Thursday, April 19, 2012

Does every overweight person need to lose weight?

I'm still working on writing my weight loss story. I'm not the best writer and it's a long, complicated story so I've been procrastinating. But I'll get to it because I really enjoy reading other people's stories! Reading the Future PriorFatGirl applicants, it is amazing the variety of motivations people have for losing weight. Along with this post from Shawn at 344pounds I got to thinking, are there reasons for every overweight person to aspire to lose weight? That's a really hard question and there are so many aspects to consider.

Shawn's post regarding extrinsic forces is a good one, though a bit jarringly written. (And certainly, it was purposefully written in that tone.) Those factors are what a lot of the applicants for PriorFatGirl have written about so far. Family, especially their own children or the desire to have their own children someday, is mentioned quite a bit. That's a great benefit of losing weight but I'm as dubious as Shawn when it comes to whether you can rely on someone else to motivate you, even if it's your own children. I like Liz's post for it's honesty about how it felt to not be picked and how she has moved on from needing that push from outside to a motivation within herself!

On a strictly health-based analysis, general consensus is that obesity increases your risk for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, etc. You may check out just fine today but these are cumulative diseases so after years of needing to pump just a little harder, your heart will start to show signs distress. Your joints will sustain greater impact due to extra weight and could become arthritic. You liver, gallbladder, spleen and other organs can also suffer. I doubt you can find a doctor who wouldn't advise a patient with 50+ extra pounds to lose weight. So is there at least one reason for every overweight person to lose weight? Yes, if they value health and a quality long life.

If an overweight person is truly content and comfortable with their body, happy and confidant that weight loss wouldn't add anything of value to their lives (including the possibility of more years), then certainly that is reason to stay just as they are. I was not. I don't want to give the impression that every waking hour of my overweight life was misery or that I dwelled on my weight significantly each day. I was happy, I enjoyed life! If you asked me, I would have said I was fairly content with my life. But deep in my mind I felt like others had more fullness in their lives and that I was missing out on opportunities because of either my physical size/coordination/abilities or because of the way I thought people perceived me/how they would perceive me if I tried certain activities. This was a block in my own mind and no amount of confidence-building efforts by others could have any affect until I made up my mind on my own what needed to be done to allow me to experience everything life has to give. Example: In order to feel confidant enough to tackle a dance class, I needed to be ABLE to tackle a dance class at a level that I felt confidant while doing it. How circular is that? For me, this meant losing weight in order to improve my cardiovascular power, my balance, coordination and flexibility. And when those things improved and I was able to do the things I wanted to do, my self esteem, my sense of self-worth and my comfort in my own body improved not strictly as a result of losing weight but also because I was in charge of my life, making all those decisions.

Does every overweight person need to lose weight? No. And I sometimes struggle with that, judging other and thinking "How can that person eat like Paula Deen, doesn't she know how bad that is for you?" or "Why doesn't that lady on the treadmill take her workout seriously?" You know what? They could be perfectly content just the way they are, doing just what they're doing and why on earth do I feel the need to comment in my own head about their choices? So one of my goals is take the advice fit girls like Jill, Angela, and Shelly and not judge anyone for anything! I am only an expert on my own life.

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