People who have lost considerable weight see a new person in the mirror. It’s not uncommon after dropping 100 pounds that the person actually looks at their reflection in the mirror after avoiding it most of their life. As the pounds drop and the self-confidence grows, life takes on a new look.
Beyond my personal appearance, I find that the way I look at obesity also changed with my weight loss. I was no different than many people in thinking that obese people put themselves in their predicament of being overweight. They just eat too much. They never exercise. These statements might hold some truth, but the root cause of obesity lurks below the surface.
As my knowledge of obesity grew, I learned that obesity is a disease. It is a complex animal rooted in many medical, emotional, and societal causes that people must fight and struggle with to overcome. Understanding the importance of selecting healthy and nutritious foods in proper portions, developing a fun and repeatable exercise routine, and steering my mind and body in a positive affirming direction turned the tide for me.
I struggle in the land between compassion and distain. I struggle judging an obese person eating large amount of food in a restaurant. I struggle pitying a morbidly obese person using a motorized scooter in the mall. I struggle judging an obese family in front of me checking out with a cart full of junk food and sweets.
I struggle because I recognize many of the same traits in my life before weight loss surgery. I forget that the last five years has been a time of great change. My realization that I had to take responsibility for my heath and weight did not occur overnight. It has been a hands-on learning experience that often took not-so-good turns but somehow ended up moving me forward.
Early in my weight loss journey, a friend shared an important thought that tempers my struggles and puts them into perspective. “Each of us is on our own weight loss journey. Some are way ahead of us. Others are walking along side us while others are lagging. Some have just started while many are searching for the path to start. We should not judge anyone. We should offer support and compassion to all who are willing to take the difficult road from obesity.”
The obese deal with discrimination daily because of their appearance. I would like to think that each of us who has overcome obesity doesn’t contribute to that discrimination. Whether it is in-person or on-line, each of us needs to be compassionate and offer support to those wherever they are on their journey.