Look, gathering a lot of extra weight on your frame is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Not by a long shot. And there are probably many more important things in the world for you to work on, attend to, deal with, than worrying about your weight. Granted.
There are closets to organize, basements to clean out, your music collection to rip into digital, cross-index, and store. That project, alone, could take years. We have to wire or wireless our homes, move our children about, organize junk drawers, assemble oil cans, sort brads and washers, throw parties, paste together photo albums, reconsider our hair, organize communities, find that perfect pair of black pumps. Have to. We have our priorities.
Being heavy is not a desperate situation, at first, because it’s reversible. You know this. You’ve dieted before. It worked. Eventually you will plan to lose the weight, when the time is right, when you can make the time to focus on that task. Meantime, it’s just not as important as other things. Right? Sure.
I felt pretty much the same way for much of my life. I slowly put the weight on, a pound or five or more per year for 20 years. By my 40th birthday, I had stopped recognizing myself in the mirror, in family photos, stopped looking in mirrors. But still, it wasn’t that important. My looks weren’t important. Never mind that that body wasn’t ME. That cloak, that mask, I knew, was temporary.
And then things started happening. My feet became easily injured, often injured, chronically injured. Followed by my knees. And then my hip. And then I couldn’t walk a half mile without sitting and swelling. I suffered migraines, chronic infections of various kinds. I was sick a lot, placed on at least 5 rounds of antibiotics per year. And antibiotics to solve problems caused by antibiotics. Trips to physical therapists and massage therapists and alternative healers when the regular healers couldn’t help. Over the counter medications to manage the symptoms brought about by the under-the-counter medications. And lots and lots and lots of ibuprofen. I put it all down to turning 40. But it was all a part of being overweight.
Here’s the problem. If, like me, you let that weight hang around for too long, it gets a lot harder to lose. It’s never impossible, but it does get harder. There are the biomechanical problems of carrying around a lot of extra weight for a long time, the wear and tear on your feet, ankles, knees, hips. These will increasingly make it harder for you to move, and when it’s hard to move, it’s harder to lose weight. Not impossible, but harder.
But there is also the havoc that too much fat plays on your body’s metabolism and immune system. Extra fat is not benign, it turns out. Extra fat perpetuates itself. Extra fat and insulin resistance go hand-in-hand. We wind up overproducing insulin, straining our pancreas. Too much insulin brings on all manner of uncomfortable and frustrating symptoms, and is thought to wreak havoc on many systems, leaving us unable to conceive children, open to cancers, heart disease, a whole host of inflammatory diseases. It can also play some dirty rotten tricks with our metabolism, so that even when we do diet, the weight doesn’t come off as easily as it used to.
You diet but don’t lose weight? That, my friends, is more than frustrating. That can feel really very frightening. That’s when you feel trapped in a body you don’t even recognize as yours.
But still, even then, even when it’s gone on far too long, it’s reversible. The methods you may need to use to reverse weight gain may become more complex, more dramatic, moving from diet-and-exercise to medically supervised diet-and-exercise, to surgery-and-diet-and-exercise, but it’s reversible.
You really are never trapped. You’re never completely without options. But the sooner you attack this problem, decide it is time to take care of yourself, the easier it will be. That’s the good news. The great news is, with the extra fat gone, our bodies have a remarkable capacity for healing, gaining strength, getting well. Simply remarkable.