I like to consider myself a logical, well-read, educated person. I'm capable of assessing any personal problem and tackling it in an efficient and aggressive manner. That's certainly true for the majority of the problems I’ve faced in my life, with the exception of weight management. Yes, I've fought and lost many weight battles, and I've paid a high cost of being overweight as a result.
My story isn’t uncommon among those that battle long-term weight management problems. You can read more of my background in my About Ellis page. However, the big take-away is that I’ve spent more than 2 decades trying numerous popular diets only to either:
1) fail miserably, or
2) lose a little weight and gain it all back plus a few extra pounds.
The total cost of being overweight is hard to calculate. That's becasue it's really difficult to determine “what could have been” had things been different. However, there are plenty of “what have been” costs that can be identified.
Health Impact of Being Overweight
The health impact of being overweight is well established, so I won't dive too deep here. I believe that many overweight people understand, to some extent, the health impacts being overweight has on their bodies. This type of stuff is usually covered in any wellness visit to a Doctor.
However, to summarize some of the health concerns, there are a slew of diseases and disorders associated with being overweight, like:
- heart disease
- some cancers
- respiratory disease
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- sleep disorders
Then there's also the impact to the body's mobility and joints, which can really impact quality of life.
All of these conditions are very serious and should be more than enough motivation to make a change. And the longer you're overweight, and the more overweight you are, the greater the risks. For more information of the health consequences with being overweight check out the CDC article: Consequences of Obesity.
Of course, these health impacts tend to be overlooked when you're young. Nevertheless, the abuse we put our bodies through in our young years we will eventually pay for in our middle-aged years and beyond. That bill eventually comes due.
Although many people are aware of the health costs, there are other costs that aren't so obvious.
Missed Experiences – Less Going Out with Family and Friends, Fewer Pictures
A weight problem can steal your health and energy, there's no doubt about that. That's certainly ENOUGH of a cost to warrant action. However, it can also steal a good portion of life experiences as well, and many times we aren’t even conscious of those finer moments that are lost.
For example, I usually cringe when I think of all the times I didn’t participate in an important event because of my weight, or all the times I planned on participating in some future activity/event with the stipulation that I had to lose x-number of pounds. I even remember pulling out a calendar and figuring out how many pounds I needed to lose each week to hit my goal by the event date. Sadly, I always failed and usually didn’t go.
For me, and many like me, there comes a point where the side-effects of a weight problem graduate from being a slightly uncomfortable feeling that you carry with you each day, to a totally uncomfortable feeling that you let keep you away from enjoying things.
It’s a vicious circle. The lack of activity drives the eating, the extra eating drives the weight gain, the weight gain drives the physical pain and inactivity. Yes, this is how weight can get out of control for some people.
Difficult to Recognize the True Cost of Being Overweight
To make matters worse, it isn’t always easy to recognize the magnitude of a weight problem as it’s happening to you. One difficult thing about weight gain is that we tend to imagine ourselves looking the same in our mind’s “eye.”
You could gain 100 pounds but in your minds eye you're just a little chubbier. Granted, you may have to go out and buy some bigger clothing, but once you’re in the bigger clothing, you start to feel like your old “skinnier” self again. This is dangerous!
However, an uncontrollable weight problem will reach a tipping point. Then it will go from being a slightly uncomfortable feeling to a “damn, this is kinda embarrassing” feeling. Maybe it's after a few iterations of up-sizing your clothing, or taking too many unflattering pictures, or maybe even some crude comments from family and friends. At some point the real world's perception of you will collide with your own perception.
Once that tipping point is reached, the backing away begins. The intention may be temporary, with the goal being to quickly drop some weight, then get back to the real world and maybe act like nothing every happened. The problem is, “temporary” sometimes turns into months and even years.
Taking Control of Your Body Weight
Gaining weight is a slippery slope that can easily get away from us, and some of us have a steeper slope. We also have a tendency to be wrong with our body image. If any of this relates to you, you're probably wondering how do you fight this cost of being overweight? How do you take back your health and your life?
For a start, you must stop gaining weight. Forget about losing weight for the time being, take a small step first by learning how to stop gaining weight.
Most people with a weight problem dive head-first into a diet that's far too extreme to sustain, especially given where they're starting. Sure, they'd drop all kinds of weight if they could only remain on the diet, but they can't. Unfortunately, this type of effort usually ends with a weight gain, not weight loss.
To take control of a problem that may have been out of control for years requires sustainable changes. Extreme “quick-fix” diets and weight loss programs are likely what fueled the problem to what it is today.
STOP GAINING WEIGHT! Commit yourself to this goal and see if you can maintain weight over time, then take another small step and target weight reduction.This slow approach is much more sustainable than extreme diets.
This is the exact strategy and mindset I used to stop my weight gain and lose 100 pounds in less than 1 year.
Read all about this strategy in the following 2 articles articles:
My article on losing weight with sustainable changes: Losing 100 Pounds with Sustainable Diet Changes
Another highly recommended article of mine: A Fat Guy’s New Perspective on Calories and Weight Loss