This is going to be a controversial post, I’m warning you right now. Because the words obese, overweight, fat, and all of their brethren always seem to stir up trouble. So…feel free to check your attitude at the door, because we’re all friends here – but there’s gonna be some tough love ahead.
Let me set the scene. You’ve literally worked your butt off to drop 75 pounds in the past 14 months. You’re amazed and proud of all the hard work you put in on yourself – both physically and emotionally – to get to this point. Strength training, running, spin class, yoga…you’ve dropped fat, gained a ton of muscle, and frankly your ass looks fabulous in those size 10 jeans. You’re Beyonce. Strong, fit, curvy and gorgeous.
Now it’s time for your annual checkup, and you strut into the office knowing your doc is going to be insanely pleased with what you’ve accomplished since the last visit. And he is! He wants to know how you did it, and is so happy with your numbers. Everything is in the right range – cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure. Woohoo!
Then you sneak a peak at your chart when he ducks out of the room, and notice THE WORD.
Oh hell no.
At 5’5” and 181 pounds you know you’re still a little overweight, but most of that is muscle and for Pete’s sake, you wear a size 10! You used to weigh 256 pounds, and now…now you can run a half marathon. You are NOT obese.
Obese is HUGE. Obese is gross, disgusting, embarrassing. Obese means they need to cut a hole in your house to get you out.
You are not obese, and how dare your doctor insult you that way?
Fuming, you stalk out of his office and vow to have your medical records cleared ASAP. Sitting in your car, though, you begin to wonder…”Am I really obese? Do I need to lose another 40 pounds? I thought I’d put all of this behind me but now I feel terrible about myself. Fat, disgusting, I’m a total failure.”
In 20 minutes you’ve gone from being on top of the world to crying in a corner. All over one word. Now what?
Here’s where I want to offer my thoughts.
Your doctor is not being a jerk. You are not a failure. You are not your weight.
The word obese is literally a quantification of your weight vs. your height. It is almost meaningless. The medical industry uses this antiquated method (also called BMI) of classification but current research shows that it is not a valid predictor of health. In fact, carrying a few extra pounds has been shown to be an asset, especially in people who are as fit as you. If you feel amazing in your body, you should pay about as much attention to the label of obese as you would to the age and height your doctor records. It’s data, nothing more.
What you really object to, if you’re being completely honest, is the implication that you are fat. That you are unhealthy, gross, and should feel ashamed of yourself.
When someone says you are obese, you don’t think ‘oh, that means my BMI is 30 or above’ you think…that person is calling me fat. They are insulting me, belittling me, shaming me.
And THAT hurts like a swift punch to the gut.
How dare she? Who does he think he is? Now I need to be mad, hurt, depressed, frustrated…just because someone has insulted me.
Actually, you don’t.
You get to decide. Decide whether you’re going to be offended, upset, crushed by a word written by a man in your chart that pretty much nobody sees but him…or whether you’re going to own all of your hard work, all of your muscles, every inch of your body (wobbly bits included!) and be crazy-proud of yourself.
Obese is just a word. So is fat. Skinny. Curvy. Fabulous. Beautiful. Powerful. Healthy.
Nobody else can hurt your feelings unless you let them.
So why are you letting them?