Dear friends and family…
And complete strangers in the grocery store…
And purveyors of exercise programs…
And friends on Facebook…
And friends of friends on Facebook…
And sellers of diet pills, nutritionals, and protein drinks…
And random people who stop by my blog…
Please stop giving me weight loss advice.
I’m actually less concerned about my you bugging me about my weight than I am concerned the stigma attached to people who are overweight.
Hear me out.
Here’s something you may not realize: weight loss is so, so, so, so, so, so very much more complicated than you think it is.
“Well, no, it’s not,” you say, “You eat healthy food, you move your body, and you lose weight.”
So, so, so wrong.
The above statement presupposes that you have a healthy body to begin with.
Without a healthy body that simply will not work!
I was born sick.
I’ve been sick most of my life in varying degrees, and my body has never —I repeat, never— worked properly.
Here’s an interesting little factoid: I spent two years having salads and meat for every single meal and exercising regularly, and I still gained weight.
“How on earth can that happen?” you ask.
My body is broken.
I cannot lose weight until I fix the problems in my body.
Most of these problems are issues of my genetics which has predisposed me to certain conditions, many of them autoimmune related.
And none of them are my fault.
I have spent the better part of the last two decades being obsessed with food –not obsessed with eating food, but obsessed with what I should be eating and trying to put the right foods into my mouth.
I am absolutely not overweight as a result of not eating healthy.
In fact, I think that the only reason I’m still alive is because of how careful I’ve been about my health and what I put in my body.
I have exercised until I nearly passed out and couldn’t walk anymore and still didn’t lose weight.
Here’s something that baffles people: you know those two years when I was eating salads with protein at every meal?
I got sicker.
Way, way, way sicker.
Believe me, you do not have to tell me that this is not the way it is supposed to work.
I got so sick from all that “good eating” that my diet was reduced to only four things I could eat: ground beef from one local meat shop, chicken broth (but not bone broth), kidney beans, and occasionally some cheddar cheese.
If I deviated from the above four food items, I would start hemorrhaging rectally –and sometimes vaginally.
It’s frankly terrifying when there’s blood coming from all kinds of places it really shouldn’t be.
It’s been going on for over 2 years!
That doesn’t even begin to explain the pain I experience.
I have no choice but to adhere to a very strict diet of those few things I can eat without hemorrhaging.
Now, if diet and exercise isn’t the answer –and I promise you it isn’t regardless of what our culture believes– then what is?
I currently have over 20 medical diagnoses, and those diagnoses do not explain all my symptoms.
What would help me lose weight is to accurately diagnose and treat the conditions which are causing the chaos in my body to begin with.
Here’s an uncomfortable truth: it is possible that we might not find diagnoses or treatments.
I could even die from my conditions.
But, it’s not from lack of trying to get better.
I have a whole team of medical doctors trying to come up with answers and treatments for my puzzling ailments.
If people who specialize in autoimmune diseases have to confer with other autoimmune disease specialists to come up with a viable treatment plan for me because of the extreme complexities of my illness, what makes you think that your diet is the answer?
I’m so tired of being told that if I just did this diet or that diet then I would lose weight.
No, actually, I’ll lose weight when my endocrine system is able to function in a healthy way and my immune system stops attacking itself!
I’m sorry to burst everyone’s bubble but it’s not as simple as diet and exercise.
I repeat: it’s not as simple as diet and exercise.
And no, I’m not doing your diet… because it will land me in the hospital.
What I wish healthy people realized is this: the majority of people you see around you who are overweight are far more conscious of their health than you are.
But, you have a healthy body, and they do not.
This is, for the most part, due to their genetics and not due to them not caring, or eating too much sugar, or whatever you think causes their problems.
That is a lie that sick people fight against their whole lives.
If you know an overweight person, most likely they are sick —even if they don’t know it and haven’t been accurately diagnosed.
People often don’t get medical help because, even if they have some health problem, they –and everyone around them– just assumes that they aren’t trying hard enough to eat healthy and exercise.
More than one time, I’ve had people tell me that if I would just stopped eating at McDonald’s I would lose weight.
Here’s the reality: I wouldn’t even dream of eating at McDonald’s unless I was suicidal, because that a sure-fire way for me to end up hospitalized!
Gradually, over the last 18 months, my doctors and I have found ways to increase the foods I’m able to eat to about 20 items.
So, I’m not really the person to complain to if you have to remove a single item like gluten from your diet –I might be slightly less compassionate than the average person.
I just wish people would stop acting as if it’s simple.
Like if I just did this one thing than all my health and weight problems would go away.
Do you think I’ve not considered every single possibility available to me?
My life may depend on my choices!
Don’t you think I wish there was one simple answer that would solve all my health problems?
But, it’s not that simple.
And, my weight itself is not a health problem.
My weight is a symptom of my health problems.
I have come to grips with my weight and am focusing on being healthy which is honestly a better goal than being thin.
Even if I lost a bunch of weight by some miracle pill or liposuction or whatever, it isn’t going to fix the problem that caused that weight to begin with.
Please, don’t assume it’s simple.
Please, don’t assume you know more about my condition than I do or than my doctors do.
And for heaven’s sake, don’t assume I’m not trying every single reasonable thing I can to get better.
But, 99.9999% of the suggestions I get are things that I’m either severely allergic to, that I’ve already tried, or that would send me to the hospital.
If you feel the need to do something, instead of giving unsolicited advice, pray for me.
Pray that I would have strength and be pain-free so I can be active and take care of my family.
Pray that my immune reactions –to, well, basically, everything– would minimize.
Pray that my doctors have wisdom to diagnose and treat my conditions.
Pray that my family continues to have the money for my treatments since we lost our insurance and my treatments wouldn’t even be covered if we got new insurance (it’s a long story).
If you feel generous and feel like you just need to do something, you could even donate money to help with my medical expenses.
But, in the name of all that’s good and holy, please stop sending me links to new diet plans and trying to sell me your shakes and pills.
If you do send something to me, please do not be shocked and offended when I do not respond enthusiastically but instead send you the link to this post.
And, please stop viewing every overweight person as a slob who doesn’t care instead of a real person who is trying to overcome his or her genetics and health complications.
Overweight people are –with very few exceptions– ill people.
They shouldn’t be objects of ridicule and criticism.
They should be given understanding and compassion.
There: that’s my tirade about magic pills and diet plans.
I don’t mean to offend anyone, but this is the honest truth about what I know and how I feel.
Be thankful if your genetics has not predisposed you to live with severe illnesses and significant weight problems —you are far more blessed than you realize.
Oh, and one more thing: please don’t pick apart every little thing I’ve said in this post and give me even more unsolicited diet and health advice.
Because that would just be rude.
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