i finally remembered one of the blog topics that ive been meaning to write about for a while but kept forgetting about every time i sat down at the computer. the topic: obesity. disclaimer: i realise that weight loss or gain in general and obesity in particular can be very sensitive topics for some people and although i am going to try my best to make this post nonjudgmental, i am sure there are some people who could potentially find this post offensive. it is not my intention to offend anybody, so read at your own risk.
over the last i dont know, year i guess, i have developed a growing fascination with obesity. i cant really explain it. maybe its because i have an obese person in my life who i see on a regular basis who is a candidate for the stomach band thingy. i dont know, but i am increasingly preoccupied with this phenomenon.
first of all, i think that most people, women who have children especially, go through ups and downs with their body weight. this is natural and to be expected. we all go through a variety of things in life that can affect our levels of activity and metabolism and diet. to me though, this fluctuation is healthy until it exceeds twenty or thirty pounds (i would also point out that this same reasoning applies to people LOSING too much weight, so im not really singling anyone out yet). what i find so provocative about obesity is twofold.
first of all, my interest is a biological one. let us assume that a person who is not obese drastically changes their diet so that they are taking in far more calories than they are burning. let us also assume that there isnt some sort of medical problem with their metabolism or something. to make this example very simple, lets say that the person starts eating fried chicken and french fries three times a day and is not exercising beyond what they were doing before this dietary change. obviously, the person would put on weight very quickly. the thing is though, that eventually they would put on enough weight (lets say, forty pounds) that the three meals a day of chicken and fries would be equal to the number of calories they are burning, because as you increase the fatty tissue in the body, you are also increasing the vascular tissue and the connective tissue between the cells and keeping all of that tissue alive requires more calories than the person needed before the dietary change. so the person has reached equilibrium again. (this is why, in weight watchers, heavier people are actually given more "points" than lighter people, because their basal metabolic rate is actually higher. they need more calories than lighter people simply by virtue of the fact that there is more body in need of calories). therefore, for the person to put on even MORE weight, they will have to eat even MORE. and again, this caloric imbalance will eventually equilibrate. and on and on and on it goes until the person reaches three hundred, four hundred, five hundred pounds. its mind boggling. eating must be this persons' full time job. where do they get the time? or the money? this is especially interesting to me, because since i do endurance sports, i have to eat ALOT. there was even a particularly depressing period of my life where i was having difficulty keeping weight ON, and all i thought about all the time was food. where was going to get it, how was i going to get it, and when was i going to eat it. as someone who eats a lot and maintains a healthy body weight, i just cant imagine eating more. now i realise that obese people are not eating healthy, many of them eat empty calories, lots of sugar, white carbs devoid of nutrients, etc, but i still think at some point, it MUST come down to sheer volume. how do they do it?
ok second point relates to body image and denial, i think. i just dont know how someone can keep putting on and putting on weight and not having any desire to change. i dont understand how you make that psychological shift. for example: last fall, i noticed my pants were getting a little tight. i did NOT go out and buy bigger pants. i stopped drinking beer every night of the week and got back into swimming, which i had been out of for two years. taking the weight off was the most natural reaction to putting it on in my mind. i dont understand how someone can just go out and buy bigger and bigger and bigger pants. do they just give up? are they totally in denial about it? inquiring minds want to know.
i dont mean for this post to sound judgmental. i really dont. i am just so interested by this. i wish i could get into the heads of these people, but thats part of the problem, its such a sensitive topic, that its improper to discuss it. so i am left to wonder as i wander and in my wandering, i get to eat whatever i want.