Quarantine weight has been the topic of numerous social media posts. The memes that talk about what “we” will look like once it’s safe to be outside are growing daily and I have to admit that initially I laughed until something happened.
I can’t quite describe what it was, it was some sort of shift and I found myself upset. Upset at the people who refuse to wear masks. Upset at the people who wear gloves and don’t properly discard them. Upset at the people who are hoarding all the toilet paper, sanitizer and meat. And then it seems that all the frustration turned to music. “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo (Melissa Viviane Jefferson) was blaring in my head.
I immediately started singing and dancing and it hit me. It is time to Live Life Unapologetically.
What does it mean to Live Life Unapologetically?
To live unapologetically means that I will be true to me, despite what others think. Sounds easy, but it’s not. Most of us long for the acceptance of those we care about. Starting this new type of living happens when you realize that YOU matter more and YOU get to decide who YOU are.
It’s less about being concerned with how the world sees you. In “Truth Hurts”, Lizzo reminds us to own our faults but don’t live there. Embrace true friends and love ourselves.
Owning MY truth is what allowed me to reset my inner picture and focus on health and not weight. During most of my teenage years, I was “the ideal” weight, skinny is what some might say. I could eat without worrying about gaining weight. It was almost as if I had a weight gain repellant. That repellant vanished during my late 20s and everything I ate stuck around. I found myself in a shift and I thought I could handle it.
Up and down the weight continued to go and at some point, I stopped counting. Those close to me noticed and it repeatedly became the topic of conversation. I would hear the continual cycle of “Oh, you’ve gained weight!?!?!”, “What size do you wear now?” and the most popular one, “You should go on a diet!” I was able to block out the chatter but not the pain of being fat shamed.
In 2013, the block was lifted when I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. I could not help but wonder what role my weight gain played in this breast cancer diagnosis. With no associated family history and a negative BCRA1/2 result what else could it be. The link between weight and breast cancer has not truly been proven but studies show that weight gain in adulthood is a risk. However triple negative breast cancer does not respond to hormone receptors so yet again, I was lost searching for answers. These unanswered questions remain, but my focus is different.
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Change the Conversation
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention uses the body mass index (BMI) as a screening tool for finding individuals impacted by obesity in the general population. I cringe at every doctor’s visit when instructed to get on the scale because I know what the numbers will reveal.
I am ashamed and instantly feel judged. I know the negative effects of hearing the word can be crippling and has a lasting effect. This effect happens whenever any conversation turns to weight. I find myself trying to make light of my feelings by telling jokes as I shift the conversation. No matter how strong I appear, “obese” makes me feel weak.
It is primitive to identify people by their health conditions. No longer are terms such as diabetic or epileptic used when describing a person yet “obese” remains. This impacts how people feel about themselves but also how others view them. According to the Obesity Action Coalition, there is a known bias and discrimination against people with obesity. Research has demonstrated substantial impact on personal relationships, educational attainment, professional achievement, and healthcare delivery. Further, studies have shown that a description of a person as “obese” is sufficient to cause discrimination in the absence of any meeting with the person in question. The judgement, criticism and humiliation affects how you feel about yourself. And it’s time that we shift the conversation.
How often do negative feelings creep in when discussing weight?
I am collaborating with Med-IQ an accredited medical education company to expand the awareness that obesity is a chronic disease. Weight is complex. Obesity is a disease, and you can’t just wish it away.
Finding Balance During the Quarantine
The quarantine has most of us concerned about what our bodies will look like once all the restrictions have been lifted. There is no magic pill as the body is much more than its appearance. My motivation is my favorite pair of jeans. If they fit without the jump, then I am happy. These help with some of the factors that everyone is experiencing during this time of the coronavirus pandemic that make a person more at risk to gain weight:
Meal Planning. This is an important step because it allows you to control your nutritional needs and avoid the anxiety of what to eat daily. Make certain to include nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and high-quality protein
Keep Moving. I admit to having a gym phobia but I love to dance and walk with my family. There are so many different ways to add movement into your daily life. Find what works for you.
Drink More Water. Often we confuse hunger for thirst. When you find yourself looking for a meal, drink a glass of water and see if it passes. Aim to increase your daily intake each week My goal is one gallon of filtered water per day.
Meditate– Take ten minutes throughout the day and recenter yourself. This is a great way to clear your mind, reduce stress and help you focus on what’s important.
Celebrate Yourself– Anything that made you feel good is worth celebrating. Release yourself from any guilt and focus on the positive. What we focus on grows!
Sleep– Quality sleep is important because it affects how your body responds to food. You might find yourself reaching for high sugar or fat content, sugar-sweetened beverages, chocolate, and salty snacks as quick way to give your body energy. Aim for 6-8 hours if possible.
How You Can Help Others?
Are you ready to improve the way you think and speak about obesity?
Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with obesity and your care team, which will help us develop future educational initiatives. Once you've completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards.
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