I have said it before. I will likely say it again. I am fat. Now, there are people who try to say things like:
“You are not fat. You have fat.”
I hate that. It makes me roll my eyes and want to scream. Give me a break. I am not in the mood to argue semantics. Do not undermine my intelligence by trying to put a positive spin on a potentially lethal medical condition. I deserve better than that. You deserve better than that.
Obesity is a medical condition. Morbid Obesity is a serious medical condition. I have that. It does not make me less of a person. It does not mean that I have zero self-worth. This is not some body dysmorphia issue. It is a medical fact. Here is the caveat. I am responsible for treating this disease.
For me, this is not due to something out of my control. I have made poor life-style choices. I ate junk food (I still do sometimes.) I have not been active enough (I am a little better, I need to work harder.) I did not put my physical health and well-being as a priority. Once again, this does not make me a bad person. Stop making excuses for me. I can do that all on my own.
As a morbidly obese nurse practitioner, I find the whole weight loss topic difficult to broach with my patients. I feel like I have no right to tell them what they need to do in order to get healthy. I am actually afraid that they are going to challenge me and ask exactly who I think I am? Well, let me tell you. I am an educated medical professional who has an obligation to try to help you achieve health and wellness. When I avoid this topic, I am not preserving either of our best interests. I am doing you a disservice.
I do not hesitate to admonish a patient for smoking, not taking their blood pressure medications, or not taking care of their diabetes. I lay out the worst case scenarios, and do my best to convince them that “you could die!” I ask questions to find out what the barriers to compliance are, and I try to help them find the tools they need to be healthy. So, why do I avoid the topic of weight loss? Why do I avoid asking them if they need tools to get healthy?
I have an obligation to be open and honest with myself, and my patients. I need to step up and take the time to find out why they struggle with living a healthier lifestyle. I never hesitate to make sure that my elderly patients who are losing weight have enough to eat, and to inquire about who helps the ones with mobility issues get their needs met.
I am not insinuating that I know the best method for everyone to lose weight. I am not insinuating that everyone who is overweight or obese is going to die. I do know without any reservation that there is no such thing as morbid obesity being healthy. Even if you have not developed any obesity related complications, I assure you, you will.
As a medical professional, I want to see my community thrive. I want to improve the health and wellness of my community as a whole. I want to improve my health and wellness.
Starting to workout and eat right is a daunting task. You feel isolated. You feel like you are on display. People do not hesitate to walk up and exclaim “OH MY GOD! How much weight have you lost?” It makes you feel like you are just a number. My self-worth has nothing to do with how many pounds I have lost. I get more satisfaction when I do something active that I could not do before. You are embarrassed when you are wheezing and out of breath after 5 minutes on the treadmill. You are going slower than anyone else. You do not belong.
This is why I think that promoting a community walking program will be beneficial for my town. We can promote activity and healthy lifestyles in a nonthreatening and fun way. We can help people with goal setting, and then help them on their journey to meet it.
So, I want to start a movement movement. I want to encourage and support people on whatever step of their journey they are on. I want everyone to have resources for their questions, and a safe place to voice their concerns.
I want to foster a community of encouragement and I want people to have somewhere to celebrate all their milestones.
I used to tell myself that I needed to lose weight so that I could work out. Does that make a bit a sense? I felt like I did not deserve to be helped. Everyone deserves a little help. Maybe all they need is a safe place, reasonable goals, and a few friends.