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Obese & Healthy

Last Friday was my yearly physical and today I got the blood test results.

According to every BMI chart out there, my 5’9″ 231 pound solid self falls on the obese side of the algorithm.

According to my primary doctor’s observational evaluation and “superb” blood test results with “good, if not better, numbers than my previous results,”  I am metabolically healthy.

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I am more than a number.  I am an ongoing work in progress. I’m not saying weight doesn’t have anything to do with your health, it clearly does.  But, it is not everything.

I stand by the belief that not every thin person is healthy, and not every obese person is unhealthy.  There are many factors that play into health, but numbers on a scale and coordinating charts do not define your lifestyle.  You define your lifestyle and the blood tests confirm it.  What you put into your body and how often you move your body is ultimately what makes you “healthy” or “unhealthy” as far as diet.  It’s a pretty simple formula.

There is a little debate about the term “metabolically healthy obese” but more and more people are starting to understand that it’s not all about weight.  “It’s much easier to get a fat person fit than it is to get a fat person thin,” states Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., an exercise and wellness professor at Arizona State University.   My experience focusing on weight alone has led to a lifetime of yo-yo dieting and depression, fueling my hatred for TV Shows like The Biggest Loser.  Since changing my mindset to focus on strength and fitness, I’ve never felt better in this “obese” body and I’ve tried to make it easier for others to accept their own natural healthy size.

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I dreaded these annual physicals in previous years due to my elevated weight, poor eating habits, and fear of needles.  2 years ago and 48 pounds heavier, I knew it was time to change & take control of my health no matter how difficult.  I wanted to feel better in my skin while improving my overall quality of life.  My primary doctor’s tactful bedside manner and compassion for my weight struggles had a large part of helping me get started in making the right food and exercise choices.    Being lambasted by primarily older doctors in the past about my weight would send me spiraling deeper into a depression and avoiding check ups on the regular in fear of “failing”.  With my current physician it’s a team effort and I never feel judged.  That’s the way it should be.

This is why I cannot express enough how finding a support system that you trust, and who builds you up instead of tearing you down, is very important in reaching your health goals.   I tried to do it on my own in the past, but I knew that I needed guidance from someone who I could be completely honest with this time around.  Not only did I find a wonderful Primary doctor, but I found an excellent therapist who I saw regularly over these past years.  I now only call her if I need her and I have not seen her in over 2 months.  It’s nice to know professional resources are there when I need a little extra support, ongoing or temporary, and that they will help guide me back into a positive and encouraging mindset.

I understand not everyone has access to these resources but sometimes we all just need to find that one person in your life (a partner, sibling, parent, child, co-worker, friend, blogger, etc.) who will be there to urge and support you as you transition your existence into something meaningful and long-lasting.  I want to let you all know that it’s OK to ask for help and you are not alone in your struggles to find that healthy balance in your life.

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Thoughts on Addiction.

I have a pretty serious addiction.  It may be arguable but it’s actually in the Top 10 Most Common Addictions in America.

I find myself constantly thinking about one of the things that gives me a high, which is food.  Whether I’m happy, sad, complacent, or bored, I’m always thinking about my next “fix”.   Moreover, it’s usually unhealthy sugar or carbo loaded food that I know is poison to my body and will make me feel physically and mentally horrible afterwards.  It may also be an urge to eat any food (healthy or not) and feel that extremely full where it’s almost painful food coma, also known as overeating.  Both of these acts to be followed by shame and disgust.  I also find in trying to control my addiction to food, I tend to fill my “need hole” with a behavioral addiction in the form of exercise or shopping.. The only downfall is that exercise is work, shopping can cost too much money, and eating food is cheap & easy.  I am the type of person that likes cheap & easy!

So why do I still feel this urge to eat such horrible foods when it’s been proven from experience and SCIENCE that eating healthier not only makes you feel better but live longer?  Is it the taboo?  Is it depression?  Or is it addiction?

It’s a constant cycle no matter what your drug of choice.

I recently read a short article about how impulsive personalities are linked to food addiction, stating that while their “study shows that impulsive behavior was not necessarily associated with obesity, impulsive behaviors can lead to food addiction.”  It made me wonder if I have this type of personality or if I have an addictive personality, or if all of them are rolled up into one!  In doing some self analyzing I concluded that I just might have an impulsive personality but I struggle to contain it in accordance with social norms.  I do things that make me feel good, even if it may be defined as “unhealthy”, as long as it does seem to be hurting another person.  I’m not stealing from or attacking people because of my addiction.  This is how I justify my actions.  But in doing this I fail to take into account myself, and how my demise may effect those who love and care about me.  This is something I’ve been trying to figure out in therapy for the past year.  Addicts don’t realize how their decisions effect other people emotionally, because the need of getting that next high is too powerful.  So we see addiction as selfish and stupid.  This is why the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman struck a cord with me as people ridiculed him for overdosing on heroin while he had 3 children and a lucrative career.  I may not have an illegal drug addiction or an alcohol addiction, but food is my drug of choice.  And food is available almost anywhere and at any age so I don’t have to walk into a dark alleyway to buy a loaf of delicious crispy Italian bread for $50.

I strangely identified with this tragedy, which I thought was crazy since I’ve never been around any sort of illegal drug activity in my life.  Then I read that a study suggests “in some people’s brains high calorie foods can elicit cravings and trigger responses similar to those caused by addictive drugs,” and I felt compassion and sadness that his addiction got the best of him.  It must be great that some of those who spoke out angrily against Mr. Hoffman don’t have an addiction, good for you!  But for those of us who constantly have that feeling of needing something we know may kill us or make us unhealthy, whether now or over time, it’s not as simple as “he just didn’t care about anyone but himself.” It is more than that.  Addiction is a complex disease that changes brain chemistry in the user.

Addiction also comes in many forms aside from illegal substances & food, including the internet/technology, caffeine, pornography, sex, prescription drugs, gambling,  smoking, alcohol, video games, hoarding and yes even shopping!  The list does not stop there either.  There is that fine line between having a healthy relationship with these things and having a problem, and personally I feel no one should be judged for how their addiction controls them. Addiction may be difficult for those who don’t understand, I get that, I just hope people can find compassion in themselves for those who may not be as strong or as disciplined as they are.  I’m constantly wrestling with my addictions and though I feel I’m in a much better place than previous years, I will always struggle with unhealthy impulses.

All I can do is try to live better each day, work on being emotionally stronger, and ask for help.

Never be afraid to ask for help.  Please take time to read this compelling article by actor Russel Brand about his own struggle with addiction.  No words can describe the thoughtfulness and rawness of his words.

What is your food vice?

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I thought I could go back to keeping peanut butter in my house, but I was dead wrong.  My boyfriend is an enabler, albeit an adorable and loving enabler, who gave me his peanut butter since it was not “easily spreadable”.  Good thing (?) I just eat it with a spoon.  I can simply eat an entire 16 oz. container of Skippy Reduced Fat peanut butter with an orgasmic smile on my face.  That’s about 2400 calories right there.  DOUBLE my daily allotted calories for my fitness plan!  This week I attempted to only eat about half in a seating, but in the past I could house that entire container like a pint of ice cream while watching “Hoarders.”  Sure, moments after I’m done I’ll have a feeling of nausea and regret followed by extra miles at the gym, but I felt it was worth it in the past.  Today I don’t feel the same way.  I don’t want to give up peanut butter, but I think switching to individual packets will be the best way for me to manage portion control.   I also found some Reduced Fat JIF To Go packs in case I find myself wanting to dip something besides my mouth into the creamy deliciousness.  I do have to make sure not to keep to many in the house or they will all be gone in one day!  Don’t worry, I’m working on my discipline in therapy, but it’s been an ongoing battle.  This may not be the most cost effective plan, but it will aid me in resisting my unhealthy urges.  Ultimately that is most important to me.

I also found these individual Nutella packets online!  This can help many Nutella addicts out there, myself included!

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