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Obesity is not a death sentence – but it can be a life sentence

Obesity is not a death sentence – but it can be a life sentence.

Obesity offends me.

Did you know that most people will scan an article in an F pattern?

They’ll read across from left to right so they will read the headline, which in this case seems to be an offensive and aggressive comment.

They will then read the first line to see if that corresponds to the headline, which in this case it seems a tad inflammatory. They will then scan down the left side of the article to see if the article continues in the same theme, so in this case they would be looking for more belligerent comments and their moral outrage would be cranked up to 11. (If you’re old like me, and you saw the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, you’ll get how 11 is the loudest number there is)

So back to my point – with a shocking and mean sounding headline like that, I have polarised the audience. Some will have turned away, others will read on and some will have keyboards at the ready to collect the posse, gather the firewood and get ready to burn the witch.

Those that are with me some 180 words in now get to hear my point on why obesity offends me.

It’s not because of the obese person themselves – and straight off the bat I will tell you that I have been in that obese category for more of my adult life than not.

It’s because of the insidious nature of the condition. It’s not an epidemic, or a pandemic by the way. Obesity is not a disease that is spread by coughing on your neighbour, or because of some bizarre government experiment in a hidden laboratory. Although…governments are directly responsible for the information that has led to the situation being so severe. I’ll get back to government later, always good to have them as a whipping boy.

Obesity offends me because it robs people of their lives, and prior to that their potential quality of life. It stops people from doing everything they want to do. That’s not to say they can’t do anything, but obesity will stop them from having the choice about what they do and will limit them from some of the activities because of their size, or their health, and even because of their state of mind.

Once you tell yourself that you are too fat (OMG, he said the word fat – get more firewood, we’re going to have a bonfire), to do anything, you are on a downward spiral towards not doing more and more. You’re too fat to wear the clothes you want to, you’re too fat to go and play sport, you’re too fat to go to the beach, it goes on and on and on and ultimately, you just don’t do anything at all.

Now I know a lot of people that live completely satisfying lives and are obese. But, in my rather long experience at dealing with clients who are obese, over a quarter of a century and longer than some of the readers of this article have been alive, there are many people who’s lives are cut short. Cut short in terms of life expectancy and how much life they get out of life.

Obesity causes way too many chronic health issues to go into detail here, but ‘it’ is a major cause of depression, diabetes, heart disease – all of which are known to shorten life expectancy. It ruins relationships, it causes people to not be able to work as efficiently as they could if they were leaner, and it ostracises people because they stop living their life to it’s full potential.

If obesity were a person, I would punch it in the throat!

There are probably a thousand articles written every day by people in the fitness and wellbeing industries (two words I actually hate because they don’t mean much of anything, although I use one of them in my business name to ensure that people understand the broad brush strokes of what the business is about). Of those articles, many are how to avoid it, some are what caused this so called epidemic and and who is responsible, and some are even to tell people that it’s ok to be obese and that it’s your choice and you should all go and hug trees and embrace your right to have a right.

But very few would touch on the topic of why it’s offensive. I say again, obese people do not offend me. Obesity itself and it’s ability to prevent people living a full life, both in terms of years and life satisfaction, is what offends me.

I created my business to help people do the things they didn’t think they could do. To get out and experience life, and to think about how their body works and their mind works and how to get the best out of them both, even if they don’t have and won’t ever have the sort of body that graces Facebook memes as Fitspirational. You know the ones, the glistening sweat on the perfect form that essentially tell you that you lie on the couch and eat crap and are worthless. Tell me that’s not what they are saying!

So, when I have the opportunity to help someone learn about their obesity, and how to combat it, prevent it, overcome it, defeat it, deal with it and move on from it, that’s what I’ll do. I didn’t go to a recent Fitness Convention, and in fact I rarely do, because to me fitness is not about having the most muscle mass, or the fastest time for a CrossFit workout. They’re all great and noble goals and achievements, but when over two thirds of our population are overweight or obese, and there are already 100 million trainers wanting to train the 5% of the population that has the physique of a God or Goddess, there are an awful lot of the rest of us for whom the goal would be to have a greater quality of life, to be able to get up and just go and do stuff, to feel comfortable in our clothes and not be self conscious about our appearance because we know that we are strong, and we have endurance, and we are just as worthy of respect as anyone else.

So, yes. Obesity offends me, and I work hard every day to educate people about how to overcome it.

But sometimes, you just have to get out and do stuff before you have beaten it completely. Sometimes, you just have to go and trek through jungles when you are obese. Or climb mountains when you are obese. Or go for your first run. Or walk into a gym, or even get down on the floor of your lounge room and do a push up if you can.

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If you are waiting to lose weight to go out and live your life, or if you are sitting there thinking that there is no point, because you will never be able to do anything because the weight will never come off – my suggestion is to walk out the front door and just do it.

Obesity is not a death sentence – but it can be a life sentence.

It can make you understand that you have a life, and it is worth living, and you have the opportunity to wring every last drop from it, and once you start doing that you’ll find that you are more likely to eat a little more healthy, and incorporate a little more exercise into your day. Bit by bit, it becomes less of a burden, life becomes a little more worth living instead of existing.

So you can choose  – will it be a death sentence?

Or a life sentence?

Written by

Matt Jolley has been coaching fitness and sports for over 25 years. He has led several treks to complete the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea as well as operating a multi day trek along the Great Ocean Walk several times a year and also runs a Bali Fitness Adventure and a Lombok Trek Adventure - encouraging everyone to take on a challenge and grow from it

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