Advice from the Formerly Fat

[montage of junk food]

The Pleasures of Life

The website Reddit is a font of crowd-sourced wisdom, where many people pass along the lessons they learned the hard way. In the “fat people stories” sections, the obese refer to themselves by the ruefully humorous term “hamplanet,” and this tip comes from a page called “You might be a hamplanet if…” It advises careful self-scrutiny and the honesty to acknowledge that a problem probably exists if:

• you have a medical ‘condition’ that isn’t backed by an actual doctor
• you’ve eaten someone else’s food without asking
• it takes you 12 hours to complete a 26 mile marathon, but still consider yourself an athlete
• you chew with your mouth open
• you have used a scooter in a store because you were tired of walking
• you have to weigh the option of bending over for something

Many formerly obese people come to recognize the lies they used to tell themselves. They grasp the truth rather than clinging to fallacies. They let go of the idea that by working to gain a healthy weight, a person is depriving herself or himself of the good things in life, like cheeseburgers, cupcakes, and sugar-sweetened beverages. They learn a secret, namely that the seeming deprivation opens the door to rewards much more comprehensive and satisfying than the momentary pleasure of scarfing down a treat.

Some people consider themselves lucky because their definition of a treat is so specialized. If you’re an ordinary person struggling to pay the bills, and a rare cheese or a gourmet brand of chocolate is your idea of gustatory heaven, the monetary cost will automatically limit your ability to indulge. Consider yourself fortunate to have such expensive tastes, some say, because that pickiness can save you from ruin.

A reinvented self

Theresa Bowick is a registered nurse, motivational speaker, neighborhood health activity organizer, wellness enthusiast, talk show host, and author of the book Collard Green Curves – A Fat Girl’s Journey from Childhood Obesity to Healthy Living.

For a while she followed an unpromising path, dropping out of college to have a child, and letting her body grow to uncomfortable and unhealthy proportions. At 5’7”, Bowick weighed 236 pounds, but what really motivated change was not her own bulk but the occasion of her overweight daughter’s 16th birthday party. She realized that by setting a better example, she might change both their lives.

The Weight Watchers program helped her to lose 75 pounds and, more importantly, to maintain the loss for years. As a bonus, being in control of her weight showed her that other areas of her life were amenable to change. That’s when she went back to school and got a nursing degree, started a fitness movement in her town, and eventually was recognized by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition with a community leadership award.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “you might be a hamplanet if…” Reddit.com, 03/10/14
Source: “Going From Fat to Phat! ‘Collard Green Curves’ Author Dishes on Diet and Exercise,” BlackAmericaWeb.com, 07/09/13
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