I’ve battled my weight for most of my life. The gain-loss yo-yo has always been about 20 pounds, until I hit menopause. Hormone shifts alter where body fat will attach itself while also making it infinitely more difficult to lose weight. Cravings that surge like tidal waves can prompt you to put unhealthy food into your pie-hole. (Mmmm. Pie.) Couple that with the older woman’s “who gives a shit” attitude and it’s a recipe for weight gain.
When I look back on this mid-20s era of my life, I’m startled by the difference between perception and reality. I would have told you I was fat. Evidence doesn’t support that. So, what was going on in my brain?
I remember interviewing a woman on my CHML talk show years ago. She was terribly obese, hospitalized because of it, and not doing anything to change it. Her support group guarded against fat-shaming, and this was 20 years ago before it was a thing. A stranger once slapped an ice cream cone out of her hand. His audacity prompted her to start the group.
A caller wondered what bystanders were supposed to do when someone was ruining their own health by overeating. The answer to that is, of course, nothing. Go back to the basics of being kind and remembering that everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
But that’s not how life works and shaming fat people, assuming they’re weak, continued. So I was intrigued this week to read the headline: Fat Shaming is Officially Over. After ascertaining it was in a scientific paper and not just click-bait, I read thinking, is this true?
Diets fail us. We all know someone who dieted their way to thinness only to gain back all the weight and more. That’s the routine for most people and yet we’re so desperate to lose the weight that we keep buying into the (mostly) myth of the permanent weight loss. Yes, it can happen but usually it works when you do it the hard way: eat better and exercise.
Alcoholics and drug addicts used to be thrown into sanitariums and treated like they were sub-human. Now we recognize addiction as a health issue. Finally, it appears the medical community is ready to approach obesity the same way.
Obesity Canada and The Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons are adopting new guidelines, approaching obesity as a chronic health condition. An excerpt from the article at healthing.ca:
Obesity needs to be viewed as a neurobiological issue, driven by a variety of hormones which influence people’s eating habits and behaviours. Medications such as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists can also increase the levels of hormones that make people feel full after eating, while antidepressant/anti-addictive medications can also manage cravings and hunger pangs. Cognitive behavioural therapy can also help people retrain the way they think about food.
I recently lost 15 lbs (about half of my goal) on Weight Watchers and then the diet simply stopped working for me. I tried a different program under WW and it didn’t work either. Clearly, I need to do something else and crash diets look awfully tempting. I get why they’re so popular. For now, I’m maintaining and trying to love myself no matter what the scale tells me.
I will not accept anyone (magazine, human, doctor) who tells me or anyone else they’re simply not trying hard enough. This is a journey, not a quick fix. And shaming in any form, for any reason, only makes the process worse.