Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Heavy Stuff

I found myself in the middle of an interesting conversation the other day. It basically centered around weight, fitness, and healthy versus unhealthy lifestyles. There was me, a sixty year old overweight man, and four different woman – all approximately my age – gathered and chatting about the challenges that we and others face. The other women who were there actually comprised an interested mixture of body types – one was shaped very similarly to myself, two were average looking (one having lost a small amount of weight a few years ago), and the fourth was underweight.

We discussed many different things… what was going on in our lives when we had weighed more or less than we do now, some of the things that people say to motivate or sabotage weight loss progress, the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to gaining pounds and to health in general, the difficulty some of us had with the extreme terms ‘obese’ and ‘underweight’, and what a healthy lifestyle actually looks like in the real world.

For myself there was an emotional undercurrent to the conversation. I don’t know if it was me putting feelings onto others, but I thought I sensed the discomfort of the other oversized woman as we talked. I believe that there was a very small displeasure that I picked up from one of the average-sized women regarding my ‘health kick’. I also felt like the tiniest of us was facing her own battles since I have been told there are a couple of stomach issues resulting in her much smaller frame. For me, I have long suffered the self-loathing of being obese and couldn’t help but wonder if the others were sizing me up as much as I was them. What were they thinking of me?

I suppose what I took most from the conversation was that it was a relatively comfortable one. Regardless of the underlying thoughts and feelings that we all were experiencing as we stood there chatting, it also seemed very normal. It was a group of people discussing an issue about which we were all able to share different opinions, experiences, and insights. We were not divided by our varying shapes, but rather brought together because of a topic that literally weighs on today’s society.

I am never going to say that people who do not struggle with weight issues will understand exactly what I go through when I consume an entire large bag of potato chips washed down by a two liter of soda pop, nor what I experience when I turn down a simple piece of cake. But, perhaps, I can be more open to the idea of discussing those problems in front of others. I had already started this trend with a couple of close friends, but this group conversation was good for me. I hope that this lesson remains with me and that I am able to put aside the unease that I feel even as I write this, and be more willing to talk aloud about the problems that I have with my weight.

- 12 glasses of water throughout the day
- 1 1/2 cups of grapes
- 2 cups of Caesar salad with light dressing and croutons
- 8 large crackers
- 2 cups of a veggie platter with mushrooms, carrots, celery, and cauliflower with rancher’s choice fat free dressing
- 1 burrito with seasoned ground beef, grated cheese, lettuce, mushroom, seasoned rice, and light sour cream
- 2 bananas
- 3/4 cup of fruit cup yogurt

- 2 sets of 5 minutes of weight lifting with 2.5 lbs per arm
- 45 minute walk
- 2 sets of 30 stomach crunches
- 2 sets of 10 squats


  1. I never talk about what I'm doing (in terms of changing my diet and exercise and weight loss and whatnot) except with a select few people who've been "pre-approved." I'm not sure why, I just feel so shy about it and afraid that people will be judging me in some way. I wish I had more conversations like that in my life though. I learn so much from them.

  2. When I was morbidly obese I didn't talk about my struggles with eating two meals, or entire bags of chocolate. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I wish I could have been more open with people. Maybe it wouldn't have taken me so long to lose my weight!

    Very great post - thought provoking to be sure.

  3. Everyone has their own demons, per say. Just because yours is different doesn't make them anymore important or less important then the next person. I'm learning as I go that there will always be someone that laughs, tries to understand, and those that are disgusted by what you say or do. But I'm not going to let them or anyone else sabatoge my efforts, regardless what they think. If by being open and talking about your feelings and ups and downs helps you along your journey, then open up and who cares what others think, there are enough of us that will stand behind, beside, or wherever you need us to stand to help you get through.

    By the way, your doing great.

  4. Uncomfortable = absolutely describes how I used to feel when talking about my weight. Now that I've lost 58 pounds and am more active -- the conversations do not bother me so much.
    I still feel like people judge everything I eat, though. Very unpleasant feeling to say the least.

  5. This post is very thought-provoking. I immediately started to think that our silence about weight issues is the very reason there are so many negative stereotypes about fat people. If we don't share our struggles, feelings, & desire to be healthier (&/or thinner), I think people DO just assume we are fat pigs and eat whatever we want, whenever we want without regard for the toll it takes on our health.
    By sharing our struggles people are able to get a glimpse into who we really are & why and how we got to this point. Maybe someone is grieving or was sexually abuse or whatever their reason is. We are all using food to protect us from something. None of us came from the womb being gluttonous. We learned this along the way.
    I think by being open about our struggles we will be able to debunk some of the terrible stereotypes about fat people. Change starts with us. If we act differently, people will have to react differently to us. We need to stop living in our secret "fat world".

  6. See... now I just feel like that great conversation was continued with all of you on an even deeper and more intimate level. Thank you all for sharing and for your wonderful insights.