Is it REALLY OK to be Overweight?

This is a hard blog to write.  Hard because so many people struggle with their weight in this day and age, and I don’t want this to come off as if I am blaming or shaming anyone.

I write this article from the perspective of a fat man.  Yes, that’s right, I’m a fat man.  I weigh 185 lbs, I am 5’ 8 ½” tall, and I am about 12% bodyfat.  And I am a fat man.

My old weight loss coach – Harvey Brooker – taught me that truth early on in my weight loss project.  Back in 2003, between May and late September, I lost a total of 85 lbs of fat, and I’ve never put it back on.  But I am still a fat man.

Harvey used to remind me of this fact regularly.  I used to attend his weekly motivational meetings at his facility in Downsview where he still teaches men how to lose weight.  Periodically he would say to me – and to all of us – “You’re a fat man.  Whether or not you’re at your goal weight, you’re a fat man, and woe be unto you if you ever forget it.  You’ll regain your weight with a vengeance if you ever do.”  I’ve seen hundreds who have proven this truth in my time as a weight loss coach.

So I was physically fat all of my life until age 36, and today I am still “mentally” fat.  I’m no longer overweight, but I am fat, because my mind – even today – always seems to want to set me up to eat more than I need to.  It wants to focus on food a little too much for its entertainment value.  Or it wants me to eat to feel better.  Even now I still periodically have visions (delusions!) of becoming a gourmet chef, and I will say this, that’s not a good idea for someone who has struggled with weight gain in the past.  Not at all.

My before and after pictures speak to where I was before, and where I am now from a PHYSICAL standpoint.  I was physically fat, now I’m just fat “in my thinking.”  I manage the “mental fatness” by following certain disciplines every day of my life to ensure my thinking doesn’t put me back where I was, or even worse.

I felt I needed to establish my credentials as a person who has struggled with weight gain all of his life.  You’ll see why in what I’m about to say.

In a study published in the December 2014 issue of the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology the conclusion was drawn that “…overweight and obese individuals have the potential to decrease life expectancy by up to 8 years.”  8 years.  Compare that to smoking, which takes an average of 10 years off of your life.  Pretty much the same thing.

Other studies concur with these results.  Basically a BMI of 30 to 35 can reduce your life expectancy between 2 and 4 years, and over 40 can be upwards of 10 years.

It’s really quite simple.  I wouldn’t counsel a smoker to continue to smoke because they were happy with their appearance while smoking.  I couldn’t ethically do that.  If they asked my opinion, I would have to say that there is no good reason to continue smoking.  None.

I can’t find any other way to look at the overweight problem other than the same way I evaluate the smoking one.  I can’t, in good conscience, counsel anyone that it’s ok to remain overweight.  What I will say clearly is this: it is NOT an issue of vanity.  Losing weight for the sake of vanity is not the best reason to lean on.  If it works, great, but it’s not the best reason.  Health, longevity and quality of life are.

That’s my thesis today: that – if you’re overweight – you need to start losing it.  You need to for your family who loves you, and your friends who care about you.  You need to for yourself, so that you can get the best you can out of life.

I know what it’s like to move around 85 lbs overweight.  My BMI was 37.5 at one point, and just a bit lower than that at the beginning of my weight loss project.  That meant that I was headed for an early grave.  I knew about Diabetes, Stroke, Heart Attack and all the horrid possibilities contained in the term “Metabolic Syndrome,” but it would be 2 years after I looked at the picture you see here before I decided to take any action to take care of myself.

I’m glad I did.  My chances of being around – and being productive – for those who care about me now are much better.  Did I do it because of vanity?  Sure I did.  I was getting out of a marriage I was not happy in, and wanted to look good for any new prospects.  But mostly it was out of fear: fear of dying too young.

The evidence is in.  Being overweight will kill you younger than it has to.  In this I BEG OF YOU to please not hear shame, blame or judgment.  I am not urging you to lose weight to look better: I’m urging you to lose weight to live longer and healthier while you live.

Our medical system is already becoming more and more burdened by healthcare issues that could be solved through proper diet, exercise and weight loss.  People come to me all the time with a host of medical issues that can be solved easily through better health and a diminished waistline.  Consider this list:

  1. High Blood Pressure
  2. Type 2 Diabetes
  3. Sleeplessness and Sleep Apnea
  4. Fibromyalgia
  5. Joint Pain, especially in the knees and lower back; and
  6. A host of others too numerous to count here

Weight loss is not at all easy, not one bit, if you’ve struggled with food and with controlling it the way I have.  I BEG YOU to please not take this as an indictment against yourself, your will power, your intelligence etc., because the foods today are literally addictive.  It’s some of the hardest work we’ll ever do just to stop eating the foods that are causing us problems.

I’m a food addict.  Yup: not just a fat guy, but a food addict.  I’ve learned that there are certain foods I can’t eat, period, no more than an alcoholic could have just one drink.  That’s not true for everyone who’s overweight, but it does show how powerfully addictive the processed foods of today are.

If you want to lose weight but find it too mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically challenging, reach out for help.  Hire a qualified coach who can help you in each of the four areas just mentioned, because it’s about a lot more than just getting a food plan and starting a diet.

Remember that a problem shared is a problem halved.  The call you make might just give you the answer you need.  Remember, too, please: NO SHAME, NO BLAME, NO GUILT.  The past is gone: focus on the present, and move forward.  If you’re not perfect in your weight loss project, DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP.  Be gentle on yourself.  Slips are often a part of the process.

Now is the time to be gentle on yourself, but it’s also the time to lose the weight.  If you can’t do it for yourself, then do it for those who care about you.  That’s a good enough reason, isn’t it?