeding 35. Being fat really was not a problem for me…
But one day I started having shortness of breath climbing just one flight of stair case. The photographs showed my face as bloated and my stomach sticking out. I could no longer fit into my favourite T-shirt and leggings and when I got onto the weighing scales (after 5 years) I was absolutely mortified to realise that over time I had gained 10kg of weight. Now you may not consider this much of an issue. After all, people have worse problems, right?
Obesity. And yes that is what I am (or was, 2 months ago) is the single biggest problem and a silent killer. Did you know the WHO (World Health Organisation) lists the following health problems as increased risk of developing from prolonged and sustained obesity:
- Fertility problems (some women stop menstruating as a consequence of excess weight)
- Diabetes Mellitus, Type II
- Cardiovascular problems (high cholesterol, heart disease, heart attack)
- social anxiety (due to low esteem and image issues)
Still don’t think obesity is something to be worried about? Here are some ‘lovely’ statistics…
- In 2008, more than 1.4 BILLION adults were either overweight or obese. This figure has nearly doubled since 1980.
- In 2014, this figure reached 1.9 BILLION, of which 600 MILLION were classified as obese.
- 2.8 MILLION people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese
- In the 21st century eating too much kills more people than not eating enough. In recent years being overweight is more likely to kill you than being underweight
But what makes us obese? Babies are not born fat but it is clear that fat children tend to become fat adults. Well the simple answer is an imbalance of calories.
If calorie intake (through the food we eat) is higher than the calories we burn (through metabolic processes of the body like respiration and excretion and physical activities like walking and swimming), then we will GAIN weight.
If calorie intake is less than calories burned, we loose weight. To maintain weight, calorie intake must equal calories burnt.
Of course, it is never that straightforward. Obesity is partly genetic. Some families do have a lower metabolic rate which is inherited. Women tend to have less muscle mass and therefore require less calories in a day. Shorter people also need to eat less. Athletes and labour-intensive work requires more calories and some individuals will have metabolic disorders which means they put on weight more quickly than normal. Not to mention our sedentary, stressful, fast-paced and junk food laden, 21st century lifestyle is completely maladaptive to our body’s health. But the harsh reality is that these are all ecxuses. And trust me, I’ve used excuse upon excuse to shift the blame onto something else. But the only person to blame is me. I am fat because I let myself become so. I was not born fat.
But do you know what the truly wonderful thing was about stepping onto the weighing scales? Acceptance. I looked at myself and decided to accept that I was fat. And it was empowering because then the decision to not be fat anymore was also in my hands. Obesity is not permanent. Obesity can be prevented. And it is one of the most difficult things I have had to do, but I did do it. I am still obese and still have a long way to go but I am on the road to becoming a healthier individual.
I won’t be another statistic!
Join me in the next update where I discuss loosing weight, getting fit and staying healthy. The next instalment went this way. –> Click here for more obesity related posts