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20130520_obesity

When you blog consistently for 8 years, funny stuff start to happen, like people sending emails asking you random things.

Can you review our product? Do you mind checking out my site? We’d love to host a giveaway for your readers.  Would you like to interview so-and-so-trainer-you-never-heard-of they have a book coming out. Blah, blah, blah. 

Hey, I’m not complaining. I’m flattered and honestly, it’s a good “problem” to have.

I do my best to keep up, responding to the ones that seem to have come from another human being. Sometimes conversations ensue.

Recently Malene of TravelTheUnitedStates.wordpress.com reached out about her Obesity Awareness campaign. I was intrigued, but see, I have an issue with the concept of “Obesity Awareness.”

In all honestly, I hate that word/phrase and the way traditional media flings it around shoving facts and figures down our throats.  So I  responded to Malene and thought I’d share our conversation here because I may be silly. I’m sure you’ll tell me. Right?

 Dear Roni, (Yes, I did dig to find your email address)

On July 20th I start to walk around the US, an 9000 mile walk, to raise awareness about obesity.

When was the last time you saw an obesity awareness event that does not blame those who weigh too much? And, when was the last time you saw that same event aim to inspire, empower and provide fabulous free resources to anyone who wants to lose weight?

This is what I will do, and I could so use your help!

First of all of course, because I want my message to get out there. It is important for me to aid in an constructive conversation about obesity. I want to challenge the stigma and the discrimination. I want to humanize people who deals with overweight. I want to empower everyone who wants to live healthier.

See, part of my walk is for fund raising. I am fund raising for LiveFit Revolution an 501(3c) charity that gives us all the resources we need to lose weight completely free of charge. I really want to see this amazing resource go to the next level.

I also have to admit that without fund raising, I don’t get to walk. I don’t have the cash to fund this myself so I need to raise the money to start walking.

I would be so grateful if you would consider featuring something about my walk on your blog and with your readers. As a blogger yourself, I am sure you know the struggles for new bloggers of getting what they write seen.

Here is my blog: https://traveltheunitedstates.wordpress.com/

Thank you so much in advance,

Malene

Note: Her joke about digging to find my email cracks me up as it’s hidden on my FAQ page in hopes of curbing some of the email. I put it there over 5 years ago and totally forgot about it.

My response…

Hi Malene!

What an adventure!! So exciting!

I think what you’re doing is great but honestly I tend to avoid promoting campaigns that tout obesity awareness. I talk a little about why in this post.. http://ronisweigh.com/2012/05/sharing-the-skinny-on-obesity.html

We have almost too much “obesity awareness” in the media. Once that word gets thrown in the mix I feel like people shut down. We’re callous to it as a culture. Numb.

I’d love your thoughts on this as I wold love to support you any way I can, but like I said, I tend to cringe at obesity campaigns. We don’t need more numbers thrown in our faces, we need to work on changing our culture in a much deeper way.

Just my thoughts,

Roni

After I hit send I realized I sound like a lunatic offering unsolicited advice and shoving my opinion down her face, but she responded anyway!

Hey Roni,

Thank you so much for getting back to me and for your thoughts on “obesity awareness campaigns”.

Your comment that you have no desire to fight it out with the “fat acceptance” people really stuck with me. I had one very uncomfortable situation with people telling me that I contributed to the stigma of obesity because I wanted to fight against it, and I really do not want to spend one single minute of this endeavor on that side of the political discussion. I am not quite sure how to avoid this, but your mentioning that concern just crystallized for me that I have to put some thought in to that. I would love to hear something about how you avoided that conflict, because as mentioned I fell full on, headfirst into it a few days ago.

You are right that we see a lot of conversation about the “obesity epidemic” in the media, but I really think those conversations are very unhelpful. In fact, I think they increase the stigma of being obese, and I want to challenge them on my walk, not perpetuate them. I am hoping that when it comes to the media the excitement of my adventure, the pure scale of walking 9000 mile, especially starting at my size, will add a different note to the discussion.

All of the obesity awareness I see from the media or other places focuses directly or indirectly on blaming people for the excess weight. As I experience the conversation attention is exclusively focused on what we eat and how we exercise.

My message is a little different. As someone who has struggled with my weight throughout my life I want to focus a lot of attention on taking away the stigma and the blame. I do this for a number of reasons:

  • If we feel guilty about our weight then the shame makes it harder to lose weight
  • The discrimination we face every single day in society due to our weight is – well – it is what discrimination always is.
  • If we blame those who struggle with their weight for their troubles then we don’t have to care about it.
  • Due to this discrimination there are exceedingly few fund raisers, or constructive help available for people with weight issues unless they can pay for the help themselves.
  • The one biggest predictor of weight issues is poverty so a lot of overweight people can’t pay for the help they need
  • I actually believe that issues with our weight are a LOT more complex than to just focus on diet and exercise.

My message is that obesity is a complex medical, hormonal, genetic, emotional and life style based condition. Since life style is only one aspect of obesity it makes no sense to blame the overweight person.

It is a condition that we can take full control over through our life style choices of healthy eating and exercise. It is my goal to empower myself and others to get better at making those choices throughout my walk. If we have the tendency towards obesity then the life style choices we have to make in order to fight back might have to be a little more regimented than someone who does not have that tendency, but really my main focus will be on healthy, unprocessed foods and the enjoyment of moving.

I don’t say this to focus away from personal responsibility. I think we all have the responsibility to live as healthy lives as we can. As mentioned above I just really believe that the discrimination and stigma of obesity has taken a horrible turn.

More than anything I want to take a fun, exciting adventure, involve as many people as possible and make weight loss and a healthy life style something that is approachable for anyone. I want to empower people to think of their dreams and to take steps to realize those  dreams. I want to put the joy into moving. I want to put pure pleasure into the best of normal foods. Life is hard for people who struggle with extreme obesity, and I want to show myself and everyone else that it is possible to stop struggling and start living. I want to show people who are obese as strong human beings with their own dreams and aspirations, abilities and strengths. I want to kick the yucky, overly processed, ever so disgusting foods to the curb and label them as the inedible yuck that they are.

So, should I use some other word than obesity awareness? It seemed to cover what my intention is, but I am open to suggestions.

Thank you again for your email. I really hope you find something in my email that speaks to you, and that you are willing to feature something about my walk.

The only way I knew how to respond was with more of my opinions. Geesh, I’m kind of a jerk.

I totally understand your message as it’s similar to my own. I just think when you throw the word “obesity” in there it…

  1. Gives the media more fuel for their fire allowing them to skew it the way they always do
  2. Gives the fat acceptance people something to be angry about (as you already experienced)
  3. Turns off folks who do see it solely as personal responsibility.

I’m not sure what the answer is or what else you could call it but I think it would help to come up with something catchy that avoids the dreaded “o” word.

Again, only my opinion. Feel free to ignore the crazy blogger lady. :)

She was so nice to reply again and her response gave me an idea.

Hey Roni,

I definitely appreciate your feedback. It seems I unknowingly, and unintentionally stepped in to a mine field. I will have to spend some time on fine tuning my message, and truly it probably won’t be completely fine tuned until I hit the road and start to interact with larger numbers of people. In the end, if I focus on my walk and on empowerment, I can’t go wrong. At the moment I do focus some one the numbers around obesity, because I feel it might help motivate some to get involved, but that is actually already starting to change as I am finally getting speaking engagements.

I suppose, in the end, this will be part of the conversation I aim to have, and that just might be a great thing.

In the mean time I would still be so grateful for any and all support you can offer me. I need to get the word out there about my walk to as broad an audience as possible.

Why not share our conversation here on the blog and see what you guys think!

She agreed and here we are.

Am I being too sensitive? Honestly, every time I see someone spewing obesity stats I cringe. My gut reaction is: How is this helping anyone? We can continue talk about it or we can DO something.

Malene is DOING something and I think that’s pretty cool.

 
  • http://twitter.com/stephkdesign steph k

    I had to read this! And though I skimmed a bit, it brought up some feelings because I THOUGHT about it.

    This may be completely random, but it made me think about what that phrase does to me and so I thought I’d share. I’m a little bit numb to it, but mostly the term “obesity awareness” makes me ANGRY. The attitude towards it makes me angry too. I’m considered “morbidly obese” and I KNOW it. I KNOW I’m fat. I know I need to lose weight. I’m completely AWARE there is a “problem”.

    Most people my size are perfectly AWARE they are obese. The problem is they are ok with it. All right, maybe they aren’t ok with it, but they aren’t DISTURBED by it enough to want to change it.

    And then some of us ARE trying to change it. I eat fairly healthy, I have a personal trainer who I pay to help me work out 3 days a week. I ride my bike to work at least 2X a week and do interval training on my own. On the weekends I play racquetball for about an hour. I am slow, I am big, I’m trying SO hard to loose weight. Because I am AWARE and also DISTURBED enough to try to be healthy. And I’m lucky enough to have a handful of people who support me on the level I need it. Who aren’t afraid to call me on my crap instead of being enablers. People who invite me to be active, who are aware or my mood and feelings. People I explicitly trust. They are already AWARE too. And they understand. And they help me STAY disturbed.

    So let’s forget this “awareness” thing all together and focus on something more important… like helping people feel disturbed enough to change. And don’t think I mean that we should bully fat people. That’s not the answer. They are people too and they should be accepted (that being said, I am strangely NOT in the fat acceptance camp). What about understanding? If we understand why people are the way they are (because it’s not all laziness and failure to exercise. A lot of it is miseducation and complacency, I think (and dare I say “Fat Acceptors??)), and work together to help those people feel disturbed enough to CHANGE, great things can happen.

    Maybe my problem is not with the term “obesity” as much as it is “awareness” and maybe that means to be”understanding.” There should be more conversations about helping and less about scare tactics and putting on the obese individual to change… or pointing out the obvious. More acceptance and understanding to HELP them change. LEss enabling and pointing out.

    Does that even make sense? :)

    -Steph

    • Malene

      Thank you to all of you for your feedback! My intention is to challenge the preconceived notion that diet and exercise is exclusively to blame for our weight – it is not. There are several hormonal imbalances or even diseases that have a huge impact on our ability to stay slim or even lose weight. I am not saying that diet and exercise isnt the answer – we all know it is. I am saying that obesity is a lot more complex than it is currently being portrayed. My tag line you will see throughout my site is that obesity is a medical, hormonal, emotional and life style condition. If more people are aware that it is not as black and white as focusing on blaming us – and yes i too am morbidly obese – for our weight then maybe more resources and more overall empowerment will be available throughout society. Certainly, we will see less discrimination. Not everyone has the support they need, or even the knowledge they need to take obesity on. This is why we need more resources, more constructive conversation and more support dedicated to this issue. If we compare obesity with breast cancer then 10 times as many people die from obesity than from breast cancer. Yet, because noone would blame someone with breast cancer society devotes many times more resources to that issue.

      I will however put my little head to use and come up with a better term if it is offensive. Maybe Obesity Empowerment Walk or something similar.

    • Sammy D

      What about overcoming or facing obesity one step at a time.

    • Staci Moize

      I like that! :) Or “Walk Away from Obesity.” ??? Lol, I dunno. Maybe too corny.

    • http://www.facebook.com/malene.comes Malene Rander Comes

      Thanks Guys! The name of my my walk is “A Conversation with America”. Because that is what I want to have. The only time I mention “obesity awareness” is in some descriptions of my plans. It seemed to me to be a word that fit – I am not learning it just gets people’s hackles up, so I will try to avoid it. I do focus on obesity because the problem is so big, with so many lives lost, and there are so few resources available throughout society to help us. I think it is time we change that!

    • Susan

      I applaud you for DOING something about your health/weight.

      You hit the nail on the head: Change has to come from the individual.

      We can educate, support, coach, push, make demands, change the enviornment, etc… but ultimately the change has to come from each individual. They have to want to change and make the effort to do so. …And it’s much harder to do that rather than be complacent and carry on as they are, even if they know their health is in jepardy.

      Steph, I wish you the best in your health improvement/weight loss endeavors. I respect and admire you for the hard work you are doing. Thank you for taking action for you!

    • http://www.facebook.com/malene.comes Malene Rander Comes

      Hey Susan, Thanks for the support :). Ultimately, you are right, we have to make changes to take our weight back under control. At the same time, this is a lot more complex than just looking at the individual’s changes.

      Doctors must be involved when we look to do major weight loss, but unfortunately all too often people don’t have health insurance, and just as often doctors do not do the required testing of hormonal levels, even when approached by us.

      I also think that all too often obese people do not have anyone to “educate, support, coach or push” them. We need more resources in the communities to do those things for and with people! Let’s not forget that the single biggest predictor of obesity is poverty. If you are poor then you are more than 20 times as likely to be obese.

      Malene

  • Andie

    How about the “Walk of Empowerment”, “Empower Walk” “Empowering Health Walk?” Empower is good word.

  • whosallysparrow

    Why not just do a “good health” walk? Or an “empowerment” walk, or a “first steps” walk? Why do we have to focus on someone’s size in particular? I don’t get it. I understand being tired of the discrimination, but truthfully, we overweight folks understand that our heath is in jeopardy. How is the “awareness” of others going to change that?

    The biggest problem I see is this: Discrimination against blacks, the LGBTQ community, etc. is discrimination against who a person is. FUNDAMENTALLY. Something that is a part of them as much as a limb or an internal organ. Obesity is not. It’s something that we can do something about (although, admittedly, it’s hard), and it’s something that negatively impacts our lives without taking into consideration the social implications of being overweight. Anyone who argues differently is fooling themselves.

    Maybe the answer is to spread the message that love, not hate and discrimination, can end the obesity in this country. Maybe the message should be that the first step towards resolving this issue and helping those who need it is compassion. But not compassion leading towards acceptance, compassion leading towards RESULTS.

    Sorry for the mind dump. :)

  • Christine

    Health at every size is such a great framework–much more empowering and gets to a wider population than obesity awareness. Plus it is unifying.
    I think your campaign would be stronger if you focused on empowering people to exercise, regardless of size.

    • DA

      Can the average woman be healthy at 500 pounds? I’m all for “let’s exercise no matter what your size!” but the truth is that having too much fat is still harmful. Even if there weren’t any greater risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer (there are), at the most basic level, our knees and ankles weren’t built to handle so much weight. Obesity really is a problem, and somebody has to address it. We can’t all pretend that it’s all okay as long as we get some exercise.

    • Christine Caffrey

      “but the truth is that having too much fat is still harmful.”
      Not true for every fat person. Please go read the health at every size website and literature.

  • LisaM

    I agree with Christine – I think the subtle shift of making this walk focus on Health is what’s called for. Obesity is not a valid excuse not to exercise, as you are beautifully illustrating with your walk. So many obese people could be in much better health if they just got over their perceived stigma of big people being seen participating in the physical, active world. The gym, or the bike trail, or the volleyball court is not reserved for only those who wear size 2 spandex. Of course there is a possible by-product of exercise, which is weight loss, but that’s not guaranteed. Lots of people stay big even though they exercise regularly, and those folks are generally healthier than big people who don’t exercise.

  • Jasmine

    I agree with both of you in that I don’t think the “o” word should be thrown around. But I also love how Malene is embarking on such an amazing journey and DOING something.

    • http://www.facebook.com/malene.comes Malene Rander Comes

      Hey Jasmine,

      My gut reaction when people say we shouldnt “throw around the “o” word” is that this on it’s own is discrimination. When you get to be 150 pounds overweight it is a painful issue. Why shouldn’t we talk about the issues surrounding obesity? If we don’t talk about it then it is harder to get help, harder to talk to people about why society at large should give a rats back side. Harder to take back our power. By facing it head on and saying “I am obese, I am a good person, it is not my fault that my hormones are screwed up, and I deserve help and support” we force ourselves and the society we live in to deal with this more effectively. It is like the dirty secret we are scared of saying out loud, and the more we hide it the worse it gets.

      Another aspect is that this walk will become about obesity no matter what I do. When i start out on the walk I will be below 300 pounds – but not by much. It is impossible to not notice my size, and it will probably be impossible not to have that be part of the conversation.

      That said, I am really grateful to you and Roni that you see beyond you basic dislike of the “O” (I keep thinking that the “o” stands for something entirely different and much more pleasureable), and be supportive of the adventure. I don’t mean to rub people the wrong way, but I do mean to spark discussion so I appreciate this exchange.

      Malene

  • Anne

    I guess I don’t understand the distinction you are trying to make between “talking about it” and “doing something about it.” I think that it assumes that words and knowledge aren’t important, which is a strange point of view for someone who has a blog such as yours. I would like to know more about what you mean by this distinction – is it that doing something is very individual and talking about it is more for the government or media?

    • RoniNoone

      What I mean is she’s dong something to inspire, motivate and empower which I think is great. That’s why I replied to her. What rubs me the wrong way is doing it for the purpose of “obesity awareness.” It comes down to semantics and marketing I guess. All I know is the phrase “obesity awareness” rubs me the wrong way. I wish more people would do things like this because it’s inspiring and fun and motivating, but when it’s done in the name of obesity awareness the message gets cloudy in my opinion. I guess I’m tired of the focus on obesity. I’d much rather the focus be on healthy lifestyles regardless of current body size.

    • Anne

      I see your point. I guess for me it is semantics but I think words are important. If it were a walk to “end” obesity, it would be more clearly a problem. I’m just of the belief that the more we talk about and hear information about issues, the better. I say this as a former smoker who “knew” it all, until one day it clicked for me and the knowledge became real and scary. Anyway, good thoughts all around!

    • RoniNoone

      And I see yours. I guess this has one more layer which is things I WANT to promote and support. I stay away from the obesity specific things because I’m not comfortable with that direction.

  • Janis

    Call it a “crap food epidemic.” That’s really what it is, and puts the focus on an environment that makes it really hard to maintain a good, fit weight. Seriously — there was no “obesity epidemic” until our food environment went completely off the rails. This is a problem with our culture’s food industries. By the time it makes it to people’s hips, the problem is too far downstream to solve.

    • http://twitter.com/gardengirl_kp Karen P

      Crap food, indeed. Junk food had so much to do with my major root causes. So glad to be off that stuff.

    • http://www.davegfitness.com/ David Gardner

      I concur…I am kid of the 70′s, and although there was fast food in those days, there is not nearly as many type places as today, and it was a rare treat to get to go to McDonalds…now there is fast food everywhere and its too convenient.

  • http://twitter.com/gardengirl_kp Karen P

    For me, correlation with the diseases say diabetes , heart disease , orthopedic issues- that’s the battle I faced- along with knowing I would be spending my money and time on treatments and medication. Obesity was a warning sign and I could choose how I spent the rest of my life, chronic disease or mostly well. Time would go by, but the quality was something I’d have to work for , fight for, and uncover the root causes. Conventional Medicine did not have the answer, I did have the answer, it took a lot of time and practice and getting unhooked from the standard American Diet.

    Obesity is a medical definition. Lots of different root causes. It’s getting the right support and problem solving lined up and working , as needed. We are stronger together, but having the right support during loss and maintenance is key. Bringing birds of a feather together – and being able to change flocks , as needed. Interesting discussion. Without brain storming, cooperation, and support, it would be a tougher road.

    We are stronger together. Removing the barriers to better health.

    Good luck and keep the conversation going.

  • nancyabc

    I keep reading this over and over–is it the blame game? All I know is that when I work on something –things get better and if I don’t nothing happens. Since I tipped the scales close to 500 pds at one time I can speak on the part that there is no real life at that weight (but someone out there would likely disagree with me on this). Aren’t we here to live life? Now that I am down a considerable amount of weight I know the difference. (Although to see me you would still consider me extremely obese.) I personally do well with positive feedback and encouragment but don’t we all in some way.
    I am thankful for places like this to find encouragment and the power to stick with it.

  • Noelle

    It seems like as long as people feel shame about it, this culture will use it to shame them. Which comes first is a question for the individual. A person can work on how or if they internalize the messages coming at them. It’s not shaming if you don’t feel shame, and how you interpret your thoughts into feelings is in your control (I’m not saying it’s easy, just that it is possible). Exercising to raise “obesity awareness” is living in society’s paradigm. It doesn’t change anything because what people will see is the exercise portion of the endeavor- that she is trying to lose weight, not the fine print (that weight and eating are multi-faceted).

  • Betsy

    What I thought was strange about her email, though, was that she said obesity was a “complex medical, hormonal, genetic, emotional and life style based condition” that “we can take full control over through our life style choices.” Clearly, if lifestyle is only one of many components affecting a person’s weight, changing that component may not lead to weight loss, though it would likely lead to increased health. Maybe that’s the trouble with the obesity awareness campaigns, that they should be health awareness campaigns instead? Then they incorporate everyone, fat and and thin alike, and don’t increase the stigma fat people face.

  • Nicole

    This is a really interesting discussion to me. I have been overweight my entire life, and I have watched my mother yo-yo between 120lbs and 280lbs. We ate so much crappy food when I was growing up; Janis is right that a lot of this is about the “crap food epidemic.”

    Now that I am an adult I have developed a love for exercise and a passion for good nutrition for both health and weight loss/maintenance. What makes me sad is that I was interested in sports as a kid, but was always ostracized/ ridiculed by others because of my weight and lack of coordination and skill.

    I will admit to being a little judgy about obese people because I am a big believer in personal responsibility and I agree with Steph and Susan that change has to come from the individual. I know how hard it is to make those changes–I have lost 60 lbs and would like to lose another 10-20. I dedicate a huge proportion of my time and energy to going to the gym and preparing healthy foods, because I have developed a passion for it. People who complain about not having time but then writing on FB about the latest video game or last episode of Game of Thrones get little sympathy from me.

    I do agree with Malene that poverty is a huge barrier to good nutrition and fitness. There are programs that give people bonus food stamps when they go to a farmer’s market, but you still have to be able to get to the farmers market when they’re open to pick up your veggies, and have the time after a long day at work to chop and prepare them rather than the easy out of zipping through the McD’s drive-through or nuking a can of spaghetti-o’s. I have been challenged when trying to figure out how to educate less fortunate people on how to prepare veggies and less processed foods so that they are economical and tasty, without coming off as totally patronizing or shaming them for their current food choices. Ideally this is a problem that needs focused attention from many different directions.

    • http://www.facebook.com/malene.comes Malene Rander Comes

      I agree that personal responsibility plays a role, but there is so much more to it.

      poverty is as we both agree a huge barrier. For millions of people out there hormonal imbalances makes it incredibly difficult to stop the weight gain, and some of them cant afford doctors, making everything worse. Hormonal disease include; Diabetes, PCOS, Thyroidism and a few others.

      Early learning is another huge barrier, for some people unhealthy eating is all they know, if we couple that with poverty and living on the edge of society we get more problems.

      This is why I say this is a complex issue, it it is time we take the stigma out of obesity. The other side of the coin of personal responsibility is the judgment on obese people. We must combat the stigma, and get society involved in dealing with this issue on the same level that society is involved with helping with for instance breast cancer.

      That is why awareness is important – much as you guys are tired of hearing about it.

      Malene

  • Carrie

    This is an interesting topic. I tend to “own” my obesity. I try not to apologize for it, but it is part of me and something I recognize.

    It still frustrates me that it is so difficult to find quality clothing for anyone over a size 16 if half the population is this size. It still frustrates me that junk food is so much more convenient to purchase and eat than healthy food. However, I do believe it is mostly my problem and my responsibility because I am the one who perfected the couch surfing lifestyle.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is people are very uncomfortable talking about it. I have a friend who has the same issues I do and refuses to discuss any part of it. She won’t even mention to someone how great they look if they’ve obviously lost weight because she’s afraid it will make them feel bad about their past or future.

    I, on the other hand, tend to discuss it like it’s the color of my hair. For instance, I asked a massage therapist if it was more difficult for her to work on me because of my size. She was surprised by the question, but because she is a sweetheart she answered without pity or disgust. (The answer was no and she explained why.) If I am curious about how it affects my life, I will ask the questions. I will ask for a more sturdy chair if I think there’s one that can’t hold me. It’s far less embarassing to do that then to fall on my butt when it breaks. (Been there, done that.)

    I think the bottom line is to see obesity as a problem for the country but still accept the people behind it.

    Thanks, as always, for a great topic.

    • http://www.facebook.com/malene.comes Malene Rander Comes

      Hey Carrie,

      I so appreciate this, and I completely agree. Why shouldn’t we talk about being overweight? If we refuse to talk about it that just means we shy away from something. There is so much more to obesity than couch surfing and bad food choices though. If all you ever learned are bad food choices for instance, then it takes a lot of learning to get away from it as an adult. Emotional issues also plays a part. Then there are hormones, several kinds of hormone imbalances can cause us to over eat high glycemic index foods. Along with the issues you mentioned above it really bothers me that doctors do not routinely check thyroid, progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, insulin and a few other hormones when helping people who struggle with their weight – but they don’t. With obesity we are sometimes talking chicken or egg issues when we refer to hormonal imbalances. Diseases such as PCOS causes obesity AND are made worse by obesity. People with PCOS usually had the disease before they gained weight though. Thyroid imbalances are the same – they can cause weight gain, and weight gain makes it worse.

  • Theresa

    Individual Diet and exercise is a huge, huge part of losing weight and that is what most people only see when they see an obese person. They do not realize that each obese person is fighting their own unique battle may it be hating exercise, can’t afford “healthy” food, or a medical condition. My daughter is fighting thyroidism which is causing her metabolism to be very so and over weight. She has cleaned up her diet, she exercises, but nothing has changed in her weight although she has “toned” up but until the doctors get the medication right, she won’t lose the weight. To say the least she is frustrated. Not only is she tired, cold, and has thinning hair from this disease but she is overweight and that is what people see. I’m not using this disease as an excuse (as some people have told me me) because they think all she has to do is diet and exercise. Little do they know. Thanks, Marlene for undertaking such a widely misunderstood disease(?) There definitely needs to be more conversation and awareness about the causes of obesity, not just diet and exercise. Thank you Roni for shedding more light on a healthy lifestyle regardless of weight. As long as my daughter continues on this path of healthy eating, exercise and the correct medication she will win in the end.

  • Sara

    I had never noticed but I do check out when the word obese comes into conversation (typically). I think Americans are aware of the problem. I mean the amount of obese people in the US is outrageous (myself included). We know the health problems and such. I am reminded of why I shouldn’t be obese everyday. “Awareness” just makes me feel guilty and angry. I know that is a personal perception problem that I need to change. But I am sure that I am not alone in that thinking. I wish someone would approach it from a different angle. Teach me what I should do. Make it fun. Leave the downers for the American Heart Association. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jody-R-Goldenfield/100000069514057 Jody R. Goldenfield

    I am still thinking thru this whole post but LOVE the discussion! I do love the empower walk! :)

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