Friday, March 18, 2005

Reaction and Question Answered

The reaction to my last post was not what I thought it might be. I think most of my anonymous commenters took the wrong message from it. While I do agree that obesity is a growing problem (no pun intended) in this country, that was NOT the point of my post.

My point was, that the body image associations our society teaches women, is unrealistic and psychologically harmful. Not that I think people should eat what they want and be obese. But, I do think that a healthy body attitude is what is needed, you can be fit and healthy and eat right and exercise and wear a size 14 or 16, or even more.

I think that as women in this country, we are taught that if we are not a size 2 then we are fat, and fat is bad so we are bad. Think about how we talk about food. We eat a piece of chocolate cake and say, "I'm being bad" You are NOT being bad, you may be making a bad food choice but you are not bad yourself. Somewhere along the line I think, we pick up the idea chocolate cake equals bad. I eat chocolate cake equals I am bad. And then we feel guilty or whatever and are hard on ourselves about it. It's not a healthy cycle to be in.

Or think about the clothing industry. If you are larger than a size 10 and have tried shopping, it can be really difficult. Clothing is often cut for smaller women. Or stores don't carry larger sizes. Certain stores (and it's becoming more popular) do not carry sizes above a 12. If you wear a 14 or larger, they tell you to go to a "Women's" store. Well, I am a size 14. And the smallest size at any "Women's" store is WAY too big on me. So I often have a very hard time finding clothing. And the stores are losing out on a lot of business, because there are pleanty of women my size. So what does it teach us? If we're not thin enough then we're not good enough to shop in a regular store, we have to go to a special store. Even if the clothing in the special store doesn't fit. Not a great message.

And we are teaching it to our children. It scare me that young girls are more afraid of being fat than they are of nuclear war, or cancer, or losing their parents. It's scary that eating disorders exist, let alone kill 20% of their sufferers. Isn't it sad that three quarters of this countries women are on a diet, and that we're teaching it to our children younger and younger, high schoolers dieting when they don't need to, 10 year olds dieting because they're so afraid of fat. What is wrong with our society when we teach these things to our children like that? I think, it's just as big of a problem as obesity, if not larger. (Again, no pun intended)

So what is wrong with some fat? Why do we all have to be a size 2 to be beautiful. I'm plagued by these issues as most women are, and I really think it is unhealthy and we need to put some sort of stop to it. THAT was the point of my post. Awareness.

And now onto Anonymous #4's Question: Carie, do overweight people experience additional difficulties recovering from the various conditions that require your PT services?

Anonymous #4, yes. And no. Obesity puts you at higher risk for High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Sleep Apnea, Arthritis, and a whole host of other things. And yes, it will decrease your life span. And yes, obesity in children is becoming a problem and getting worse, which makes all of the above risks higher. So it is a factor in your medical treatment.

I work in a hospital, so I don't usually see the orthopedic end of things, but in my experience, if one is overweight or obese, and has arthritic knees, or hips, or back problems, losing weight will ease the pain, will help the recovery from a joint replacement or back surgery, or maybe prolong the time before the surgery is needed. It definately helps orthopedic wise. Think about this, gravity pulling down on more weight pulls stronger than on less weight. When you walk, your feet exert force onto the ground, but the ground exerts force onto your feet too, which travels up your body. The heavier you are, the more forces exerted, the more likely to have arthritic joints.

As for the not, well I suppose a case could be made that obesity makes it harder to recover from medical stuff. But I'd say it's a factor, not necessarily the whole truth. I've seen both obese and non obese people with the same complications. I think that with obesity the risk facors increase and I think its more the combination of the risk factors that give the real medical healing determinant.

On a similar note, I do see a lot of people post gastric bypass surgery. Which I have mixed feelings about, and could say a lot about. To make it short though, I think it can be a useful tool for weight loss as a LAST RESORT Because it is NOT the easy way out. It's probably the hardest way out. You can't eat more than a few ounces of food at a time for the rest of your life. Exercise is just as if not more important. Diet and nutrition is EXTREMELY important. You are at higher risk for vitamin deficiencies, and osteoporosis. And there are a TON of nasty complications that can go with it. I think it is a useful tool that has become too popular and therefore is being abused. Many patients are shocked whed I tell them the day after surgery that they need to get up and walk with me, and then they have to do it on their own 3x a day. "I walk to the bathroom a lot" "I sit in my chair" (as opposed to the bed) It's hard sometimes to get people to participate, they don't realize that exercise starts day one and it's important. And on that note I'll end my shpiel on gastric bypasses.

So Obesity is a problem and health risks are there. I think what we need to do is educate our children at a young age about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise. No more fast food and video games. We need to show by example to our children these things. And we have to teach them that not everyone can be a size 2 and that's ok.

I hope questions were answered and understanding granted. And on that note, it's time for dinner!


Stefanie said...

I have done a lot of research on body image and eating disorders. In college I wrote my thesis on this growing problem, and now as a guidance counselor I am working on a presentation for teachers as the prevalance rate Middle Schools has been increasingly rising over the past few years.

Obesity is a huge problem in the United States and has many consequences. What people forget to realize is that body image distortion and eating disorders are growing problems as well and the consquences are just as high. The problem with us as a country is that the media portrait of an ideal body size is exacly what Carie states, 5'7", 100 pounds, size 2. Unfortunately, the fast growing pace of many cities and the love of food tells us otherwise.

When we go to a restaraunt, the portions we receive are huge; much more food than we need to feel satisfied and full. Yet people eat everything on their plate, because they are paying for it, it tastes delicious, and it's there.

If you traveled to France or another European country, their way of eating is entirely different. This is why obesity is a problem HERE and not there. Yet, many here desire to look like the French and buy clothes made by French designers. No wonder why everything is too small! This leads me back to my main point; body distortion.

Here is some information I have found from my research on the subhect:

Atypical women’s eating habits can be just as severe as those with clinical diagnosis of an eating disorder. Many women do not meet precise diagnosis, but have certain elements with strict control over eating included.

Women with clinical eating disorders have a high body image dissatisfaction and distortion as compared to women without these disorders.

The majority of research done on body image disturbances in individuals who were not clinically diagnosed with eating disorders measured distortion and dissatisfaction which is apparent in adolescence. This occurs because society's standard of a slender body leaves females, ages 10 and up, to feel badly about their weight and shape. It is unforunate but children learn from the adults and environment around them. Mothers who have dissatisfaction with their body image and concerns with their weight have daughters who experienced similar displeasure. Other research shows that elementary school girls who read fashion magazines tend to have higher body image dissatisfaction than those who do not. This is because the appearances of models in these magazines cause young girls to believe that this is how a healthy, beautiful, and popular female should look.

Many women do not feel they can measure up to what they believe is acceptable without negative dieting behaviors. This is thought to be the main reason why women report significant body and shape dissatisfaction, which is linked to low self-esteem and eating disorders.

My point is body image dissatisfaction is a problem that can have serious consequences for women. Which would you rather; women who have heart attacks because they are too heavy, or women who have heart attacks because they are too thin. We need to teach society how to be HEALTHY, looks should not be of importance.

Carie :) said...

YAY FOR STOOFIE! Thanks for all the added stats and info! Exactly my point and I agree. THANKS! :)

Anonymous said...

So, worrying about being fat can be as dangerous as being overweight? Who woulda thought???

Am I missing something here, or is this just a women's thing? I don't think that men obsess about their appearance - even though we sometimes wish they WOULD lose weight and get in shape!!!

Anonymous said...

Just remember the point is not that your eating and enjoying a piece of chocolate cake. The question here is how much cake are you eating? Treating yourself to something to eat that tastes good but has alot of calories is not a bad choice unless you go overboard and eat more than you should. This is not a healthy action. If one continually makes bad choices giving all the wrong reasons, it seems to me that many excuses seem to follow inorder to justify their actions. Blame is the issue here.

If we dont take a good look at ourselves and our own issues maybe it is easier to blame someone or something else. Self control and awareness is the key factor whether it involves food, exercise, behavior, too much shopping and spending more money than you can afford or even sun bathing too long. It doesnt mean that your bad it just means that there are consequences to your actions and the choices you make. This applies to everything in life.

BAD is a feeling that is attached to only some people, not all heavy people feel bad about the choices they make. Maybe it has to do with their own insecurities and poor self esteem. The word BAD if you look it up in the dictionary implies worse, below standard, unfavorable,disagreeable, unpleasant, injurious, harmful, severe, incorrect etc. This in my opinion means that one is probably doing something wrong in any context of life that should be corrected for whatever the reason.

Yes it is true everyone has a different matabolism rate but, I strongly believe if you are doing right by your body with a daily routine of healthy exercise and good eating habits then whatever your size is, at least one can say they are doing right by themselves.

Unfortunatly there are many people out there who blame society and how it treats heavy people, as well as other things because it can be a very good excuse to alleviate the reality and pressure that they would have to face inorder to correct the problem that makes them so unhappy.

I am a thin person and I certainly agree with you that the clothing stores do not cater to heavy people in the way they should. Im sure it is not easy for heavy people to shop and find clothing that they like that fits them well. I can appreciate this causing a lot of annoyance and fustration. But I do know and see many heavy people who do dress well and feel good about themselves.

I also feel that the feeling of BAD comes with a self image that one has to be aware of and somewhere along the line make the important decision as to whether or not they are willing to confront their negative feelings. If one is comfortable with themselves and is feeling that they are making all the right choices than whatever their size and whatever they wear should not matter to anyone else but themselves.

We all have to look in the mirror every day and look at ourselves and ultiamtely face our own concience. Do we or do we not like what we see? That is the real question here. If we dont, then do something about it. It might not be easy but who said life was easy. If one really wants something bad enough whatever it is then it is up to them to try to make the change for themself. If one doesnt try then the inner self battering and pain continues.

Dont put the blame on anyone or anything else. I say try to do what ever it takes to put yourself in a better place. Its worth it!

Carie, it seems to me that you are person who knows who you are and what you want and need to do for yourself. So I say "You Go Girl"

Stefanie said...

I would like to comment on the question of this being a woman's thing. Yes, it is true that eating disorders are more prevalent in women. Yet, men do experience a great deal of pressure from media and society; only this pressure is not to be thin. If you think about womens magazines and the models who are tall and thin, then think about mens magazines and the models that are tall and built like steel. Go into a gym and see the amount of men lifting weights trying to acheive the ideal body image that society poses. In essence eating disorders and dieting tends to be a womens thing, but the issue of body image is a US issue; it hits us all.

Anonymous said...

You have inspired me - I am starting my new diet today and sticking to it!!!

Size 12, here I come!

Carie :) said...

Don't think of it as a new diet, think of it as a new lifestyle of healthy eating and exercise and being good to yourself. That's how I am trying to think of it as. It helps I think not to feel so restricting. PLUS I KNOW I deal with a lot of the body image/fat is bad/thin is good issues, that I think I need to work on more than the eating and exercise. I think if I can look in the mirror and like myself for who I am, then I can be happy with whatever size I am and it'll be easier to be good to myself with a healthy diet and exercise. It's so often NOT about the weight and the diet, but the feelings surrounding it all. It's interesting that y'all are thinking that I'm so sure of myself because I don't always think so. I know what I want and how I want to think and be, but I'm not there yet. I have the goal, but not necessarily the knowledge to achieve it. I am trying though. I CAN say that much. But I'm also glad for the knowledge I've inspired someone. :) WHOO HOO for women starting to be thinking positively about themselves!!!!

Anonymous said...

...and stay away from fast food!!!

Anonymous said...

A lot of women think they're fat because they ARE fat.