By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
February 28, 2016
Well, truth be told, I was kind of surprised we haven’t had a fat shaming incident over the last few months. Sure, this is most likely due to the fact this is political season, so a lot of news outlets are just waiting for the next piece of sludge to slip out of Donald Trumps’s mouth (seriously, who is voting for this wack-job!). For a while there, we kept running into a lot of moments where weight was a huge issue, from the likes of Amy Schumer and Meghan Trainor to the likes of the short lived Dad Bod revolution (which was really just a silly essay from some woman looking for attention, and boy did the meatheads give it to her!). Now, I used to get into some heated conversations about this sort of stuff with online trolls, but the problem that always erupted was the fact they never took my argument seriously. I always live under the guide that it is okay to love your lumpy, overweight body. You just have to remember that no matter what you believe or what you think due to your positive health signals, you are setting yourself up for some serious problems down the line. Personally, I would rather address the issue while I am still young and can handle a heavy workout regimen, which has led to some interesting results for me (more on that later). But of course, the new flare-up is over the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue (that’s still a thing?). Yes, before the internet came along, young men such as myself would get their thrills looking at the lovely ladies sporting the pages of Sports Illustrated. Of course, the magazine kind of got one-uped in recent years with ESPN Magazine’s annual body issue, which his just as risqué only with athletes. There used to be a time when being on the Sports Illustrated cover was quite amazing for any model, and just like clockwork, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander seemed to be dating said model. Okay, joking on that last part, but seriously, that guy gets around! In case you haven’t heard, Sports Illustrated decided to go with a plus sized model in Ashley Graham, making her the first woman over a size six to even grace the covers. Of course, Sports Illustrated lauded this as a female empowerment sort of issue, featuring Ronda Rousey as well, but of course some criticism has to be made. Paging Cheryl Tiegs!!
Now Tiegs has had her fair share of magazine covers, but seemed to disagree with the idea of having a size 16 model who is obviously overweight on the cover. While many were lauding this as some sort of body acceptance victory, she sort of pointed out the truth that being as overweight as Graham is is not exactly healthy, even if the rolls are few and far between. While there is no doubt Graham is a good looking woman, I have pointed out plenty of evidence and research that indicates that “healthy obesity,” which Graham most certainly is, may be okay in the short run but can be debilitating in the long. I even use myself in this argument, for even when I was pushing 350 pounds, all my primary vital signs were in safe zones, even if they were n the high end. This just goes to tell you that my youth was kind compensating for the bad health. Anyway, the whole Tiegs-Graham thing has been a sight to see on the internet, with people bashing Tiegs endlessly and using all sorts of excuses about young girls and what not. Of course, I didn't get involved this time around because I needed to put out applications and scour for jobs, not get into random fights about health with angry, derisive people that have nothing better to do than get angry on the internet all day. Plus I have learned my lesson from the past, for I too get fat shamed even when I am winning the argument. The course of a loser and a person with a poor argument is to usually going to use that direction. And I think that is one reason why I rarely comment on obesity anymore, because I have been having such a conniption with my own body lately. I’m extremely frustrated in the fat that is lining my stomach. I’ve thought about some rather extreme calorie cuts and even more extreme workout regimens, but I start to wonder if that is really all that good for me. Right now, I’m a bit confused with what to do, for I know the goal is so close but I feel my frustration is leading to some negative thoughts that might be stressing me out and causing me to gain weight. I mean, my 1X shirts feel a little snug these days!
While I am technically overweight as opposed obese these days, the setbacks that I used to have seem to never go away in my mind. I still want to eat copious amounts of food, but I just can’t allow myself to do so. No worries, I have been compensating these impulse controls with a lot of laziness in the gym and the track. While my last couple workouts were quite solid, they did knock me for a loop and I my legs have been so sore, running has been impossible. Anyway, I have to keep reminding myself the weight will eventually come off when I just learn to lighten up or something, or when I finally find some reason to stay on a specific plan. I think quitting my current job would certainly help, for the soreness and pain I feel from that place on a regular basis is making stress eat, merely because it is not quite as bad as taking some ibuprofen or something. But excuses aside, I just really need to try and tackle this problem without affecting my workout performance too much. Is that too much to ask?
No all this talk about fat shaming and what is true obesity always erupts into the same arguments….if you feel cool about it, why should you care? I mean, if being massively overweight has been such an accepted norm, why are we even worried what a washed up centerfold thinks in the first place. I always believe this problem is mainly due to the crowd that always has to utilize “the young girls” argument, once again thinking middle and high school aged women are so fragile, that they have to be perfectly insulated from the rest of the world! But of course, I never really follow the lives of high school girls lest I want go to prison, and therefore have no frame of reference. So I always answer with facts, logic and studies. There is never a dull moment in this world of ours when it comes to the obesity debate, and some new studies have indicated some new side effects to the problem. The first study comes from across the pond at good ol’ Cambridge University. http://microcapmagazine.com/2016-02-27-obesity-may-lead-to-poor-mental-health-and-lack-mindedness-studies-proved
The research that was done in this particular study was trying to correlate obesity with memory, and some interesting theories are being utilized. Apparently, the effects of obesity may cause some issues with your frontal lobe and hippocampus. Why is this important? Well, the researchers concluded that impulse control would certainly be at a loss when dealing with obesity. They pontificate that someone might lose their ability to remember how much they have eaten. While this seem a little far fetched, the impulse control regulation from the frontal lobe is certainly a reality. with multiple studies indicating the addictiveness of dairy and sugar (which is in just about everything!), our inability to control our urges can be a major issue when trying to control your intake. Now I of course am the poster child of this problem, for I was such an addict to sugar and dairy that I wouldn’t stop eating until I was ready to burst. Typically, I would outrace my brain and eat so much that my body would never have a real chance to feel full. My father recognized this in me, my friends and maybe even the random people at the various fast food joints I would frequent all those years ago when they noticed my orders kept getting larger and more substantial (though I’m sure they were happy to have me as a customer….staying in business). Another part of the study that was talked about was in regards to to recall. People with higher Body Mass Index numbers performed much poorer than those that had lower index numbers. The conclusion may be linked to the idea of an obese body needing more food, and that hunger might lead someone to make a poorer decision in their food choices. I was pretty typical of this as well, for I often times had a cloudy head on longer work days, when the early morning breakfast free for all was starting to wear off and I had gone more than six hours without eating. I think this was when I was more prone to getting shocked on the job than any other time.
Anyway, there are some interesting points in that study, and even if you don’t want to believe them, I can still throw the “think about the children” argument that always keeps being tossed around like a football. Some new studies have now been released that also indicate children that have less healthy food in their lives are more prone to hang conduct problems and emotional problems. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/02/26/teen-mental-health-risk-increases-with-food-insecurity.html Now this study didn’t have much to say about obesity, but it did indicate the kind of stress that would fall on a younger person when they may not know where their next meal may come. I could go into all the specifics, but one thing is for certain, this type of problem could lead to obesity. While I only have personal experience and from what I have heard from others, not having the amount and variety of food at your disposal could lead to some feelings of want and desire as you get older. I look at myself in respect to this outlook quite often, for I never really engaged in fast food while I was growing up. Plus, there were many instances when I was growing up where I couldn’t get all the food I desired simply because my mother didn’t make enough. So this set a psychological stamp on my head as I got older….that I would never be wanting ever again. Now of course, I was not a bad kid or anything this might be something that could occur later on for some people. When you have nothing in your life, and suddenly you have the means to do so, some people might take this a little too far.
Of course, I will always use the health argument when it comes to obesity problem here in America. Since I am still a bit overweight myself, I really have no right to be telling someone of or calling them a “fatty.” But I do know from personal experience that what we do to our bodies is something that could be irreversible, n matter how perceptually healthy we may be at the moment. But that is rarely where the obesity debates go, because it always has to be about a person’s self worth as opposed to a person’s health. But until we can cross that bridge and stop blurring the two notions, maybe we can actually change the debate once and for all!
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.