I’ve been considering writing about this subject for a while now. I’ve been unhappy with my weight for a long time and a few years ago I had to come to terms with the fact that there really isn’t much I can do about it. That was about the same time that I started showing symptoms for ME. I couldn’t even do normal everyday things let alone do any exercising which was already difficult beyond belief due to having hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) and asthma.
I’d already been to my doctor and been referred to the NHS weight management service only to find that as per usual the NHS doesn’t have a clue about what to do with people like me. People who have multiple health conditions and can’t just go to a gym to work out. I tried a session of aqua aerobics and while I enjoyed it, and the water did support me, getting out of the water was exhausting. Going to the leisure centre and being part of a class also triggered my anxiety. I was back to square one.
I’ve successfully lost weight several times previously. As the title of this post states overeating isn’t my problem. I know what works for me and I’ve had great success with a ketogenic diet. Unfortunately, I’m now on a certain medication for my migraines that specifically cannot be taken alongside a ketogenic diet. I’ve spoken to my doctor about how much of a keto diet I can do and was warned that the higher the dose of the medication the more at risk I would be. I’ve recently had to increase the medication which means that a ketogenic diet is out.
What people don’t realise about diets is that starving yourself doesn’t work for everyone. We all have a different type of metabolism. Mine responds to a heavy protein diet, plus, with my health conditions I can’t starve myself. If I don’t eat regularly I get migraines or I start to feel unwell, faint or fatigued; ME is a complicated balancing game.
What prompted this sudden post was the English government’s “Obesity Strategy” announcement which as usual whenever anything about obesity comes up has people commenting about how easy it is to lose weight, how people should do it for their health, how anyone can do it because they did it, blah blah blah. There are already people claiming that obesity is behind the high COVID-19 rates in the US, completely ignoring the US government’s blatant mishandling of the pandemic, even though the US doesn’t actually have the highest obesity rate in the world. Interestingly, the US is 12th on that list and the UK is 36th which suggests a rather big flaw in the link between obesity and COVID-19 flaw. What England and the US do have in common are governments who have failed to contain the pandemic, however, that’s a topic for another day.
A year or so ago Cancer Research did something similar and produced an advertising campaign focused on obesity as one of the main causes of cancer. It led to twitter trolls telling obese people (myself included) that they were going to die of cancer.
I don’t know what it is about the term obesity but as soon as it’s mentioned people (usually thin people) feel the need to force advice down people’s throats and seem to think that plus-sized people don’t realise their body size or the health risks that come with it. Newsflash; we’re aware. We know what we look like, we know how you see us, what you think of us, and what you’re thinking when we walk into a clothes shop or see us eating something other than a salad.
I would love to lose weight. I’d love to be able to exercise, even just easy exercises at home and one day I’ll build back up to that again. Right now with the pandemic happening my stress levels are too high, and ME is a neurological condition that manifests itself physically. That means everything I feel in my brain has an effect on my body physically (you can read the science here if you’re interested).
The point of this post is not to make excuses; it’s to show that obesity isn’t a simple issue. I’m just one person and this is just one story, one example. Governments need to stop funding diet based obesity campaigns that only fuel stigma and start looking at the wider picture. The money being wasted on this campaign could be used to start a support program that offers physio support and exercise programs for people with chronic conditions. One that enables them to gain control of their weight, become more independent and mobile again. Such a program wouldn’t just help lower their obesity, it would help their overall health and wellbeing. But no, it’s much easier to make obesity the scapegoat of COVID-19.
Over to you
This was an impromptu post that has been boiling under the surface for a while now, and one of a number of more serious real-world topics that I want to start discussing here at Just Geeking By as part of a new series called ‘Real talk with the Geek’. Some will be opinion pieces and others will be more research-based.
Topics like this can be controversial and I ask that when leaving a comment that you remain respectful towards myself and other commenters. Discussions are welcome, however, trolls and those who are looking simply to cause trouble are not welcome. Please also refrain from handing out medical advise or diagnosing people. At the end of the day, this is my blog and I will delete any comments that I feel are harmful or not beneficial to the discussion. If you wish to exercise your right to free speech then you’re more than welcome to do so – just not here.
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Image Credits: Scales image is from Pexels.