There’s a huge amount in the news, on a semi regular basis, about people being overweight and how people should ‘just lose weight’. I think anyone with that battle knows, it’s not that easy; be you trying to get to a slightly lower weight, be you working to lower your weight into the healthy range or lose a large amount of weight. This post only relates to those people who are trying to lose weight to be healthier and those who are a healthy weight or above. Losing weight and becoming underweight is another article for another day (although some of the challenges are the same).
I can only respect someone who is making those efforts and making changes to their life and losing that weight, knowing how complex and complicated that can be.
As ridiculous as this might sound, there can be benefits to being overweight, and equally, there can be uses to eating larger portion sizes. It feels important to look at some of these because people who are seen as ‘fat’ (and I’m not going to use that word again, because I deteste it) are highly and heavily judged and society seems to think that this is acceptable now. I don’t. I don’t think it’s acceptable to judge someone in this way.
Being overweight is often a symptom of some kind of struggle, same as being underweight, self harm, excessive exercise, alcohol consumption and so many other things too.
Let’s look at some of the challenges around food
~We need it. We can’t not have it. It can’t be cut out completely. You can’t go ‘cold turkey’That makes it an exceptionally hard situation to change and break. The temptation is always there.
~Many celebrations centre around food, or have food as a key part. Some of the best times can be around food, be them Christmasses, Weddings, celebration meals, all sorts.
~It can be, and of is, given as a gift and is therefore a way to communicate love or appreciation.
~People outside of us often try to feed us, and that can be about putting their issues on us, or about communicating, or loving us, or something else, but it makes trying to change our own eating habits even harder. Not only do we have to contend with ourselves, we have to contend with other people too!
There is so much emotion and need tied in around food that it’s not a surprise that so many people struggle with it in today’s society.
So lets look closely at some of the reasons someone might be overweight.
~Ill health or medication. There are some medical conditions (such as PCOS) and some medications (such as antipsychotics) that can lead someone to being more disposed to being overweight.
~Unhealthy habits and routines. As creatures of habit, when trying to break a habit, we all know how hard it can be to change something so entrenched.
There are also emotional reasons attached to eating. These might be;
~Boredom. Food can be a passtime for someone who is lacking the things that they want in their life.
~Filling up. Many people use food to try and fill an emptiness, loneliness or a void inside. Feeling physically full can feel more tolerable than emotional emptiness.
~Stuffing down. Emotions can feel overwhelming and putting food on top of them, to shove them down, can be an effective management strategy (at least initially).
~Feeling love. It can be a way to show love to oneself and to feel cared about. This can also be the case if food was a strong tool of communication when growing up.
~Feeling comfort. Many people know the term ‘comfort eating’ and this is also similar to feeling love and stuffing down, but because of all the emotions associated with love, eating or feeling full can be a comfort.
~An anchor. As human beings we naturally form associations or ‘anchors’ to different memories. With food being a large part of many memories (for good and bad memories), eating things that we associate with those times can take us to those positive memories and bring out those feel good feelings. If this is the only way that someone can connect to those feelings then this can become hugely significant.
Alongside those emotional reasons for eating more, there can also be reasons to be a bigger size.
~A need to be seen. Many people have been overlooked in the past and subconsiously, being bigger means you will be able to be seen more easily. As I mentioned in an earlier post, having attention is a basic human need, for everyone.
~Not wanting to be seen. Conflictingly, people can use their size to avoid being seen, or avoid being seen as something specific, such as attractive. If there is fear around people or relationships, then it can be a subconscious method of keeping people away.
~A method of communication. Being bigger can be a way to communicate to people how you feel about yourself, or who you are, or that you need help, or many different things.
Often, like with reasons for self harming actually, it’s not just one of these at play, but can be a combination of some of them. This list is also not exhaustive because food is such a complex issue, but suffice to say, it’s clear that there are many emotions tied up with eating and weight.
Just think how hard that will be to break and to change something so fundamental and so needed and so driven by emotions. Someone working to change their life, size or weight deserves only respect. It’s an incredibly hard thing to do. It is doable, but a really tough road.
If you are someone who struggles with your weight, maybe have a think about which of these impacts on your eating and/or your weight. That might give you an idea for what you may need to address in order to make your journey easier.
If you are someone who has taken the plunge and is working to change your life, then that is inspirational. Be proud of your courage at taking that risk and changing. Keep going. Seek help and support if you need it (in whatever way that is you need, be it a friend, therapist, weight loss support group, personal trainer or whoever).
If you’re someone who wants to lose weight, but isn’t yet ready, or even who doesn’t want to, maybe just think which of these touches you.
I hope that someone, just one person maybe, reads this and changes their views and perspective on weightloss. It’s not as easy as people think. Like I say, it’s doable (and people do it everyday), but it is a tough road; a road to be respected and admired, with hitches and all.