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During my blogging hiatus I missed two big milestones for me: a) it has officially been two years since I started my weight loss journey (started in May 2011 at 300lbs), and b) it has been one year since I started CrossFit in May 2012 (or February 2012 if you count the two months of bootcamp).

I want to compare where I am to where I started two years ago, but honestly it’s almost impossible because my baseline for everything was pretty much 0. The number of push-ups I have done in my life before May 2011? 0. That’s not a typo – I had never been able to lift my body off the ground in a plank position, ever. My 1 mile time before May 2011? Never ran it start to finish without walking. The number of pull-ups that I had ever completed? 0. You get the idea. How am I supposed to compare where I am now to where I was if I can’t even to a simple percentage, because I can’t divide by 0?

Doing a pull up at Reebok CrossFit

Doing a pull up at Reebok CrossFit

Needless to say, I am a completely different person than who I was two years ago. And even if I can’t necessarily measure my progress with concrete improvements and percentages, I don’t really need to – the differences are pretty evident.

But, one year after CrossFit is a different story.

When I started bootcamp, I had already lost 50 pounds. I ran my first mile (over 3 miles actually) shortly after starting CrossFit. I did my first push ups, and later my first unassisted pull ups, while in a CrossFit class. So, I might talk about it a lot (maybe too much), but obviously it holds a special place in my fitness journey.

My first CrossFit competition this past Winter

My first CrossFit competition this past Winter

So, just some big changes that I’ve seen over the last year and a few months of CrossFit:

  • When I started bootcamp and we jumped over a PVC pipe, I had to jump, stop, catch my balance, and then jump. Now when we jump over our barbells I can do them all unbroken and more fluidly
  • I constantly finished in last in the class. Now I’ll still finish in last at times, but I’ll also finish in first in the class at times, and usually pretty consistently I’m somewhere in the middle
  • I took 2 minutes off my 5K row
  • I’ve taken minutes off of my 5K run
  • I’ve improved on every benchmark workout we’ve done
  • I have increased my strength dramatically – increasing my back squat by 40 pounds, increasing my clean by 40 pounds, and my snatch by 25 pounds
  • I have learned how to successfully do double unders, and now can string at least 50 together pretty consistently
  • I have climbed a 15 foot rope (I hate heights, so I still don’t do these during WODs, but I can do it if I have time and don’t feel rushed)
400m runs with a #45 bag for the "31 Heroes" WOD a few weeks ago

400m runs with a #45 bag for the “31 Heroes” WOD a few weeks ago

So, yes. I might talk about it a lot. And there are lots of other fitness solutions – and CrossFit isn’t the only answer for fitness. But it is the answer for me at this point in my life. And I am very proud of the work I’ve been able to do there, and the gains I’ve made. Could I have made this progress elsewhere? Maybe. But the community and support I get from the other people who go and the trainers are unmatched in anything I’ve ever experienced. And I really attribute their support and guidance for a lot of my progress.

The class I did the "31 Heroes" WOD with

The class I did the “31 Heroes” WOD with

So, happy belated CrossFit-iversary to me! I can’t wait to see what another year there will do!

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Sorry for the delay in posts. We got a lot of great feedback from our recent series on “The Stigma of Obesity.” This is a guest post from Meg’s sister (and therefore my sister-in-law) Katie in response to the series (based on this article by Mark Sisson). Here are links to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V. For the record – she sent this to me after Part II of the series, but I’ve just been holding on to it because I was going to post it after the series, and then we pretty much didn’t update our blog at all last week due to lots of stuff going on. So, anyway – sorry it’s late!

And thanks for sharing Katie!

Katie and Meg before taking on the half marathon last fall.

Katie and Meg before taking on the half marathon last fall.

I probably know more about health, nutrition and weight loss than you do. Want to burn one pound a week? Then you need a 3,500 calorie deficit. Parsley is a great way to detoxify in your green juice that you make. Interval training burns more calories. You need strength training to build muscles and that will burn more fat. You need to deal with your emotional problems behind why you eat the wrong foods. I know where to buy local grass-fed beef and have bought a quarter cow with my boyfriend and his family. Good fats are not bad. Oh and I’ve tried butter in my coffee.

I’ve done work out videos, classes, kettlebells, yoga and I ran a half marathon. I am a member of a gym and go at least three times a week.

Would you be surprised to learn that I am extremely overweight? I am too. But I am.

Katie and her boyfriend, Ryan

Katie and her boyfriend, Ryan

People see me and automatically assume they know me. They assume what I eat or what I do in my spare time. I’ve gotten used to nurses looking startled when my blood pressure is so good, used to them ignoring my inquisitions into why I’m not losing weight and instead telling me to cut out carbs or change my work out routine interrupting me mid sentence as I plea my case. I’ve gotten used to people looking at me like I’m a pathological liar when I tell them I ran a half marathon.

But here I am, relatively healthy as an ox except for my weight. I did have a problem with a stomach ulcer this year but that was due to a dairy and yeast allergy that I didn’t find out about until after a colonoscopy, endoscopy, several doctors visits and finally a visit with a Naturopathic Doctor.

I don’t have a choice if I want what I want out of life to keep plugging away and researching and putting in the time and effort in the gym and watching what I put in my body. So I’m still moving forward and focusing on what I can do instead of giving up.

But regardless of that it would be wonderful to have people look at me as a person instead of the extra jiggle around my stomach. Obese people have almost become the lepers of society. I was told by someone very close to me when I was in college that if I lost weight I’d have an easier time getting a job and when I got a job that said person credited it in part to a big chunk of weight that I had lost at the time not mentioning my actual talent as a photographer or hard work ethic. It made me feel like who I was as a person was not enough and has made it hard for me to believe I am enough. And that is only one of the many derogatory comments that have been made to me from a wide variety of people. People seem to think it’s okay to yell out “Fat A**” out their window at you, it’s not.

And society fuels that. We are inundated with diets, nutritional information, magazines headlines, models and tv shows constantly berating us for our weight. Although there are people out there who believe it’s okay to be overweight I truly believe most of us who are overweight know that it isn’t and don’t want to be but don’t want to admit that to people because they are afraid to fail. But we are aware that everyone is trying to change us at all times helping to perpetuate a cycle that tells us we just aren’t up to par in the game of life.

But what is the solution? Should obesity be overlooked? Absolutely not. But it should be handled with support, encouragement and very very gentle words of direction. It should also be followed by affirmation that who you are as a person is enough.

And not how people reacted to this: http://shine.yahoo.com/love-sex/im-overweight-boyfriends-not-big-freaking-deal-134800157.html.

You might have read about this girl, Gloria, who wrote an article about her boyfriend being skinny and she is overweight. People on social media blew up at her and said some horrible things about her and their relationship. It’s as if society wants the fat people just to stay together and that overweight people are not recognized as equals but as instead a lesser than human.

So the point of my rant – you might be shaking your head in agreement while reading this but preconceived ideas of overweight people have probably been creeping in your head without you even knowing. I have done it myself and I am overweight. I’ll see a larger person eating a second cupcake and in my mind give myself a pat on the back that I haven’t had a cupcake for a month (although I did have one last night hehe). It might be a glance at an overweight person who is bigger than me and telling myself at least I am not that large. It might be being frustrated because I have to sit next to a larger person and I have less room in mine and feel crowded.

It is so easy to judge a book by its cover especially when it comes to obesity but if our obesity crisis is ever going to end society needs to stop making obesity attached to a stigma that only makes sinking into the heavy weight hole deeper easier and focus on the person and reinforcing that they are worth the happiness they seek in health.

Katie after a "Color Me Rad" race

Katie after a “Color Me Rad” race

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This is the fifth and final part of my five-part series on “The Stigma of Obesity.” It is based on this article by Mark Sisson. Here are the links to Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

I’ve talked a lot about other people’s biases, and the prejudices and stereotypes by which others judge obese people. What I haven’t talked about is the way that I view obesity.

And it’s not pretty.

You would think, after all of my hand-wringing and clutching of pearls that I would avoid being part of the problem. You would think that after my lamenting of how I was the victim of these prejudices and stereotypes that I would avoid contributing to them at all costs. You would think these things – but the truth is that I am as guilty as the next person.

When I see an obese person that I don’t know, often times I hold the same preconceived notions. I think “He/she should get off the couch every once in a while” Or “Maybe he/she should put down the ho-ho’s and go for a run.” Or “He/she contributes to why medical insurance is increasing at such high rates in this country.” The stigma still exists even within myself.

Now, often times I recognize this and try to consciously change my perception. I remind myself that only two years ago I was that person. I remind myself that maybe the journey hasn’t started for them yet. Or, maybe the journey has started and they’ve already made significant progress. I don’t know what they are struggling with, I don’t know their story, and I certainly do not hold the right to judge a stranger because of their weight.

But that doesn’t change the fact that my knee-jerk reaction, more often than not, is to judge him or her.

If I’m truly honest with myself that is one of the reasons this series was hard to write, and it is one of the reasons I needed to write it. As I read the original article by Mark Sisson I first felt sorry for myself. But as I reflected on it, I realized that I have become part of the problem. And that is why over the last two months I have not been able to stop thinking about it. I’ve been dwelling on it ever since I read the article, and have struggled with my own role in this conversation.

It is easy to see fault in others. It is much harder to identify it in ourselves. My dad once told me that the thing you hate most about other people is most often the thing you secretly hate most about yourself.

I believe the best thing I could have done was to write about it. Now it is out in the open. I understand the stigma better, both through the lens of other people and through my own eyes. It will be another step in my own recovery, and my own healing.

But the best unintended consequence of all of this is I found I am not alone.

Through the comments I received, both on this blog and on my Facebook posts linking to the blog, I found that this is an issue that many other people face. Friends and family who have also lost weight shared with me about how they also struggle with judging others. And not only did I find I wasn’t alone, but I was able to identify why it was that I felt this strongly about it.

My mom pointed out that this behavior is learned. Just because I was obese doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn the same stereotypes as my friends. If anything, I had front row seats! I was probably just as biased and held the same prejudices when I was obese, it just wasn’t as safe then for me to feel or express them as it is now.

Furthermore, a friend pointed out that his own self-sacrifice had fueled his criticism. He said “here I am restricting how much and what I eat and then here is this person eating whatever they want without a care in the world.” I found this very much was true with me too. I am going to the gym X amount of times per week. I am restricting all sugar from my diet except for one meal per week. I am saying no to the birthday cake at work, or the muffin with breakfast, or even the dressing on my salad. I am getting up at 4am to go to the gym, and going back to the gym immediately after work. Why should this person get to do whatever the heck they want when I have to go to such great lengths to control my own weight???

As my friend pointed out – he was jealous. And so am I. And that is an ugly reason to judge others. But now that I know that, hopefully I can start to change my own perceptions, and hopefully I can become an advocate to others instead of tearing them down.

I hope everyone has enjoyed reading this series as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I hope it has challenged you as much as it has challenged me. I (as always) welcome any and all comments and feedback you have on it. I already have one guest post that a family member wrote in response to the series, and I hope that this conversation can continue. The more we talk about it, the closer we get to removing this stigma. And I think that is the best possible resolution we can have.

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This is the fourth part of a five-part series on “The Stigma of Obesity”, based on this article by Mark Sisson. Here are links to Part I, Part II, and Part III.

This part is focusing on the notion that stigmas may still exist even after people lose weight. Mark Sisson links to this abstract of a study that found that even after people lost weight, there was a higher degree of bias against them then against those who had not lost weight. Basically, these people were still susceptible to the same prejudices, stereotypes, and judging even after they lost weight!

This is an odd concept to me – and one I hadn’t given serious thought to until I read this article. Why would a bias still exist even after the obesity is no longer an issue? I honestly have no idea if this has been the case for me or not. Have I been the victim of this and not known?

I don’t want to jump to conclusions. As we all know – you can’t believe everything you read, but the more I think about it, the more I think there might be two large causes for this: 1. When people who knew you have the stereotypes already ingrained in their perception; and 2. when you embody the stereotypes yourself.

Perceptions Are Hard to Change

I couldn’t figure out how to download the whole study from that abstract (if you know how – let me know!), but it seemed like the participants did not necessarily know the people before their weight loss. So this is purely conjecture on how this might apply in everyday life. But, if you knew someone who was obese, and you had these perceptions already – either consciously or subconsciously, then it stands to reason that those perceptions may not necessarily change with the weight loss.

For example – if you knew me before my weight loss, and you subconsciously associated me with lazy or careless because of it, then just because I lost weight doesn’t necessarily mean that subconsciously you don’t still view me as lazy. If it was a conscious bias, then that would be easier to adjust. But if it was subconscious, which I suspect most of the biases that we’ve been talking about over the last several posts are, then those are much harder to change because you can’t openly follow the logical conclusion that they should change with the weight loss.

Again – I don’t know if this is a valid reason or not – but it certainly seems like a possibility.

Embodying the Bias

This one feels like it’s more plausible (not that they both can’t be right). I wrote before about how being fat wasn’t just an adjective for me, but it truly became part of my personality – part of who I was. And it still is part of who I am back in my mind. It’s been over 2 years since I started my weight loss, and almost a full year since I hit the 100 pound mark. And I STILL in the back of my mind view myself as obese. I still resist making fat jokes about myself when in social situations, for example: I had pie Saturday night and I went for a second serving and I almost make the joke – “don’t get between a fat guy and pie” – until I realized that it wouldn’t be funny, because it didn’t really apply.

Furthermore, I wrote before about how I tended to champion these attributes. It’s easier to make fun of myself and to laugh with others, than to have other people make the joke and laugh at me. So I would be the first one to crack a joke. I would purposely act goofy or exaggerate the traits people associate with obesity (like jolly or food-crazy).

Therefore, if these stereotypes become ingrained in our personality, it would make sense that we continue to perpetuate the same biases that we are trying to shed. If I continue to portray myself as being aloof and goofy, then it is no wonder other people would still hold the same biases, even after the weight has been lost.

In other words: losing the weight is not enough, we also have to lose the defense mechanisms we have learned.

I struggled while writing this post. I keep ending my posts with the common refrain that I don’t have a lot of answers, just more questions, but this holds true on this particular post more than any other. It is a deflating idea that even after all of the hard work of weight loss that these stigmas may still exist. It’s even more deflating to think that the reason these stigmas still exist are our own fault! That the reason they exist are our own defense mechanisms and the way we carry ourselves. That even though we may benefit from the physical advantages of the weight loss – we are still losing the social advantages of our weight loss because of our own self-sabotaging behavior.

I don’t know if this has been the case for me or not. I’d really be interested in hearing other people’s perspectives on this topic because I am really confused on this one. What do you think – is there still a stigma that exists even after weight loss? Have you experienced it?

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So we had a fantastic weekend, including a big party Saturday with all of our friends. I’m not sure there’s a better way to spend your Saturday night than playing lawn games, chatting around a camp fire, and making s’mores.  Nope, pretty sure there’s not.

smores

Does anyone else feel like summer JUST STARTED and all of a sudden stores are putting out FALL and HALLOWEEN decorations!!?? What the crap!? What is wrong with America that you can’t simply enjoy the season that you’re in? I for one am going to suck every last drop of life out of summer days before the days turn crisp and I have to dig out sweaters.  I adore fall, but only when it’s TIME FOR FALL.  And it is not yet time for fall. It’s still the middle of August. Good grief. It’s 80 degrees today and Wegmans has Halloween candy out.

Anyways, before that rant, I was going to say that we have a busy week this week so we’re actually only making dinner tonight & tomorrow night (grilling sausages tonight & burgers/chicken tomorrow night) — we’ve got fun plans Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and then Saturday I head back to Bradford for my 10 year high school reunion.

But despite the busy week, we’re trying to make healthy choices because of the many indulgences on Saturday. My trick to staying healthy over lunch time even if we’re going out for dinner a lot? Salads. Big-ass salads. With grilled chicken (I’m going to grill some up tomorrow night when we grill up hamburgers) and lots of veggies. They’re easy, they’re delicious. and it’s really hard to make a home-made salad unhealthy.

Remember a long time ago, I made a goal to get double unders? And toes to bar? Well, I finally HAVE DOUBLE UNDERS. No lie. I’m pretty sure the best moment of last week was when I strung 20 in a row during a WOD and Jeff (our box owner & coach) said something to the effect of, “Holy crap, Meg!” and I smiled and said I had been practicing.  We all say that Jeff is like the box dad because we all want to get his praise, and that moment was worth the multiple whip marks, crappy low WOD scores from promising myself I would only do double unders from here on out, and sore calves. Hooray for finally practicing something and seeing results.

At least Ryan doesn't mind the angry red marks on my ankles and wrists from my double under failures.

I love Ryan. I love this meme. I’m sorry for repeating this but I can’t help it.

Those toes to bar? Well, those will take a while. I finally started getting knees to elbows, so as long as I force myself to do them right, maybe by the end of the year? Eh, you can’t win them all.

Oh, and one other recent victory. We had a CFE a few weeks ago that was an AMRAP that included 20 push-ups. I ended up with 117 push-ups, which are the MOST push-ups I have ever done in my life. That was pretty cool. I couldn’t use my arms for a few days, but it was a small price to pay to be able to brag to co-workers that I could do that many REAL push-ups.

Sorry, one more update. I’ve been running again (slowly) and trying to get in a few runs over my lunch break during the week. I’ve been trying to do one CFE and one 3 miler to get my body used to running more than a mile. I’m a lot slower than I thought I was, which is really frustrating. I’d like to chalk it up to the fact that I’ve been running at noon when it’s hottest and super humid, but I can’t imagine that’s all there is to it. Bummer. Taking time off of running really messed up my long-term endurance.

This is my attempt at another selfie today over lunch before running. It's so bad I had to share it. It's fuzzy and WHERE DO YOU HOLD THE PHONE!? And also, note the awesome running clothes. It's time to do some laundry.

This is my attempt at another selfie today over lunch before running. It’s so bad I had to share it. It’s fuzzy and WHERE DO YOU HOLD THE PHONE!? And also, note the awesome mis-matched running clothes. It’s time to do some laundry.

Now I just need to get my butt back to CrossFit. I haven’t been since Thursday. I laid in bed wide awake from 2am to 4am this morning so I elected to skip the WOD. I later found out that it was a 5k row. I’m not sorry I slept in. I’ve only done a 5k row once, and it was terrible. It’s so boring. It’s the same reason I hate running on a treadmill. I must have a slight case of ADD because when I cannot last longer than a mile on a treadmill unless I’m doing intervals.

What gains have you been seeing lately in your fitness? Are you trying to hit any goals?

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This is the third part of what I believe will be a 5 part series responding to this article by Mark Sisson titled “The Stigma of Obesity.” You can find Part I here and Part II here.

In this part I want to focus on the idea that physicians themselves can have an “anti-fat” bias. There are two parts of this that I want to break down: the physician that looks down on patients because of their obesity, and the physician that is uncomfortable with their obese patients.

Physicians who look down on/judge their obese patients

Recently my sister-in-law went to her doctor because she was having some health problems and also was having trouble losing weight. She was counting her calories, making healthy choices on what she was eating (eliminating processed foods, staying away from sugars, etc.), exercising regularly, and had been doing so for months with no progress on the scale. Furthermore, she was having some issues with her overall health and she went to her doctor several times for help.

Her doctor looked at her, and how she was overweight, and basically told her that he didn’t believe what she told him about her health routine. In his mind, he saw an overweight person and therefore she could not possibly have been eating the way she said, or exercising the way she claimed. He flat out thought she was lying.

What’s worse is that he didn’t authorize the proper tests to look into what else could be the issue. It wasn’t until she left his office, vowing never to return, that she found another medical professional who actually believed her. This new doctor did extra tests and found the underlying cause to her health issues. Her health was being compromised by a variety of allergens that she was unaware of (dairy being one of them), and they also may have contributed to her inability to lose weight, despite her authentic efforts.

This wasn’t the first doctor that gave her an issue either. She also started at her family doctor who even though she showed her body media bug that tracked all of her calories, and even though they just ran a check on her thyroid, and even though she told the doctor that she didn’t feel that was the problem – when the thyroid check came back normal the doctor just brushed her off.

Mark Sisson links to a study in his blog post that found that “40% of medical students demonstrated an unconscious weight bias.” He also cites other studies when he states that “Research has illuminated anti-fat bias in therapists and even health professionals within obesity related specialties.”

Our doctors are supposed to help us be healthy, and this one story about someone close to me, however anecdotal, raises some red flags. When you combine with it these studies and research, it is alarming to think about all of the overweight or obese people who may be receiving inferior treatment from those that are supposed to be helping them the most.

Physicians who are uncomfortable with obesity

This is one that I am more familiar with. Now, don’t get me wrong – I like my doctor. He is pretty socially awkward, but I trust him and feel like he is good at what he does. The issue, however, is that he was obviously uncomfortable talking to me about my weight. He would dance around the issue, or say something like “it might be good if you lost a few pounds.”

A few pounds? My official classification when I first started seeing him at 22 was “morbidly obese.” My BMI was over 40 (I hate BMI – but I’m just trying to give a benchmark). If by “a few” he meant “a few dozen”, then sure – I can see that. But he never pushed it, he just made some passing remarks where you could tell he was obviously uncomfortable, and he let it be.

At 23 he prescribed me cholesterol medication, and we were talking about blood pressure meds. At 23. That shouldn’t happen.

But, before you think I’m just roasting my doctor – what was his alternative? If he really pushed me on my weight, I would have thought he just didn’t understand. I would have thought he was being too aggressive and I would have been uncomfortable. I seriously think that if he pushed hard for me to lose weight, and explained what I was doing to my body in detail, I would have found a new doctor and would not have returned!

I wrote most of this post before a friend commented on my Part I post, but now it all makes sense on why I was so torn on my own experience. What choice have we given doctors? My friend is a doctor, and this was her comment:

My fellow residents and I were just discussing the difficulties of talking to people about their weight/eating habits etc. We are trained to aggressively chase the numbers: BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure. However, we are horrifically undereducated about nutrition and exercise. I am honestly grateful that I have had to struggle with my weight most of my life, otherwise, I would have no insight as to what a struggle/journey it is or how incredibly complex most people’s struggles with food are. We joke that if you’re too skinny patients assume you don’t understand. If you’re too fat patients think you’re a hypocrite or obviously have no idea what you’re talking about. We’ve concluded looking like you’re working to maintain your weight gives you the most credibility. I’m curious about how your interactions with doctors, nutritionists went and how they react to you now? Especially since paleo blows most of the old timers’ minds…

We really have put medical professionals in a rough place. Most doctors aren’t also nutritionists! They understand BMI, cholesterol, and blood pressure – but do we expect them to understand all of the nuances of diet and exercise? Diet and exercise are so complicated that they have their own professions where people dedicate their entire lives: dietitians, trainers, nutritionists, coaches, etc. – all of whom have different and often conflicting opinions. Do we expect our doctors to be able to diagnose and treat our illnesses, but also give recommendations on why our interval training isn’t working for weight loss, or that we should look to limit our carb consumption to X grams a day, and up our protein to Y grams?

People who are obese are very defensive – I know I was at least. And that’s why Kelly’s comments ring so true to me. Even though I generally trust doctors, I feel like any skinny doctor I saw didn’t understand. And if I saw an overweight doctor I know I wouldn’t have taken him or her seriously either.

And, for the record, I have never talked to my current PCP about paleo. Because he’s never asked. He’s never even addressed the weight loss, because I think he’s still uncomfortable with the topic (maybe still a bias even though I’ve already lost the weight? More on that in Part IV).

It is still surprising to me that so many doctors have this bias, according to the studies cited. But I do think it’s a two-way street. We need to respect them and their opinions, and when they push. But it’s a hard spot to be in when they’re not the only ones pushing, and when we’re naturally defensive because of all of the people in our lives telling us how easy and simple it is. Again – another post without any answers. Just some rambling thoughts and observations.

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This is part of what I think will be a 5 part series on an article from Mark’s Daily Apple called “The Stigma of Obesity.” You can find Part I here.

This post is in response to the idea that obesity is the “last allowable prejudice.” Not to minimize any of the other prejudices in the world, and Mark Sisson himself asserts that “Although I think there’s enough animosity and judgmentalism in the world to debate the statement itself, I understand the central point.”

But, that being said, there is a sometimes untold secret that obese people are the victims of prejudice.

He provides a link to this study that shows how researchers measured how different biases are seen regarding obesity. I admit, I haven’t read the entire study, but without sounding dramatic – I have lived it.

I remember someone close to me complaining that she believed she was passed over on a job because of her weight. And at the time I was stunned that this could happen: I honestly hadn’t ever thought about someone discriminating based on weight. And I think I have been naive to it for a very long time. But it wasn’t until I was reflecting on this article of “The Stigma of Obesity” that I had a personal realization.

I may have been the victim of the same discrimination.

When I first started my career I applied for nine different promotions before I even got a second interview. Now, there are a lot of factors that go into the interview/job selection process. Was I under-qualified for some of those positions? Maybe. Did I not interview well? At times – probably (I quoted Machiavelli in one of my interviews – you can guess how that went). But then again, nine different first interviews, with no second interviews? Maybe there is something there. I did finally get a new position after all of this, but it was a long year and a half of applying, interviewing, and not hearing anything back.

Especially because, two years later and 50 pounds lighter, I received the first promotion I applied for.

Again – there are a lot of factors that go into this. And I can’t even sit here today and definitively state that I was the victim of prejudice because of my obesity. But, it does make me stop to think. And that alone gives some validity to the concern.

How often do we see people who are fat and think “lazy” or “doesn’t care” or “irresponsible” or “inept”? How often are those attributes personified in cartoons, television, movies, or other media as being fat? How often is the aloof person that is being portrayed overweight? How often is the character on television who is incompetent a healthy person? How often is that incompetent character fat?

I received several great responses from my post yesterday, and one of which was specifically about the work environment where a manager thought obese people were lazy. Another was a story a friend told on Facebook about how someone openly called him a “fat f***” in a bar (which then set off his own weight loss journey). I don’t know how many more stories are out there, but there are a lot. This is not only a prejudice that exists, but it truly is a socially acceptable prejudice in a lot of ways. Professional sports figures are fined a lot of money, or suspended games, if they make derogatory remarks toward someone’s race, gender, or sexual orientation. But when was the last time you saw an athlete publicly scorned for calling someone fat?

I don’t have the answers, and I’m not trying to cry wolf when it’s not there. But it is interesting to me the notion that obesity is the “last allowable prejudice.” And even if other prejudices in the world still exist, and are more severe than this one, I think it’s ignorant to believe that a prejudice against obese people doesn’t exist. And I don’t think people who are obese deserve it.

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