03 January, 2007

Fat Is Not A Disease

This weekend I passed a major milestone in my weight-loss, and I was very pleased.

Six days before Christmas I was hospitalised briefly. My CBC came back with flying colours. My blood sugar was not elevated and all other levels were good. Except for the white blood cell count--elevated and the blood in my urine.

In short, I wasn't hospitalised because I was fat. I was hospitalised for something else entirely. And even though I'm a good deal less fat than I used to be, I was still sick and still in the hospital.

That's why stuff like this irks me.

The discussion is about the Nutrisystem weight loss ads where some moron rejoices about "[getting his] wife back" because she's lost 33 pounds. In the comments newton says

i'd beg to differ. any time that [my wife] bwe doesn't feel good about herself, for whatever reason, i get less of her and who she is. imagine that the commercial was for antidepressants and not jenny craig or whatever. would you feel the same way about it then?


Folks, forget what you've heard. Being fat, unlike being depressed or having cancer, is not a disease. Sure, it can complicate other conditions you have, but so can being out of shape or being short. Having narrow hips can make it extremely hard to deliver a baby vaginally, yet you don't hear narrow-hippedness being referred to as an illness. Being fat is a condition of the body. Not the most desirable condition for many people. I myself am quite happy to have lost weight. Yet I don't think it means my husband is "getting his wife back".

I've been here for our entire marriage. I am now thinner than I have been in 11 years--more than 2/3rds of our marriage. I certainly hope my spouse doesn't feel like he's been living with an imposter his whole life.

10 Comments:

At 1:26 PM, January 03, 2007, Anonymous Lesley said...

I understand that you have an issue drawing a connection between weight problems and mental illness, but it's true that weight problems can result in other issues that either lead to or are indicative of depression problems (though not all bouts of depression indicate that someone is "depressed" clinically and therefore has a medical problem/mental illness).

Frankly, how you take the ad and how you take Newton's comment is heavily affected by context. I'm coming from somewhere different than you that is more like the man in the commercial (as in, it's the BF who's dealing with weight problems right now).

 
At 1:38 PM, January 03, 2007, Blogger saraclark said...

Prepare yourself for an entire month of "fat" ads of all types. "Weight" is the great new marketing buzz word. Gain it, lose it, shape it, contain it. We will all be bombarded with ads and marketing plans all designed to push our buttons about fat. I hate it, I don't need the artificial, manufactured guilt that they are trying to sell me.

I saw some ad last night in which the lady proclaimed her success at achieving a size 2! No matter what kind of nazi-supervised uber diet or lifestyle changes I ever make will give me a size 2 body, the genetics and basic size of my body will not allow that. But I am being told and sold that this is a achieveable and reasonable goal for a woman. I think that is criminal and it makes me very angry for all the women who will buy into that image.

I applaud all of your hard work and life changes that have lead to your weight loss. As a hedonist and luxury food loving person, will power is the last thing on my list. But I know it's coming for me, my Dr suggested a goal of "not gaining any weight this year" and I am going to work on the changes neccesary to take just that baby step.

 
At 1:48 PM, January 03, 2007, Blogger Slartibartfast said...

Heh. You know there's no way I can avoid this. Kat, you know I want SO badly to totally agree with you on this. But I can't dive in all the way.

There is but one conclusion to draw from all of this:

Weight, fitness, psychology, self-perception, relationships, and our attitude toward food are all one big, tangled mess. All of these things are seperate, independent issues, yet they are also interdependent. To say otherwise would be to deny reality.

I've been caught in the feel-bad/eat/get-bigger/feel-worse/eat-more cycle. Many times it feels like a trap. My attitude toward food has always bordered on sinful. Not gluttony. Not even lust. But idoltry. And it's one thing to know you're forgiven, another to FEEL forgiven.

The answers aren't as cut and dry as "skinny equals healthy" or "fat equals low self-esteem" or the inverse of those two.

And I know that fitness and weight are two different things. But, as I've said before, when I address one, the other seems to fall into place. They are related, just not in a causal way.

Oh, and if anyone checks out the comments over at NIT, remember this: some of us may have really big butts, but Nate IS a really big ass.

 
At 2:02 PM, January 03, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I understand that you have an issue drawing a connection between weight problems and mental illness,

I know that sometimes they are interconnected. I have met many people who have gained weight as a result of either eating out of depression or taking Paxil for depression.

But that doesn't mean that there is a one-to-one correlation.

Prepare yourself for an entire month of "fat" ads of all types.

Oh believe me. I've been anticpating it with great glee.

No matter what kind of nazi-supervised uber diet or lifestyle changes I ever make will give me a size 2 body, the genetics and basic size of my body will not allow that.

You and me both.

Weight, fitness, psychology, self-perception, relationships, and our attitude toward food are all one big, tangled mess. All of these things are seperate, independent issues, yet they are also interdependent. To say otherwise would be to deny reality.

Yes, that is very true. But as a person who is fat because of many reasons OTHER than depression and who is NOT sick because of a weight problem, I am emphatic that people realise that weight may accompany emotional or physical health issues, but is not purely indicative of either one.

 
At 2:02 PM, January 03, 2007, Anonymous sista smiff said...

I really hate the Nutri System commercial that has the success stories where the girl is bragging about going from a size 10 to a 4. They oughta be ashemed to air that.

 
At 2:02 PM, January 03, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was tall and skinny growing up and had bad self-esteem about my body. I always have and probably always will. I'm not as skinny (after 40 years and two kids), but I'm well within my optimal weight. Still, I don't like the body. It's shaped funny. It's not curvy. It's out of proportion.

The point is: Weight is only ONE aspect of the body self-esteem conundrum. I've started running. I'm slow and not very dedicated, but when I run, I feel better. I de-stress and I feel like I'm doing something that improves my health - not so much the body.
The focus on size, curves, etc. is always going to lead us (men and women) down the wrong path. Health is where I focus these days and just try to accept that I'm not going to wake up one day and say, "Wow, I love my body."

It's better that I wake up and say, "I feel good about myself." That means I’m working on exercising the body and mind in healthy ways and feeding both of them healthy things (which is going to preclude reading Nate’s blog ever again).

Connie

 
At 3:01 PM, January 03, 2007, Anonymous nm said...

This may shock you, Katherine, since it's about culture and not TV, but here goes: I agree with you 100%.

I have my wife back now that she's skinny? Puh-leeze. Unless she actually does have a mental disease, some sort of variety of fugue, maybe, that kicks out a different personality when her weight changes, you've been married to the same person all along.

 
At 6:36 PM, January 03, 2007, Blogger dolphin said...

Can't speak to the commercial, because I don't know the context why the man feels he has his wife back, but I don't think newton's comment (at least the excerpt you've presented) is out of line. "Fat" is not a disease, but low-self esteem can certainly change a person and if it's bad enough it can be a diagnosable mental disorder. If you're fat, but happy, then that's great.

Since you compare being short to being fat, let's use it as an example. Let's say when you married your husband he was this fun, out-going, happy person and that was who you fell in love with. Then, for whatever reason, he became very self-conscious about his height. Suddenly he didn't want to be around other people, etc. If he got some kind of "leg-extending" plastic surgery and lost the self-consciousness about his height, might you feel you'd "got your husband back?"

 
At 9:42 PM, January 03, 2007, Blogger Ginger said...

I agree that *fat* is not a disease, but I do believe that the chemical issues that cause depression, as well as thyroid disease may be the cause of certain weight issues. Believe me, I am not saying that is the reason I struggle with my weight (which I have since I hit puberty), because I know when I eat too much. We all know that our society puts way too much emphasis on body size. My 6 year old is already saying she's fat, and she's got the perfect little body. It makes me sick to watch commercials where women claim to be a size 4 or 6 when they supposedly weigh 130. If I weighed 130, I'd be a 10. It all is a marketing ploy to have us buy in to the myth that skinny makes us a "real person". Great post, Kat!

 
At 7:16 PM, January 04, 2007, Blogger Sonia said...

Our society puts so much pressure on being thin. My mil said over the Christmas holiday, that Rachel Ray needs to quit trying everything she eats cause she's chubby. WOW....if that's chubby, call me shamoo! IT's just become embedded in our brains that skinny is better.

 

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