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Part 2: American weight a disease or something else?

July 6, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
I again apologize if I offended folks on my Facebook site a few weeks ago when the AMA declared obesity a disease treatable by modern medicine in the United States of America.

“Hey Fat People” was not a good way to get started with a real discussion about the issue of obesity-as-disease, anymore than Glen Beck starting a discussion with a book entitled “Arguing with Idiots” makes for good dinner conversation between centrist me and righty The Boss (at Home). She always leaves that sitting right out, facing me. Her way of saying the Deborah Barone-inspired, “Idiot!” to me, I suppose.

I struggle every day with weight and even after nearly four years, there are days I fight with my brain against the idea that “the gym will be there tomorrow and we worked hard in the office today, so let’s go home.” That is even knowing that working out turned and avoiding food temptations as a diet staple turned my liver from a piece of hardening, failing junk to a functioning piece of humanity with all its numbers running right straight down the middle, according to Trinity Health System’s lab.

In my case, it took commitment to change, to start reading labels. To recognize what we do to ourselves. There are no magic bullets, no matter what the AMA says. Somewhere, there will be a pill that will trash something else in your body while helping weight loss.

Chuck Runyon, co-founder of Anytime Fitness, wrote a book called “Working Out Sucks.” (Full disclosure, yes, I worked for the local franchise of his company during my 19 months away from the newspaper. I met the man and was impressed by him and his book.) He outlined reasons Americans don’t work out, in advocating change. And yes, he wanted folks to hopefully go to his company, but the purpose was to get folks moving anywhere, to recognize everyone from the blob on the couch to Arnold himself battles excuses, and to know we're not alone...but we have to get started.

Those reasons not to start are not all in your head. They’re all around you, from the constant bombardment with food ads (which now expand to your pallies on Facebook posting all kinds of delectible but not really good for you pictures and recipes), to the well-meaning celebrities who undergo dramatic but unrealistic transformations. Then there are the depressing images of people in such good shape in the clothing ads, and the judgmental attitude, real or perceived, that heavy folks are somehow less, though more.

That doesn’t sound like a disease. Sounds like human nature. We’re all sick, then.

It’s lifestyles that have to change, and changing the way you choose to live is hard. It sucks.

Faced with all of that, “Round is a shape” becomes the defeatist motto, and a disease declaration makes us all feel less unworthy because we could not, would not, cannot change. We have something wrong with us.

Which misses the point. This taking care of yourself isn’t about looking good. It’s about feeling better. And there’s nothing wrong with a lot of heavy people other than self-confidence and fear and depression and defeatism. Not everyone. Many, I think. that’s not easy to consider. It wasn’t for me, but I’m not that unique.

Thinking its about image and appearance and the easy motto contribues to the American obesity epidemic.

To be continued tomorrow.


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