Archive for the tag - obesity

My Boyfriend Is Making Me Fat.

Dear Davey,

My entire life, I was always very lean. Until I met my boyfriend. In just 2 years, I’ve gained more than 30 pounds with no end in sight. I’m officially overweight. What do I do?


b7b225c4dddf23bc08eb45f6b5381930Hey Keith,

While we might joke that relationships make us “fat and happy,” there may be some truth to the age-old adage. According to one poll, 62% of respondents report gaining 14 pounds or more after starting a relationship. And a frequently referenced study from the New England Journal of Medicine found that having an obese spouse makes you 37% more likely to become obese yourself.

And it makes sense. When we’re in a relationship and off the market, we might become less concerned with our appearance. For some people, this might be an excuse to slack off on exercise or indulge in unhealthy foods. Maybe we make more time for our partner, and less time for ourselves. Or maybe our partner is an enabler, and we adopt his or her unhealthy eating habits. Instead of the usual salad, we opt for the pizza.

But let’s be clear: Unless there’s a feeding tube down your throat or you’re being held prisoner, no one can make you fat without your permission. All of us, regardless of relationship status, must take responsibility for what goes into our mouths and the exercise we get. We must take responsibility for our health.

The reality is, being off the market isn’t an excuse to skip exercise. Beyond looking a certain way, exercise is a necessary component to a healthy and productive life. And while it’s great to make time for the people we love, we have more to give others when we prioritize ourselves. If your partner orders a pizza, you can still choose something healthier. It’s not an excuse.

As a human being with free will, don’t use your partner as an excuse; take responsibility for your choices and subsequent weight gain. Understand that through smarter food choices and through increased movement, you can reverse the trend - and perhaps even inspire change in your partner’s lifestyle.

Your boyfriend didn’t make you fat. You made yourself overweight. But by utilizing that same power of choice, you can also make yourself healthier and fit.


P.S. If you need help getting started, I’d recommend downloading Davey Wavey’s Bootcamp Workout. With a series of at-home workout programs, you can lose weight and build muscle.

Am I Too Old To Get Back In Shape?

Dear Davey,

I’m 41. I’ve battled obesity for the majority of my life. I hit 200 pounds when I was 12, and 300 pounds by the time I turned 30. When I was 36 I decided to turn things around, and I lost 132 pounds through diet and exercise. I was so proud of myself.

I managed to keep that weight off for almost four years, then last year I suffered several personal crisis in a row, and let things slip. I’ve gained back 78 pounds of the weight that I worked so hard to get rid of.

I am so depressed and angry with myself for allowing it back on. I also don’t feel like I can push myself like I used to.

Can I get back to what I was at before? I know that our bodies change as we age, so I’m worried it’s going to be harder. It’s only been five years, but I feel so much older this time and I know people lose muscle mass with age. For the best results, should I put more focus on cardio or weight training?



Dear Dwight,

For best results, it’s not about cardio or weight training. It’s not even about age. It’s about attitude.

In the paragraphs above, you outline a number of excuses. In a nutshell, they include:

  • I’m too old.
  • It’s harder.
  • People lose muscle with age.

Excuses don’t create results. Instead, as the saying goes, excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure. As such, let me destroy each of your excuses, one by one.

First, you said that you’re too old. I’m reminded of a elderly man that I met in San Diego. Jogging along on the treadmill next to me, he told me he was 91. With his World War II cap proudly on display, he outran almost everyone else at the gym. If he’s not too old, you’re not too old.

Second, you said it’s harder. Yes, getting into shape requires energy and effort. But do you know what’s harder than working out? Dealing with the effects of obesity, coping with internalized anger and dying of a heart attack at age 50.

Third, you said that people lose muscle with age. You’re right, to an extent. The condition to which you refer is sarcopenia; as people age, skeletal muscle mass and strength can be lost. But what’s also true is that sarcopenia can be prevented - and even reversed - through physical activity.

You could probably come up with more excuses. But I promise you that I’ve already heard them. And I can also promise you that they’re equally destroyable. So let’s save ourselves the time and cut to the chase.

The truth is, your greatest obstacle is yourself.

Instead of becoming increasingly frustrated, recognize that your existing problem can only be solved with a new perspective. The solution isn’t a workout plan or a diet. It’s a new way of looking at things and a new attitude.

You have an opportunity.

Through 41 years of life and your weight journey, you’ve learned a lot. Tap into that wisdom and create a new 40s for yourself. And then a new 50s. And so on. Build on your life experience not for declining health but for a renewed commitment to fitness expressed through an active lifestyle.


P.S. Because losing weight is about more than diet and exercise, I recommend downloading Davey Wavey’s Weight Loss Program to create truly lasting results.

This Is What The Average Body Looks Like.

There’s no such thing as normal. But average is another cup of tea entirely. Using huge sets of available data, researchers have calculated the statistics for the average American 30-something male.

He’s 5′ 9″ tall and has a 39″ waist. His body mass index (BMI) is 29, just one short of the medical definition of obese. Based on the data, here’s what this average American male looks like:


It’s no secret that the average American male is becoming increasingly round. Just 50 years ago, the obesity rate for men was just over 10%. Now, the obesity rate is around 30%. Yikes.

Of course, the average American male isn’t alone in the world. He has some buddies from other countries. Here’s what they look like and how they measure up:

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 11.14.15 AM

From left to right, it’s the US, Japan, Netherlands and France.

In Japan, the average BMI is 23.7. In the Netherlands, it’s 25.2. In France, 25.55.

The average American male, especially when compared to his counterparts, can serve as a reminder about the importance of exercise and nutrition. And who wants to be average, anyway? By moving more and eating smarter, you can certainly beat average - and dramatically improve the quality of your life.

What do you think of the average American male?

Are Americans About To Get… Skinnier?

fat-americaHere’s a headline that you probably didn’t expect: Americans may be on the verge of getting… skinnier.

That is, according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that found Americans ate 118 fewer calories per day in 2009 and 2010 compared to four years earlier. The study also found that Americans are consuming more home-cooked meals and eating less in restaurants.

Of course, there’s also lots of fine print.

For one, fewer calories consumed doesn’t necessarily mean that Americans will lose weight. Weight loss occurs when we eat fewer calories than we burn - and this study is looking at only one end of the equation. We’d also need to look at the daily calorie expenditure of Americans to get a clearer picture.

Second, obesity rates are still very high. In 2009 and 2010, 36% of Americans were obese compared to just 15% in 1980. But after decades of increases, the rate has held level through 2012. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has started to see a decline in some childhood obesity rates.

Third, according to the researchers, it appears that the economy was a factor. A decrease in restaurant eating and calorie consumption may be more the result of less money rather than healthier habits.

Nonetheless, these small but substantive shifts may be the result of greater public awareness and pressure on food manufacturers and the restaurant industry to make healthier options more readily available. If this is true, we may actually start to see a decline in obesity rates moving forward through the next decade. It’s too early to tell and we’ve got a long way to go, but these indicators are certainly optimistic.


Do Genes Make You Fat?

ObeseFamilyCartoonDear Davey,

Most of the people in my family are overweight or obese. When I look at my relatives, I can’t help but think that there must be a genetic component to me being overweight. Is it possible that I’m just genetically destined to be fat?


Hey Chris,

Thanks for the honest question.

economix-23OECDobesity-custom1Over the last several decades, obesity rates in this country - and many others - have risen dramatically (see chart). Clearly, this huge increase can’t be explained entirely by genetics.

As I’ve said before, weight loss, gain or maintenance is determined by calories in and calories out. If we take in fewer calories than we burn, we lose weight. If we take in more calories than we burn, we gain weight. And if we take in the same amount of calories that we burn, we’re in a neutral state of maintenance.

Though our genes may have some influence on our predisposition to obesity, all of us can manipulate both ends of the calories in/calories out equation to reach a healthier weight. On the “calories in” side of the equation, it means eating healthy, clean and nourishing foods in appropriate quantities. On the “calories out” side of the equation, we need to move more and get active. To make weight loss happen, the caloric total of the foods we eat must be less than the total calories burned.

Clearly, this is a vast oversimplification of the process - and, indeed, there are many other factors involved in weight loss. Some of these factors are emotional and psychological - and some of them can be difficult to deal with.

But to answer your question, the Harvard School of Public Health notes that:

Only a very small percentage of people have such a strong genetic predisposition that they will be obese no matter how hard they try. Even people who are genetically predisposed to obesity can reduce their risk of chronic disease by eating a healthful diet and staying active.

In my humble opinion, it’s far more likely that your relatives are similarly overweight because they’ve adopted similar habits. We know that obesity is contagious; a study by Harvard researchers found that “having four obese friends doubled people’s chance of becoming obese compared to people with no obese friends,” and that the more obese people you come into contact with, the more your risk for obesity increases.

In other words, we tend to pick up the habits of the people around us.


Is Juice Healthier Than Soda?

Dear Davey,

I always assumed that drinking juice was healthier than drinking soda. Due to my dislike of water, I tend to drink huge amounts of it. Is drinking juice really any healthier than soda? Or am I just replacing one unhealthy beverage with another.


Most fruit juice’s are really just soda’s evil twin.

First and foremost, a recent study found that the average “fruit” drink contains less than 10 percent of actual fruit juice. The rest is just sugar, water, flavoring, coloring and a few added nutrients.

Second, even 100% real fruit juice beverages are nothing to celebrate. They are a very calorie-dense food product. A half cup of apple juice, for example, contains as many calories as an entire apple - but without the fiber that makes it both healthy and filling. You’re left with a sugary beverage that’s marginally healthier than soda. Sugar consumption, regardless of the form in which it is consumed, has been linked to everything from heart disease to diabetes to cardiovascular disease and liver disease.

And don’t be fooled by clever packaging. “No sugar added” doesn’t mean, for example, that a product is low in sugar. Serving sizes are also often manipulated. Though the package my list the serving as a half cup, consider how much juice you’ll actually drink in a glass. Your actual portion may be 2 or 3 times larger.

Moreover, the sweetness of fruit juices can be addicting. When you consume sugary foods or drinks, you feed your sweet tooth - and then crave more sweetness. In many ways, sugar is like a drug - and fruit juice contributes to that negative cycle. In fact, a 2009 study concluded that sugar bingeing causes withdrawal symptoms and cravings much like addictive drugs.

When you’re reaching for a glass of fruit juice, you’re not doing your body a favor; water is the preferred beverage of choice. Having said that, if you can’t get yourself to drink water, try these tips:

  1. Water down your juice. Doing so will cut the calories and sugar per serving, and you’ll still get much of the flavor.
  2. Try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to your water. You won’t be adding calories - but you’ll get an extra kick.
  3. Switch to vegetable juice. Vegetable juices tend to be lower in sugar, but check the label.

Most people recognize that soda is an unhealthy choice. I’d recommend thinking of most fruit juices in the same way. The bottom line is that you’re certainly not doing your health, your body or your fitness goals any favors by drinking fruit juice.

Video: TV Anchor Responds to Attack on Her Weight.

In LaCrosse, Wisconsin, a local news anchor named Jennifer Livingston received a nasty email from a viewer about her appearance. The email reads as follows:

It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Jennifer responded to the email on air. That response, which has received millions of views in just the last day, has since gone viral. Clearly, it has struck a chord.

Take a look:

Yes, obesity is an epidemic in this country. And yes, promoting a healthy lifestyle is an important responsibility. But the suggestion that Jennifer is an unfit role model simply because of her excess weight, in my opinion, falls flat.

As I’ve said before, scales measure one thing: Pounds. They don’t measure your value as a human being and certainly not the content of one’s character or a person’s contributions to the community. In a world that too often tells us otherwise, this viewer’s comments become part of a destructive dialogue.

I’d love to know what you think. Do you think that this viewer’s email was uncalled for and unnecessary, or do you think he has a point? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Feeling Fat Makes You Fat.

This morning, I came across an absolutely fascinating study by researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. According to the study, normal weight teenagers who perceive themselves as fat are more likely to become overweight adults.

Back in the mid 1990s, researchers surveyed nearly 1200 teenage boys and girls with normal bodyweights. Roughly ten years later, the researchers followed up with the now-adult participants. While half of the participants still had normal bodyweights, the researchers found some interesting insights about the now-overweight individuals:

  • 59% of the girls and 65% of the boys who perceived themselves to be fat as teenagers grew up to be overweight according to their body mass index (BMI).
  • 78% of the girls and 55% of the boys who perceived themselves to be fat as teenagers grew up to be overweight according to the circumference of their waist.

In contrast:

  • 31% of the girls and 29% of the boys who perceived themselves to be fat as teenagers grew up to be overweight according to their body mass index (BMI).
  • 55% of the girls and 48% of the boys who perceived themselves to be fat as teenagers grew up to be overweight according to the circumference of their waist.

In other words, far more of the normal weight teens who felt fat (even though they weren’t) actually became overweight as adults. In fact, their BMI averaged .88 higher and their waistlines were 3.46 cm larger. But why?

Researchers speculate that teens who felt fat were more stressed than their counterparts. Since stress is associated with weight gain, this could offer one an explanation. Moreover, these teens may have tried to lose their perceived fat by skipping meals and starvation - a strategy that ultimately results in weight gain.

Personally, I think the answer could be a bit deeper. If we have a good, healthy relationship with our body, then we’re more likely to do things that honor it - like eat a healthy diet and engage in exercise. If, on the other hand, you don’t like your body and use negative words against it - like calling it fat - then that relationship can deteriorate and lead to unhealthy habits.

And let’s not forget the power of visualization. By visualizing something, you can help bring it into reality. If you see yourself winning the gold medal or lifting a certain amount of weight or just eating your vegetables, you can breath life into your thoughts. Perhaps, by seeing themselves as fat, these individuals subconsciously cultivated habits that made their belief an reality.

Obviously, it will take subsequent research and data to draw stronger conclusions - but, in the meantime, this study is great food for thought.

What do you think? Are you surprised by the results of this study?

2nd Heart Attack Grill Victim Collapses Mid-Meal.

Back in October, I posted about the newly-opened Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas. The restaurant celebrates gluttony by featuring such menu items as the quadruple bypass burger, flatliner fries (deep fried in pure lard) and milkshakes made with butter. You can even buy a pack of unfiltered cigarettes with which to enjoy your meal. And, if you’re over 350 pounds, you eat for free.

The restaurant is trying to make a jock about America’s obesity epidemic by celebrating overindulgence - but, personally, I don’t see the humor. With millions of Americans dying of heart disease each year (it’s the leading cause of death in the United States), it’s not really a laughing matter. We don’t joke about cancer, suicide, accidents or strokes - so why are obesity and heart disease the exception?

All that aside, just over a year ago, the restaurant’s 575-pound spokesperson died of obesity-related illness. Then, in February, a man collapsed of a heart attack while eating his meal. This week, less than two months after the previous incident, a woman in her 40s collapsed mid-meal. She was consuming a double bypass burger, drinking a margarita and smoking cigarettes.

It’s worth noting there’s no evidence that eating unhealthy food can trigger an immediate heart attack. Nonetheless, it hasn’t stopped people from debating: Who’s at fault? Though the woman doesn’t plan on suing, is the restaurant to blame? Or is it a matter of eater-beware?

Personally, I think the Heart Attack Grill is a terribly toxic establishment. But I don’t think the owners are to blame; individuals need to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. If I make the decision to speed - and, as a result, get in a debilitating car accident - then I wouldn’t turn around and sue the car company. The decision to speed was mine.

What we eat is a choice. Smoking is a choice. How we treat our body - and whether or not we make time to exercise - is a choice. All of these choices have consequences - and, for those, I think all of us need to take ownership.

But what do you think? Who is at fault? The woman? The restaurant? Both? Let me know in the comments below!

Controversial Obesity Ads: Is It The Wrong Message?

The other day, I came across a controversial anti-obesity campaign that targets Georgian families - where some 40% of children are either overweight or obese. With a million advertising budget, commercials and billboards featuring overweight kids are being run across the state. The campaign features tag lines like “it’s hard to be a little girl when you’re not.”

It begs the question: Is the campaign effective? Or does it send the wrong message?

On one hand, the campaign is getting a lot of media attention and publicity. Almost all of the major news outlets have run stories about the controversial campaign. People are talking - and the obesity epidemic is getting a bigger share of the spotlight.

But on the other hand, I don’t think you can inspire lasting lifestyle changes through shame. If you don’t feel good about your body - or your relationship with your body is badly damaged - it’s much harder to make decisions that honor it like exercise and nutrition. Lasting lifestyle transformations occur through a stronger, more loving relationship with our body - and that’s not something that this campaign helps to inspire.

Some might even argue that by infusing children with even more shame and insecurities, this campaign does more harm than good. Rather than motivate children and parents to change their habits, even more people may turn to food as a way to cope with the guilt and pain.

Ultimately, time will tell if this $25 million campaign is money well spent - and if it does, in fact, make a significant dent in Georgia’s obesity problem.

In the meantime, what do you think? Does this campaign go too far? Or do you think it’s what people need to hear? Let me know in the comments below.