Saturday, February 02, 2013
I read a blog post recently that explained the authors opinion that being overweight isn't defined simply. It doesn't all come down to too much food, too little exercise and letting yourself go. Instead, it means something different to each person.
My reaction to this statement was immediate and two-sided. On one hand, yes, depression, mental health and physical circumstance does have some role to play in determining if we're overweight. But I like to think I have more control than many people give themselves credit for.
I've spent the last 5 years as living proof that my weight loss and gain throughout my life is directly attributable to what I eat, what I do and how I think. I've become a true believe that how I treat my mind and body day after day trumps my family history 8 out of 10 times.
I know in my heart that my family's maladies (heart trouble and strokes on one side, cancer on the other) are caused by the bad eating and fitness habits of generations before me.
My grandpa didn't have a stroke when he was 40 (that would be hereditary) he was 80. My overweight and under-active mom had a heart attack at 64, not 35. These are the effects of life choices, not pre-determined DNA.
Depression, anxiety and other mental disorders are inhibitors to healthy living - there's no doubt that living with these conditions makes living harder. But isn't exercise shown to be more effective than most medications for these illnesses? This is not to say that people don't need support and intervention and medication, but what it IS to say is that a very large part of our health lies in a very important place.
And I find it comforting that choices I make about my breakfast, my workout habits, organic produce, the role stress plays in my life, my sleeping habits or any of a multitude of choices I make every day boils down to make me healthier or not. Because if it didn't, I don't know if I would care so much.
Part of my decision to be healthier was the knowledge that no one would or COULD do it except me. This is a lot of responsibility for someone who is used to making excuses, being the victim or blaming something or someone for their weight or health problems. But it's also invigorating. It's the place where you start to see patterns and choices where there was just "being" or "doing" or "going through the motions" before. And in my opinion, it's where life begins.