Earlier this week I was caught in the social media cross hairs a bit after a tweet I sent rubbed some folks the wrong way. As a person who has struggled with weight for most of his life, I wanted to make a statement that was a bold conveyance of what I’ve been exposed to in my quest to be healthy. Fat shaming.
This particular tweet was met with resistance from so called “fat acceptance advocates” who recoiled in disgust that fat people couldn’t be considered attractive. But, especially in my experiences, the above is true. But no one wants to talk about it. So let’s talk about it.
Obesity stats are staggering in the United States. Nearly 66% of adults in the United States are overweight. That’s an increase of nearly 40% over the last 50 years. 70 million people (roughly 50/50 men/women) are obese, that’s about 20% of our population. 57 million adults are diagnosed as pre-diabetic, with 23 million now diabetic, and these numbers are predicted to go up as the health crisis of obesity affects more people. Life expectancy has gone down in large part to this epidemic. So what’s caused it?
With access to cheap, unhealthy food, and the severe lack of exercise and activity in children and adults in the United States, the problem only increases as we become more technologically savvy. These days, not only is the access to food easier, but you can now have it delivered. Cooking as a skill has vanished, and most folks eat out as in the early part of 2016, the food service industry reported nearly $750 billion in revenue.
Unhealthy foods are cheaper and access is easier than at any other time in history. This is fueling the fattening up of America, and my own experiences have helped to shape my views of this epidemic.
The Fat Pilled Dad
I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life.
When I started 6th grade, I was a whopping 220 lbs, but only 5’10”. I was bullied and harassed constantly as I also had ample man boobs. I was made fun of most every day, victimized simply because I was fat. I had the trifecta (fat, glasses, man boobs), so I wasn’t spared the punishments of bullies. This harassment then doubled in on itself, causing me to stress eat. It was a vicious cycle that many young Americans are going through now. I did, however, see a change as I started to get involved in sports and other activities in high school.
My sophomore year in high school, I shot up to 6″4, thereby making my fat disappear as it had more height to cover. I started to lean out as I continued to be involved in activities. This period in my life was my a good fitness time, where between high school and college, I was exercising pretty regularly. I played soccer, basketball, and racquetball, and was involved in marching band most of my high school career. I really started to see the benefits of exercise in this time, but my memory was short lived.
As I graduated high school and then college, I still had periods where I would be inactive and gain weight back. I would go between my target weight of 250 and back up to 280. I tried diets, and would again and again realize that my activity would seem to determine my weight loss. My senior year of college, I would leave class and do drive thru food everyday, sometimes eating 15-20 bucks worth of food. I didn’t go to the gym, and my inactivity was out kicking my caloric coverage. This yo-yo diet continued until my marriage in 2005.
After my marriage, the blue pilled beta took over and I ballooned to over 300 lbs. I would take down a large plate of nachos with ease, order 20-25 bucks worth of fast food, and continued my bad habits. My ex-wife didn’t like to cook, and although she was a dietitian, we would eat out at a record pace. My ex and I would have periods where we would get back into shape, doing Beachbody and getting back to the gym, but my diet would always hurt my progress. I flirted with 300 on several occasions after getting down to 270. Stress eating was the story of my life, with my sugar intake going crazy every time I was at work.
Then came my wake up call…
The Mortality Epiphany
I got the news one day at work.
A good friend of mine, a 40 year old divorced father of three, had suffered a massive heart attack, and died. Andy was a great guy, and this three kids lost an amazing person. He had just been through a terrible divorce after his wife cheated on him, and was engaged to another woman who we really didn’t support as his next wife. It connects that most men who are blue pilled suffer from obesity issues. But he was just trying to live his life and move on, start over. And just like that, he was gone.
I was in the middle of a separation with my wife, and at 39 years old, and as a father of two, I was shaken. This was a man who’d eaten about the same way I had, had also been a high school football star, and was very close to me in his life habits and experiences. This type of thing could happen to me. And where would my kids be? Where would this leave them?
This was officially the low point of my life. I tipped the scales at 305 lbs. and was in the midst of severe depression. My kids, upon hearing the news of my friend’s death, told me they were worried about me. They didn’t want their dad to end up in the same way. Nothing shocks a system more than listening your kids tell you that they’re worried about your health.
“Dad, we love you and we don’t want you to die.”
The Long Fight Back
So, I had to do something. Along with my kid’s concerns, my ex-wife’s insults of my weight, and even women I was trying to date commenting that “they don’t date or sleep with fat guys,” I knew what I had to do.
I’ve often extolled the benefits of therapy in my blog, and once again, I was helped in yet another way by it. One day, not long after my children expressed their concerns, my psychologist told me straight up, “You’re fat. you’ve been fat most of your life. Why don’t you change that?” I was speechless. I was being fat shamed by my doctor…
“The nerve”, I thought. But what could I do? He was correct. I needed to get this done and never look back. So on the eve on my 42nd birthday, at a bit over 295 lbs, I finally committed to my new life. I renewed my gym membership. I started walking during work. I turned down the donuts. I started cooking more. My meal preps would be legendary. More water was consumed. I started intermittent fasting. The weight started to come off. My clothes were fitting looser. I watched my pants size drop from 42 to 38. In a matter of 6 months, I dropped close to 30 lbs, and went from 40% body fat to 29.9%.
It was happening, finally. I was doing it.
My gym commitment jumped from cardio two times a week to 4-5 days a week strength training. My meal prep included less carbs, and more veggies and protein. I was learning. I was reading. I was doing it.
Today, I’m down to 265 lbs. I’ve lost 40 lbs, and 5 inches off my waist. I still have work to do, but I’m feeling the best I’ve ever felt. I’m in better shape than men 10 years younger than me.
I do a ton of body weight exercises, as well as squats and dead lifts. Strength training, meal prep, and intermittent fasting have been my go to’s. My goal is 250lbs and 15 – 18% body fat. And also the ability to be active with my kids, as well as inspire them to stay healthy. My poor relationship with food has been replaced by my kids and I cooking healthy meals together. They will respect the food they put in their body, as well as the importance of being active.
So back to the crux of this blog post. Fat shaming worked for me. It took everyone telling me they were concerned about my health, and several women I was interested in telling me straight up that they weren’t attracted to fat guys to get me to take action. The shaming felt bad enough to get me to make a change, finally, especially when I had a decent support system to do this.
I will say this. Every person out there who’s had a problem with weight their whole lives needs to see a therapist. Being fat is not only a physical problem, but it’s primarily a psychological one. Low self esteem fuels the collapse into terrible eating habits and lack of activity. So getting in to see a good shrink is paramount to starting your weight loss journey. I would also recommend a personal trainer who pushes you. People need to get out of their comfort zones, and with fat shaming, it really pushes people to take control and make progress. So yes, I’m saying that fat shaming is a good thing.
The Fat Acceptance Phenomenon
Just like those who avoid asking a girl out due to their overwhelming fear of rejection, fat people have accepted that they’re fat while fearing the work and pain it takes to get themselves back into shape.
So, the relatively new Fat Acceptance movement has come about. A fear has promoted a movement, and it’s growing day by day. It’s also a symptom of the JBY (Just Be Yourself) movement, stifling other options for being a better person and getting active and fit. Now, just like feminism, it promotes an atmosphere of fat people as a minority status, even giving them protected minority status with the likes of LGBT movement.
Fat people should not be treated as a protected class. They aren’t. Fat acceptance is treating an obvious mental and physical health disorder as something that should be celebrated. Ill health should not be celebrated. It should be treated. So yes, I’m with the women who fat shamed me. It’s not attractive to be fat. It’s not sexy to be fat. Fatness is a turn off. And most importantly, it’s unhealthy. It’s not like being gay, lesbian, trans or a minority. It’s not a class of people. It’s a poor state of body and mind.
The newest reach of the fat acceptance genre is the “dad bod”. We’re told by countless magazines that the dad bod is in. It’s not. It’s still unhealthy, and in general experience, women want a six pack ab set over a dicky-doo any day.
So, America, you need to be fat shamed. I’m taking action to correct my lifelong issues with weight. I’m still working on it, but I know I’m going to get there. So start seeing your mental health professionals, set up a meeting with a personal trainer, and start eating like your life depends on it.
Because it does.