I’m Not Fat, I’m Big Boned!

According to CNN, Georgia has paid nearly 31 million dollars on various weight loss surgeries for 1,577 people under the state’s insurance plan.  After spending that large chunk of money over 2 1/2 years, the state decided to eliminate the surgical weight loss benefits for all members starting next year.  The cuts are part of an attempt to balance the state budget and seems to me to make more sense than cutting things such as dental or vision coverage.  CNN’s article highlighted the story of Alice McCormack, who failed every diet out there and now carried 305 pounds on her 5 foot 2 frame.  She now plans to wait for Medicare to kick in for her in 4 years so they will cover the $25,000 cost of surgery and hopes that it will rid her of her asthma, arthritis, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and gastric reflux, conditions that are either caused or made worse by obesity.

It’s no secret that this country is struggling with the issue of obesity in people of all ages and walks of life.  Restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory encourage overeating with their name alone; I’ve never been without hearing someone say “you HAVE to get cheesecake, look where we are!”  Places like McDonald’s make it easy to pack on the pounds with their quick and cheap food that is heavy in calories.  At work, we have pitch-ins and birthday cakes and all sorts of celebrations centered around food; you often feel obligated to participate so you don’t offend coworkers.  I can’t tell you how much food I’ve dropped into the trash can after having people insist I have some cake or fudge or a meatball sub.  At home, we’ve become more sedentary; online gaming and social networking decreases the time our ass has to leave the couch to interact with the world and it’s easy to go through an entire bag of Doritos while lost in the world of Modern Warfare or Farmville.  We’ve reconditioned ourselves to expect larger meals than our body actually needs, and as a result we begin to look a bit fluffier than normal.

I sympathize with Alice McCormack and others like her.  I understand that some people struggle with weight loss and some have issues genetically that make them susceptible to weight gain.  I also know that the reason a person gains weight and the reason they lose it is usually very simple.  I fully support Georgia’s decision to cut coverage on weight loss surgeries because in general, it’s preventable nearly all of the time.  Obesity has become such a big problem because society as a whole has done little else but make overeating the norm.  The human body isn’t meant to process over 600 calories per meal for an adult, yet my favorite chicken dish at Applebee’s is pushing 1200 calories, the equivalent of 2 meals and nearly 2/3rds of what I should eat for the entire day.  We might be gaining new intelligence and technology as the years pass, but we’re also gaining a lot of fat.

For over a year now, my husband and I have been counting calories.  It resulted in losing 10 pounds a month for 3 months myself and my husband losing almost 80 pounds within the same time period.  We gained weight because we consumed more than our bodies needed to function and we lose weight because we consumed less, causing our bodies to burn off the fat we’d stored away.  You can’t eat 2,500 calories unless you’re putting your body through 2,500 calories worth of work for the day.  It’s amazingly simple!  The problem is, people don’t want to do the work.  When I lost the first 15 pounds or so, I was approached by a coworker who had a daughter trying to lose weight.  He kept trying to get me to recommend a pill she should take, I kept telling him “vitamins and restrict calories,” to which he would respond “that is too hard for her.”  I gave up pretty quickly after that.

Counting calories is tough in the beginning, but so is Weight Watchers or hitting the gym twice a week.  It’s definitely not tougher than surgery and I would think that any sane person would want to avoid invasive surgery if at all possible.  It seems to me that the appeal of surgery is so high because it takes the least amount of effort from the person seeking it.  Counting calories means I need to look up nutrition facts before eating out, read facts while grocery shopping, and track my intake every day.  Weight Watchers does it with points.  Working out is exactly that:  work.  Surgery on the other hand is done by a medical team, who hold your hand before and after to ensure you’re taking care of.  The rapid weight loss people experience is greater than what can be achieved with other weight loss methods.  People have even gone so far as to gain more weight so they qualify for the surgery.

I believe Ricky Gervais said it best:  “Well, it’s their fault they’re fat. They ate too much. Those are the rules. I got fat because I ate too much. I knew why I was getting fat. I didn’t think I had a tumour up my backside. I thought it was because I ate cheese and pizza every fucking night.  I knew what I was doing. So there’s no point going round feeling sorry for them.”  In a separate interview, he said:  “I really don’t know why a doctor under a Hippocratic oath takes the risk of something going badly wrong, sometimes with general anaesthetic, because someone can’t be bothered to go for a fucking run.  They have bits sliced off and tied up and sucked out. I want to say to them, You lazy fucking fat pig. Just go for a run and stop eating burgers. You might fucking die.”

Harsh words, sure, but he’s right.  You don’t accidentally get fat, it happens because you eat more than your body needs and you do so for an extended amount of time.  Medications can cause some weight gain, sure, but they’re not going to make you morbidly obese if you’re eating properly.  It doesn’t make sense for so many people to be getting various weight loss surgeries when it isn’t truly medically necessary.  If you’re 1000 pounds and bedridden and physically unable to exercise and control the food that comes to your home, then I can see you qualifying.  If you’re like Alice McCormick and obese but still able to be active and function, you shouldn’t qualify.  The reason diets don’t work for people is because they don’t allow them to.  They want instant results and they want to achieve those results with ease.  When it doesn’t happen, they give up.  Temptation is also a huge factor; it’s hard to say no to that piece of triple chocolate layer cake, especially when everyone else is having a slice.  Self-sabotage is a huge reason people fail at their weight loss programs.

Call me judgmental if you will, but I’ve seen the difference first hand between obesity issues requiring medical intervention and those requiring some salad and power walking.  Too many people are getting fat because life is just easier to live when you don’t have to be so careful about what you consume.  The fatter we get, the more medical issues come up.  We use these medical issues, such as diabetes or heart problems, to justify getting surgery to assist us in losing weight.  The thing is, the heart problem comes from the strain you put on it with all those extra pounds; you did this to yourself and now you want someone else to clean up your mess for you.  No one sits around feeling sorry for the meth addict who caused all his teeth to rot away, yet we feel sorry for the obese population.  And why, because they couldn’t say no to a triple Whopper?  Because they made the conscious decision to eat Kit Kats and ice cream rather than crackers and yogurt?  Obesity is not a sickness, it’s not a medical condition that people contract or inherit, it’s something you do you yourself, a way you damage your own body.

I view obesity the same way I view alcoholics and drug addicts.  These are people hooked on food, unable to turn down tasty treats, unwilling to change because they like their lives the way they are.  They don’t need surgery, they need assistance.  AA gives sponsors to recovering alcoholics, why don’t doctor’s give an obese patient a sponsor to assist them in dieting and exercise?  Why is surgery the go-to option?  Hard work to accomplish a goal, such as weight loss, shouldn’t become a thing of the past.  Just because we have the technology to easily change a person’s body to facilitate weight loss doesn’t mean it’s the right decision to be making, especially not as much as we do.


About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on November 3, 2011, in Food, Life, News, Weight loss and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

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