Obesity has recently been classified as a disease, starting the debate anew why we should give ‘those lazy people’ yet another excuse why they ‘don’t pull themselves together and just show a little more self-discipline’.
The fitness industry bears its share of blame for this attitude, pointing to the fact that we as fitness professionals are confronted with the same food choices and, for the most part, go for the green and low calorie options. We also exercise, get our heart rate just were it needs to be, and some have a great story how they were able to shed x number of pounds by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Good for them; I could not be happier. But can we really extrapolate so easily from ‘us’ to ‘them’?
There are not many ways in which I can relate to a person who is overweight and goes to food for comfort. When I get stressed, I lose my appetite to the point that the mere thought of food makes my nauseous. Come to think of it, my survival chances would have been very marginal if I still lived in a cave.
However, I remember my struggle to quit smoking when I was 21, after having smoked for about 5 years. Well, I pulled myself together and showed self-discipline and quit cold turkey. 37 years later, I never touched another cigarette, and for the longest time I would not have dared to for fear to start over again.
So why don’t these ‘lazy obese people’ do the same? But wait – you can’t just stop eating. Not only are the overweight confronted with the challenge of consistently reducing their food intake, they are at the same time constantly bombarded with enticements of any imaginable kind. It is hardly surprising that so many are just giving up. We are hard-wired to eat as much as possible when food is available. For millennia, this has ensured the survival of any species, humans included.
So: do I have an answer to this problem? No; if I did, I would not write a blog but a book and make millions. But I hope that everybody will support those who are trying to lose weight in any way possible and by not judging and stereotyping just because their personal genetic make-up makes it easier for them to control what for others is uncontrollable.