Monday, October 25, 2010

The Morbid Elephant in the Room

I didn't want to write about this for fear of being perceived as the "skinny, insensitive jerk". But if this post pushes someone towards a healthier lifestyle, then it's all worth it.

Think back in your life. Have you ever seen someone who has lost a drastic amount of weight (in a good way), and said, "Wow you look great! You've really lost weight!" Probably. Even if someone seems to have dropped about 5 - 10 lbs that they could afford to lose, you usually comment on it. Now... let's flip it. Everyone's seen someone with the "Freshman Fifteen", or who just happened to gain a couple pounds over the holidays. Do you point it out and say, "Looks like you've picked up some weight there, chubbers!" Of course not.

But why don't we? Why are we as friends eager to tell someone that their belt doesn't match their shoes, or "I don't think the Cassie haircut is for you", but slow to tell them that their health is in danger with the extra pounds? Throwing all aesthetic concerns to the side, being overweight and/or obese is simply bad for your health. Forget the fact that it's difficult to find clothes, or squeeze into a tight spot on the train; what about the fact that simply being overweight increases the risk of death by 20 - 40%.?

We don't want to talk about it, because we're afraid of hurting people's feelings. But if you really love someone, if you are truly being a great friend, don't you look out for someone's best interest in something as important as their health? I'm not suggesting that you go out and tell casual associates and strangers on the street, to, "Put down the ice cream, pick up a bike!" But for the people who matter to you most, your close friends, your family, the people who value what you have to say... tell them the truth. Be kind, honest, and proactive in creating solutions. Suggest that you take a yoga class together or opt for the stairs instead of the elevator. Talk about their health, not about their appearance because that's what matters.

A few stats that should motivate you:
  • Only 65% of obese Americans said they were ever told by a doctor that they were overweight.
  • The Center of Disease Control reported that about 1 in 10 adults have diabetes, and that by 2050, if we continue on the track, 1 in 3 adults will. Excessive body weight is linked to about 77% of diabetes cases in women (64% in men.) - Washington Express, 10/25/10
  • 63.1% of Americans are overweight or obese.
  • On average, obesity reduces life expectancy by six to seven years.
  • The rate of obesity among children and adolescents in the United States has nearly tripled between the early 1980s and 2000. In 2008, the rate of overweight and obese children in the United States was 32%.
You may be thinking, "Don't they already know they're overweight? Doesn't the world constantly remind them with their ads and such?" Well, I know I should pay my tithes to the church, but a friendly reminder from my pastor every few weeks doesn't hurt either.

On the "I love me, just the way I am" movement.
If you're a size 22 or a size 2, God loves you just the same. However, isn't the best evidence of self-love, self-preservation? If you subscribe to the idea that your body is a temple, a sedentary lifestyle coupled with fried delicacies is incongruous with respect to your temple. Yes, you should love yourself and be proud of who you are. Love yourself enough to ensure that you're around for a while.

On parents who feed their children adult-sized meals and create unhealthy eating habits:

Another quick anecdote that proves we have a problem:
I was in Philly, helping a friend move, along with his 15 year old cousin.
He gestured at the vegetable next to his wings, and said, "You want my asparagus?"
Me (floored): You mean celery?
Him: Oh... yeah.
Me: Maybe you should eat it; you haven't had any veggies today.
Him: Uh huh! I had orange juice. And water!
Me (DYING INSIDE): Orange juice is made from oranges... a fruit. Water is not... a... vegetable.
Him: You sure?
Me: (Exit stage left to cry into a corner, bemoaning our future)

What are your thoughts?
1. Have you ever told someone they should lose weight? If so, how did it go?
2. How would you feel if a good friend told you that you needed to lose weight?
3. Any tips on what to say?

I found a free BMI calculator. Check yours now!