Friday, August 8, 2008

So I'm a fat chunk. So what?

I think it's interesting being in my position sometimes. I tend to be an overly emotional hypersensitive person who cries at the drop of a hat. But when I can separate from my feelings and look at things objectively (even clinically, you might say) I think it is interesting to see a certain view of humanity.

But let's be more specific here. I'm refering to being overweight. In the last few weeks, I have talked to SEVEN different people who have all said the same thing to me. "It would be healthy for you to at least go on walks."

Some of these people were my coworkers who were all horrified when I said that I lived close to the library but still took the bus to work and back. Walking to work is so healthy, they insisted, and it would do me good to get the exercise.

Others were neighbors, close friends, and even inlaws of mine, who all love me and want to help me to be healthy and to overcome my health problems. In their minds, they are being kind and trying to nudge me to actually take care of myself because everyone knows its bad to be overweight.

But really they were being cruel and making assumptions without checking facts and generalizing all people into certain rules that should apply to everyone.

My reactions were not the same in all of these encounters. Sometimes I tried explaining about the complexities of trying to keep my blood sugar high enough to feel good at work. Sometimes I rebuttled that I had actually stopped taking one of my medicines completely because I was doing such an amazing job controlling my diabetes that I didn't need it. The truth that I have been exercising faithfully at least five times a week (sometimes three or four miles in a day) just seemed pointless to tell people who clearly believed that they already knew about my habits. The fact that I have dropped my caloric intake to less than 900 calories a day and that I eat fresh fruits and vegetables as more than half of my diet now also seemed pointless to say. Obviously with a body like mine, it is easy for everyone else to jump to conclusions.

But own intense personal struggle doesn't seem to pay off, does it? The Law of the Harvest says that what you sow, you shall reap. But I find myself sowing all day long the habits of good health and still weighing over 200 pounds and dealing daily with the judgements of almost everyone around me. Why is it human nature to do this? Why do people see others and decide that they know things about them? Why?

I understand, at least in some degree, why I am overweight. It has absolutely nothing to do with being lazy or eating too much fat or not taking care of myself. It has everything to do with the fact that I had untreated diabetes for years. Without getting technical on you, a Type 2 diabetic's cells do not recieve the nutrients that they need throughout their entire body. This throws the body into a panic state in which it believes that it is starving to death. Through chemical signals and whatnot, the body is determined to hold onto and store everything it possibly can. So I got fat. And even though I know the crisis is over-- my medicine helps my cells to take in the sugar they need-- my body isn't so sure of that yet. What if this is a fluke and I will be starving again soon, my body thinks; it is safer to store the fat than risk it.

So, this is what I'm thinking. When we judge people for any reason, we really may not know the whole story. And let's face it that we can't know if we don't ask. It might seem mean to ask an overweight person about their weight, but from personal experience, I can say that it is much meaner to assume that you already know. And it just might be a relief for the overweight person to talk about their health rather than having everyone else tell them. And this principle goes for anyone we might be tempted to judge, for any reason.

Ask. It can't hurt.