I wrote this post to help you better understand obesity as well to share my lifelong struggles with weight, self-acceptance & how I learned to embrace my body in a positive way
I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk, Inc. to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.
During these challenging times of the COVID-19 global pandemic, I have struggled with what kind of content I want to publish that is meaningful, relevant, helpful and socially sensitive. So I was delighted when Med-IQ, an accredited medical education company that provides top notch educational resources for healthcare professionals, reached out to me and asked if I would like to be part of their obesity awareness campaign. As many of you know, I am truly passionate about raising awareness about health topics that can impact women’s lives in a positive way, and my hope in writing this post is to candidly share my own struggles with weight, self-esteem and how I learned how to create a positive body image as well as to help you better understand the disease of obesity and resources that can help.
For the majority of my life, I have struggled with being overweight. Ever since I was a young teen, I always remember having a bit of a tummy, fuller thighs and big butt. When I was younger, my mother was also severely overweight herself and she vacillated from being very skinny to very large and she was even a Weight Watchers leader. So as you can imagine, being hyper-focused on healthy eating and weight loss was definitely a significant theme of my childhood.
However, here’s the plot twist, even though my weight has been an issue most of my life and I have frequently felt big/always wanted to lose weight, I always had a positive self-perception, a deep love of myself and I always felt extremely comfortable in my own body thanks to the positive and accepting attitude of my fabulous mother. You see before body positivity was a social media trend, my forward-thinking mother emulated this incredible self-love and unconditional body acceptance before it was cool to do so.
Throughout my life, I have definitely struggled with loving my curvy body, embracing the number on the scale, letting go of the significance of clothing size as well as coming to terms with my predisposition to gain weight. However, when I finally entered midlife at age 40ish, I began to FULLY appreciate and accept myself and my body, excess weight and all. My midlife awakening also came around the same time that I started this blog and I have definitely made body positivity a message/mantra that I continue to emphasize on all of my digital platforms. It is my mission to help midlife women embrace and celebrate who they are no matter what age, how many wrinkles or what size they are.
While I love that the body positivity/fat acceptance movement is having a moment right now, I don’t want women to lose sight of the the fact that in the United States, it is estimated that 93 million Americans are affected by obesity. Obesity is a disease that is associated with having an excess amount of body fat that can harm your health. Obesity is caused by genetic and environmental factors that can be difficult to control through dieting alone and unfortunately a lot of misconceptions continue to exist about this disease.
I think it’s important for us to re-frame the blaming mentality and let people know that obesity is not their ‘fault’, that it is not just about the food and that it is not cured by a miracle treatment. It’s not really sensitive or appropriate to label people based on their health conditions and I think that we need to start making an effort to stop referring to people as ‘being obese’ which makes it seem like someone causes this to happen to themselves. Instead, I want to encourage all of us to use People First Language and more accurately describe it as someone ‘having obesity’ the same way that people HAVE diabetes or autism (rather than being “a diabetic” or “an autistic” person.) This is a subtle, but important shift in how we perceive obesity.
I also feel that this discussion about obesity is very timely right now because we are in the midst of a serious global pandemic and maintaining overall health and wellness is at the top of everyone’s minds at the moment. Given this crisis, a lot of us are likely to be experiencing increased levels of stress and turning towards more sugary high fat foods to provide comfort but unfortunately these less healthy choices can also lead to weight gain. With all of this in mind, It is important to remember that when we are affected but another disease like obesity, we are potentially at higher risk for experiencing more severe symptoms of COVID-19.
So during this time, those of us that are overweight or have obesity should be more diligent about making healthy food choices, finding creative ways to stay active (I’ve started doing online yoga!) and taking the time to nurture and take care of yourself with at home spa treatments or meditation. The overall point that I am trying to make is to remind you not to neglect your overall health during this crisis and that little steps can make a big difference.
In summary, I hope this post raised your awareness about obesity and that it helps make you more sensitive to seeing obesity as a disease rather than self-inflicted behavior. I also hope that hearing about my journey towards self-acceptance and body positivity inspires you to take steps towards loving your beautiful body flaws and all.
One last thing that I would love your help with, Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with obesity and your care team, which will help us develop future educational initiatives. Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize and to send a follow-up survey as part of this same initiative. Take the survey HERE
For additional up-to-date and accurate information about obesity, I encourage you to visit the Obesity Action website HERE.
Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.