Obesity: Yep it’s a problem but…

First off, a couple of definitions for you over critical size 8 columnists out there :

Plus size: [referring to clothing or people (not just women)] of a size larger then the normal a certain range.

Obesity: is a complex disorder involving an excessive amount of body fat.

Body Mass Index (BMI): is a person’s weight in kilograms (kg) divided by his or her height in meters squared.

I have always believed that people with the opportunity to use platforms that reach multiple people have a responsibility to give information that is factual, and is beneficial to whoever receives it. There are such individuals who use smarts, wit and fact to educate and entertain people, but there are also those who simply thrive off of shock value and unfortunately are supported by well the Daily Nation for instance. These people may be talented and might actually have some decent points on issues affecting regular folks today but it’s drowned out by ill spoken words and flat sarcasm.

Obesity is a problem, it has been for a long time, and believe it or not fat shaming only adds to the problem it rarely inspires those faced with it to ‘shut up and work out’. If you are genuinely concerned about a particular trend, read up on it, find an appropriate platform to discuss it and then make an educated argument, or make comments that are helpful. How you phrase things is another thing…don’t go making shallow half assed comments with base level truths and expect anything positive to come form it, all that you’ll be doing is showing that you are no better than a chimp with an etch a sketch.

Body image is a sensitive issue for a lot of men and women, and can be a source of frustration and pain. Everyone has something they aren’t comfortable with from height, to weight, to complexion…but I’ll focus on obesity, because that’s what I’m familiar with.

Now, being a fat woman, I am familiar with the challenges when it comes to weight loss. Food is addictive – the body rewards fatty, salty, sugary foods by releasing endogenous opioids, which help control pain. It’s even been suggested that high-fat, high-calorie foods affect the brain in much the same way as cocaine and heroin. Now one of the issues that some people face is not being able to love themselves. When you have people constantly bombarding you with negative criticisms and using phrases like ‘…you are a lazy glutton’, it’s very easy to turn to food to take some of that pain you’ve internalized away.

How someone becomes obese varies from person to person. I was on a show I while back as a favor to a friend and it was meant to be this weight loss thing where they’d ‘change my life’. On the show they had a table filled with fries and burgers and pizza…all this junk food to show viewers that that’s what I survive on – for dramatic flare. It’s a misguided belief to think that we all just spend 3/4 of our lives stuffing our faces with all things fried, if you are concerned take a moment to learn why that person got to that point in their life and help, or better yet just mind your own damn business and live your own life.

When it comes to the plus size community I am proud of how far people have come in promoting self love and calling out all fat shamers. Because when there are more people out there like you it’s easier to reach out to someone than stay hidden away sinking into a cycle of depression or worse yet develop an eating disorder. You need to love yourself first, without and within, before being able to make any life changing choices. Understand two things…beauty is subjective and you, and only YOU can, and should, choose how to live your life.

Now here’s my advice:

Keep fit: when working out set goals that you’re comfortable with. If it’s weight loss great, but one thing I think is important is to keep active. Join a gym, start a zumba class, go swimming or simply use the stairs at work or walk shorter distances instead of driving (like to the shops). Create small goals like ‘at the end of the month I will be able to walk up a flight of stairs without wheezing. If you’re self conscious about working out in front of people do it at home as part of your daily routine or work out with a good friend to keep you motivated (the shared laughs will help as well).

Eat better: I know junk food is tempting, but there are healthier alternatives that you can experiment with to still enjoy food as an experience. Doing small things like switching to brown rice, and eating a more veggie based diet may help. Also try eating 5 smaller portion meals as opposed to 3 larger ones.

If you can see a nutritionist this is the best thing you can do for yourself. Stop jumping onto every random diet you hear about, you could be making things worse instead of better.

Utensils: those large plates…get rid of them. They just encourage you to serve more than you actually need.

Stop making excuses: You know there will always be a good excuse not to eat right or not work out. You just need to figure out what you want , and how badly you want it, then go for it. It’s a struggle sometimes I know but this is where a good friend can help you stay accountable. I do this thing where at the end of the month measurements are taken, BMI calculated and confessions (and you get called out on your excuses) are made with some friends. It helps during those moments when I lack motivation on a particular day.

Dress up: My cousin is largely the one who got me out of the large shirt club, and I encourage you to do the same. Your body is how it is at this moment, embrace it even through it’s changes. Get dolled up. Clothes are a tool for self expression as much as they are meant to cover up our bodies, so learn what works for you. Don’t let pea brained critics limit you, wear what makes you feel good, just please don’t wear stuff that’s too large or too small, I don’t need to tell you how unflattering some outfits can be.

Find an outlet: Those insecurities and frustrations you have..let them out be it confiding in a friend, writing poetry, weekly salsa classes, yoga…whatever it may be. Don’t keep them inside because they’ll act like a poison and you’ll find yourself feeling miserable.

Do what makes you happy, don’t let anything impede you actually living (even your weight) and love yourself; make choices for YOU not for anyone else. Lastly I suggest flipping the bird to those tools who offer unsolicited advice from a place of ignorance, self loathing and bile.

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Let me know what you think :)

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