Is it really true, or just another flowery excuse?
I hear it and read it daily, from Oprah to Dr. Phil, from 3FC to friends, family and neighbors...but is it true?
As a formerly super obese person, I felt comforted in hearing that my weight issues stemmed from my predisposition to care for everyone except myself. I was fat because I didn't take time for me, but spent all my efforts caring for my family. But wait? How could that be? I certainly had time to eat 5000+ calories a day...isn't that *me time*? I certainly had time to read up on every weight loss pill, diet, and surgery. I had time to daydream about being thin, make charts , graphs, and journals that I never followed through on. I had time to take all the necessary long steps at personal hygiene that takes an enormous amount of time when you are an enormous person. I didn't encourage my kids to play sports because I didn't want to have to go to games, I didn't encourage my kids to exercise, because I didn't want to have to do it with them. I didn't want to have sex with my husband because I was to tired/fat/embarrassed. I didn't feel like cooking so we ate out at the greasy spoon a couple times a week, hit the drive through when we were in the city. Lets see...I did laundry and made sure homework was done and that's about it.
So who was I spending all this time taking care of? Do we REALLY get fat because we take care of everyone except ourselves? REALLY?
Last edited by Lori Bell : 06-04-2009 at 10:44 AM.
Lori, you keep bringing up all these uncomfortable topics that challenge us! (don't stop - please!) I suppose I might be able to justify my lack of exercise as due to time constraints, but you're absolutely right - I found time to stay at the table for extra helpings, I found time to start my car and drive to a fast-food place, and I found time to do all those things you did - start journals, read self-help books, draw up detailed menu plans. Was it Einstein who said, "Nothing happens until something moves?" For me it was the difference between thinking about doing something, and just plain doing something.
i think there are as many reasons for why people put on weight as there are people who put on weight.
i put on weight for a multitude of reasons, including a lack of self-respect. but i also genuinely love to eat and to cook. i lived a sedentary lifestyle. i am also certain that i have a few emotional defense reactions going on, but i'm really working hard on that part of the picture.
Last edited by stillclock : 06-04-2009 at 10:59 AM.
I'm really tired of hearing people talk (or write) about the ONE "secret" to weight loss. If there were only one cause to obesity, we would have had a "cure" at least 60 years ago. Even for myself, if there had been only one cause, I would have solved it more than 20 years ago.
If we stopped treating obesity as a "simple" problem, maybe we'd have a better success rate.
For me that has been true. Most of my life I addressed my weight as if it were "simply" a matter of willpower and calorie restriction. Eventually I learned that while calorie restriction is essential, there are ways to make the calorie restriction a whole lot easier and less unpleasant. Finding those tools to make my life less stressful while losing weight has been a whole lot more effective than spending most of my day trying not to eat (while feeling starved).
My Etsy shop (currently closed for the summer)
Well mine wasn't spending time on others and not myself, mine was just not spending time on anything really. After 40 (gulp) years of soul-searching, mine's a fairly simple formula. Extreme sensitivity (allergy, really) to carbs equaling addiction/lack of control/able to gain very easily/hard to lose PLUS depression. The weight gain didn't cause the depression but it certainly enabled it. Concurrently, the depression didn't cause the weight gain directly but it prevented me from being able to do anything about it. I knew WHAT to do (Atkins) but depression kept me from being able to just do it.
There's no 100% answer for everyone. So, for a lot of people, it's really true. And for others, it's not. Same way with what eating plan/lifestyle works. "Eat less move more" works for some (but is way oversimplification for those of us who need to lose 50, 100, 200, on and on). "Calories in calories out" ditto. What works for me is low carb, not low fat or low cal. But I would never have the arrogance to suggest that any ONE of the above is the ONLY possible way to succeed. Everyone has to find what works for them.
This is a very interesting topic and one that I've wondered about myself. I think the only concession I can make to this theory is the point that when you are doing all of those things for yourself that keep you fat, you are disrespecting yourself, and not "caring" for yourself. Assumably you wouldn't treat others in this way, so from that point of view you are caring for others and not yourself.
But this does seem like a lame, partial interpretation. It's so true that so much time is wasted on destructive behaviours when one is obese. And then Dr. Phil and Oprah always go on to say that when you care for yourself better, you care for others better. So if you care for others better while living a healthy lifestyle, it follows that you weren't doing as good a job of it before, right?
I agree with you that this may be just a story we tell ourselves. I think I used to have "people pleasing" behavior that could have been interpreted as caring for others more than myself, but I definitely had more than enough time to care for myself once I got rid of some of the activities you mentioned (like daydreaming about being thin etc).
Last edited by futuresurferchick : 06-04-2009 at 11:14 AM.
I think that some people--mostly some women--use food to make up for something they are not getting elsewhere. It might be love, it might be appreciation, it might be time to pursue their own desires. Certainly using food that way could lead to being overweight/obese, but making a blanket judgment about cause and effect isn't warranted.
For example, I became obese even though I don't have children, don't have to take care of a husband or boyfriend (or my girlfriend--funny how that works! ), and pretty much have everything the way I want it. So--go figure!
__________________ "My religion is kindness." --His Holiness the Dalai Lama
It may be true for some people, but certainly not all.
When I got fat I wasn't taking care of anyone, really. I was in college living it up. My only responsibility was me. It's just that I gave in to all my simple wants: good food, good tv, and good video games. I was lazy physically and completely wrapped up in self indulgence.
Thank you so much for this thought provoking post! I have never actually thought about it this way before. You are so right Lori Bell. How many times have I made the excuse that I don't have "time" to workout b/c of how much I do for others? And yet, I find time to make nachos and sit in front of the TV with them...I find time to obsess about losing weight...I make charts too, and food diaries, and on and on. The truth is, even with my busy schedule I can carve out time to actually DO something. I need to less time obsessing and feeling sorry for myself, and be honest in evaluating how I'm using my time. THANKS FOR THIS - I NEEDED IT.
Okay, I am gonna swim against the current here and say it was true for me to a point. I overcompensated in many areas of my life before. I couldn't just put up some Xmas lights--my display had to be the best in the neighborhood....I couldn't just dress my kids--they had to have the latest line from Gymboree from head to toe AND matching underwear...I couldn't just be involved with my kids school--I had to be the room parent that did everything and paid for everything...meanwhile I was making myself and many of those around me miserable! On top of that I always felt like I had to be the life of the party--the girl that talked to everybody, etc. Now, I am so anti all these things I mentioned. And you know what? I feel amazing and I feel like ME!
I guess you could say I was grossly imbalanced before.
"Be who you are, say what you feel. Those who matter, don't mind. Those who mind, don't matter." --Dr. Seuss
Last edited by Thighs Be Gone : 06-04-2009 at 05:47 PM.
I don't get it. I don't hear the message that everybody is fat for only one reason and that taking care of everyone else is that reason. I don't even hear that as "a" reason all that much. I hear stuff like eating junk food, portion sizes, carbs are too high, yo-yo dieting, couch-potato-ness, etc, etc, etc, far more often.
As for it being a reason for some, why is that hard to believe?
I feel like borrowing your "Really?"
Started 4/14/08 LINK TO PROGRESS PICS 1/1/2009
"It is impossible to live pleasurably without living wisely, well, and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely, well, and justly without living pleasurably" Epicurus
I'm kind of mixed on this one. I know that those with kids/jobs/elderly parents spend aLOT of time looking after everyone else. And often, they put themselves last on the priority list. And I can see how easy it would be to just "let the kids order pizza" instead of insisting on a healthier meal that is homemade. and " If you both just stop FIGHTING in the back seat, we'll go for ice cream later tonight". Moms seem to get the last rotation in the shower in the am, the burned piece of toast, the mangled piece of cake, the minivan schedules, the grocery shopping...So perhaps there ARE those out there who don't look after themselves as they should. Dietarily AND exercise-wise, especially when one feels "guilty" for leaving the kids at home with Dad so she can go to the gym...
BUT, on the other hand, perhaps the act of caregiving really serves as an excuse after a certain point. "I'm going through the drive-thru (again) and ordering a double Big Mac because I'm tired and stressed looking after everyone". "I NEED this double caramel mocha-ccino-latte-frappe-supreme with whipped cream right now. GOD I'm tired." "If you don't finish your mac and cheese, I'll eat it so it won't get wasted."
I think everyone has to find their own path. Some never find it because they get swamped in rationales, excuses, and will argue STRONGLY to keep their limitations ("I can't eat salad because noone at home will eat it and I'm only cooking once." "I just don't have the time to cook dinner all the time." "I hate to sweat so I won't exercise." "Diets don't work for me so it is impossible for me to lose the weight." "I'd lose the weight if veggies were cheaper." "I can't resist the ads on tv and eat too much junk. It isn't MY fault -- they shouldn't be allowed to advertise".), and those people win. They get to keep their limitations and their excess weight. Others really take a hard look at themselves and DECIDE that they WILL change and FIND A WAY TO DO IT.
For me, I sat on my A$$, ate Frito-Lays and chocolate and junk, and didn't move. I chose to be large because I chose what I ate and I chose how I moved. I also have chosen to be healthy, and have found a way to do that which works for me. No excuses, here!!!
Every time I hear people on Oprah saying they put themselves last I always picture new mom that are having trouble balancing their new lives, so maybe them putting their selves last means they are not losing their pregnancy weight, or the gained a few pounds because they are looking after children instead of exercising. In these kinds of situation I can see how"I put myself last" applies.
I do not think it applies to someone like me. I gained well over 100lbs because I ate way too much, I was extremely lazy and I just plain didn't care. IMO those are the things that cause most people to become extreamly obese.