Archive for the tag - overweight

Fat Shaming Just Makes You Fatter.

o-FAT-SHAME-STUDY-facebookThere are many ways to motivate people to lose weight. But shame isn’t one of them.

That is, at least, according to a new study about weight stigma from a researcher at UC Santa Barbara. According to the findings, the media’s characterization of overweight people as lazy, weak-minded and self-indulgent may actually be contributing to the problem rather than helping to solve it.

For the experiment, women of various weights, shapes and sizes were divided into two groups. One group of women read a mock article titled “Quit Smoking Or Lose Your Job.” The second group read a mock article titled “Lose Weight or Lose Your Job.”

After reading the article, the women in both groups had to describe what they had just read. Then, each of the women was left in a waiting room for 10 minutes. The waiting room was stocked with a variety of pre-weighted snack foods and candies.

According to the data, the women who read the weight-stigmatizing article ate significantly more food than any other group of women. In a final set of questions, this group also reported feeling significantly less able to control their eating.

In other words, the negative messages that society creates about overweight people aren’t a motivating factor in weight loss. In fact, it seems that they have the opposite effect. It’s also not really a surprise, especially since overeating is a way for some people to feel comfort. Which leads to more weight gain, and then more shame and guilt – and then more overeating as comfort. It’s a vicious cycle.

Instead of shaming ourselves or other people into losing weight, try a diet of inspiration, kindness and love. If you want to make positive changes, let’s start with positive thoughts.

What Skinny People REALLY Think About Fat People At The Gym.

skinnyban20f-2-webThis morning, I noticed a woman signing up for a gym membership at the front desk.

While she was very overweight, the first thing I noticed was her body language. She seemed nervous and uncomfortable – as though she felt out of place.

After putting my clothes away in the locker, I saw her again in the cardio room. I introduced myself and gave her a friendly, reassuring smile. After a minute or two of chatting, she told me that this was her first time in a gym – and that she was literally terrified. She said, “Women like me don’t belong in places like this. I feel like everyone is looking at me and judging me.”

The truth is, she does belong in a gym. We all do. Taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle is important for each and every one of us.

As for people judging her, I suspect it’s the contrary. Most gym goers would be quick to recognize her bravery. And they’re probably impressed by her willingness to make a positive change in her life. Rather than a “look at her” mindset, I bet most people would think “good for her” – if they’re going to think anything at all. In reality, most people are too engrossed in their own workout and their own iPod playlist to really give any of it much thought.

I’m sharing this because I get countless emails from unfit, overweight or obese individuals who are too scared or too intimidated to go to the gym. My point is: Don’t be. Don’t be paralyzed by your fear – which, ultimately, is just another excuse preventing you from creating what you really want.

I think you’ll quickly discover that it’s much scarier in your mind than it is in reality.

Do Overweight People Live Longer?

Do overweight people live longer? Yes, according to a slew of new research.

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewed more than 100 previously published research papers about the link between body weight and mortality risk for nearly 3 million participants. Not surprisingly, obese people had an increased risk of death during the course of the study. But interestingly, overweight (but not obese) individuals had a 6% decreased risk of mortality when compared to their so-called “normal weight” counterparts. The findings held true despite gender, smoking status and region of the world.

With more than 2/3 of Americans overweight, the term “normal weight” is actually a bit misleading. The study used body mass index (BMI) categories set by the Word Health Organization as follows:

  • Underweight = BMI less than 18.
  • Normal weight = BMI between 18.5 and 25
  • Overweight = BMI between 25 and 30
  • Obese = BMI of over 30

The findings aren’t really new, but many people continue to be surprised by the data. Most people don’t expect to find a benefit associated with being overweight, so what’s the real story? Why might overweight people actually live longer?

There are a few theories.

For one, overweight people may get better medical care because they’re either screened more regularly or already seeking treatment for an ailment. This added medical care might give overweight individuals a leg up on their thinner counterparts.

Alternatively, the researchers believe there may be a high chance for overweight people to survive medical emergencies. For example, if you get sick and lose 20 pounds, it helps to have the extra 20 pounds to lose.

Or it could be that the thin people are thin because they’re already sick. It could basically be a case of reverse causation. Perhaps being thin doesn’t make you sick, but being sick makes you thin.

Moreover, the study doesn’t look at quality of life or how healthy thin vs. overweight individuals were at the time of death.

The study certainly isn’t a free pass to gain some extra weight or to eat an extra scoop of ice cream. Instead, it shows us how complicated the link is between our weight, our health and our longevity.

Should Airlines Charge Overweight Passengers a Fuel Surcharge?

Are airlines eying overweight passengers to pad their bottom line?

The other day, I flew from San Diego to my home in Rhode Island.

With six weeks-worth of clothing, filming equipment and speedos, my suitcase was admittedly over-packed. It weighed in at 62 pounds – which exceeded United Airlines’ baggage limit by some twelve pounds. The ticketing agent informed me that, because it would take additional fuel to fly my overweight bag to Rhode Island, I was subject to a $100 baggage fee. This on top of the $25 that I paid to check-in my bag.

Yes, I paid a $100 fee because my bag was twelve pounds overweight. Can you see where I’m going with this?

As of 2009, the average American was twenty-three pounds overweight… and counting. Two thirds of Americans are overweight and nearly a third of Americans are considered obese. And if it takes extra fuel to get my overweight bag to my destination, it must be true for overweight passengers, too.

With my overweight baggage experience in mind, I can’t help but wonder if the airlines are eying overweight passengers with the hopes of padding their bottom line. If a Boeing 747-400 can hold 524 passengers, that’s an average of six tons of extra bodyweight. A fuel surcharge would certainly help cover the costs of keeping all that fat aloft.

Perhaps, in the not-so-distant-future, we’ll have mandatory weigh-ins at the ticketing counters – and overweight passengers will have to pay extra money to get their excess bodyweight to their desired destination.

Think it sounds too outlandish? Think again. In 2009, Ireland’s Ryanair considered implementing a “fat tax” for obese passengers after a public vote on its website. The tax was later dropped because of implementation difficulties. Weighing passengers, the airline concluded, would have the adverse effect of slowing down the check-in process too severely.

Of course, I’m not trying to suggest that a fuel surcharge for overweight passengers makes sense; it would be an embarrassing, marginalizing and dehumanizing policy. But I am suggesting that the airlines are ridiculous. Period.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Davey Wavey’s Before and After.

On more than one occasion, I’ve mentioned that I grew up overweight. Many of you have asked to see a picture – and so, the accompanying photographs illustrate my transformation.

But don’t be fooled: It wasn’t easy.

For many years during my childhood, I struggled with weight problems and an inactive lifestyle. Hell bent on looking like the Abercrombie & Fitch models at the mall, I tried to control my weight through anorexia. Like so many of you, my journey to a healthier lifestyle wasn’t without its challenges.

Built into difficult situations are important lessons – and I learned a lot through my transformation. Over the years, my relationship with my body, food and exercise has evolved. In fact, it continues to evolve.

But this is how I’ve come to understand it.

If you’re passionate about cars, you’d keep your car in good working condition. You’d change the oil, bring it in for inspections and treat it with love and care.

Our bodies are the vehicles through which we experience life. And if you’re passionate about life, you want to keep that vehicle – your body – in optimal condition. A healthy body helps extend longevity, increases your energy and helps guard against debilitating diseases that can hold you back. It makes sense to treat it with love and care.

In other words, a healthy body helps you maximize your life and realize your full potential.

My before and after pictures show the change but not the process; it wasn’t easy. There were challenges, roadblocks and setbacks. There’s no magic solution. But, if you aspire to be the best version of yourself, no endeavor is more deserving of your time, energy and effort.

Davey Wavey Was Fat.

A lot of people are surprised the hear that I was once overweight.

I casually mentioned my own fitness transformation in a recent post, and a number of people expressed interest in knowing more – and learning how I released my excess weight.

So here it goes.

As I very young child, I was healthy and active. But somewhere around second grade, I started really adding on the pounds. As many of us know, pounds have a way of adding up – and I was significantly overweight within a year.

Children can be very mean, especially if you’re an overweight gay kid. By of all the torment, it’s my mom’s teasing that I remember the most. Whenever an obese person would appear in a movie, nearby on a street or on television, my mom would say, “Look! It’s David!” I still remember that, and often still hear those words when I see someone that is significantly overweight.

Such things have a way of eroding self esteem in a young person, and so I decided to change my body in a very unhealthy way. By sixth grade, I was quickly losing weight through anorexia. Looking at pictures of myself in middle school, it’s very clear that I had an eating disorder; my face was gaunt and pale and I looked quite sickly.

As a male, it’s easy (though perhaps less so today) to get away with an eating disorder; many people associate eating disorders with women. In a single year I grew 4 inches but lost 10 pounds, and so the doctor expressed concern. “Are you eating?” he asked. “Yes,” I said. And that was that.

It wasn’t until age 15 or 16 that I finally took a much healthier route. I started exercising and adding muscle mass to my frail and malnourished body. I began to eat again and repair my relationship with food. Step by small step, I became healthier.

When I talk about the challenges of being healthy, I don’t do so theoretically. I’ve been there. It’s the driving reason that I write this blog and develop fitness products to share with you; it gives me great purpose to help others find strength to transform their bodies and their lives. There’s nothing that brings me greater fulfillment than sharing what I know to help others better themselves.

And even today, I’m still learning new things. My body and its needs continue to evolve. My fitness journey and transformation isn’t over. It never is.

Should Fit People Get Discounts on Health Care?

A recent study found that 17% of U.S. health care costs are related to obesity. Our weight problem is costing us – not just in terms of our overall health – but in our pockets, too.

The financial burden of obesity is one that all Americans with health care must bear, regardless of fitness level, as the cost is factored into all our plans. It begs the question: Is this approach fair?

In a country like the United States, would it make sense to offer a health care discount to anyone that could do a pull-up and push-up? Or, in a country like Canada, where the health care is universalized, would it make sense to offer a rebate for fit citizens when they efile their taxes – as they are less likely to incur health care expenses? Perhaps this financial incentive would motivate people to become healthier.

On one hand, unlike conditions like cancer or cystic fibrosis, obesity is avoidable and easily curable. Though many factors go into obesity (it is often deeply psychological), changes can be made both on the inside and out that result in a reversal of the condition.

But on the other hand, providing a discount or tax break to fit people would favor wealthier individuals; there is a strong link between obesity and low-income communities. Low income individuals often have greater barriers to physical activity and less access to healthy foods and supermarkets. In other words, such a discount or tax break for people would further impair the people with the least.

So what do you think? Should the extra financial burden of obesity be carried just by the people causing it? Or should we all bear the financial impact of obesity? Does giving a discount or tax break to healthy individuals make sense, or is it a socially unjust incentive?