Tired Puppy

Loving Your Body When It’s Not Working Right

There’s no denying it. We’re screwed up when the subject comes to health and body weight. That’s why body positivity — loving your body as it is — is an important concept gaining traction with the American public. But when you throw obesity into the mix, the conversation gets complicated.

It gets complicated because people harbor such wildly divergent ideas about obesity. Plenty of people hold the noxious view that obesity is defined by excess body weight resulting from unhealthy personal choices. Indeed this is a common view.

Perhaps in reaction to that view, other people view obesity as a bogus diagnosis used to pathologize large bodies. Obesity is seen as a stigmatizing label defined strictly by BMI and thus weight. They point to flaws in BMI as proof that obesity is a bogus diagnosis. Labeling the combination of a high BMI with good metabolic health as “healthy obesity” compounds the confusion.

For people who equate obesity with body size, the notion of obesity as a disease is absurd. The editors of Narrative Inquiries in Bioethics described this reaction in the context of the AMA decision that obesity is a chronic disease: “People were angry—how could they go from ‘healthy’ to ‘diseased’ overnight?”

The real definition of obesity is not based on size. It’s based on the unhealthy accumulation of adipose tissue. Unhealthy visceral adipose tissue can accumulate at a low BMI, but more often it’s associated with a high BMI. Regardless of BMI, when unhealthy adipose tissue accumulates it sets off a cascade of metabolic problems, starting with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. At that point your body is not working right. At that point, a disease is at work in your body.

Especially when your body is not working right, loving your body is essential. Obesity Action Coalition board member Sarah Bramblette explains:

When we were young a kiss made our hurts feel better. When our bodies physically turn on us, we need to harness our emotional and mental power to try and balance our overall health. We can’t be fair weather fans to our bodies, only treating them well when they’re in good working order. It’s more about continuous maintenance. Unlike a car, we can’t trade our bodies in for a new model, so we must love what we have and invest in self care. We can’t withhold love from ourselves until we reach some unattainable goal. We have to love and nurture ourselves and our bodies in order to achieve more in life.

Dealing with the chronic disease of obesity is not about body weight, it’s about self care. Every person’s experience is different, just as every person’s body is different.

Click herehere, and here for more perspective.

Tired Puppy, photograph © Phil Romans / flickr

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April 7, 2016

One Response to “Loving Your Body When It’s Not Working Right”

  1. April 07, 2016 at 11:38 am, Stephen Phillips said:

    In reference to loving your body I most often refer to a Twain Quote
    “You can take silver and refine it and make it better silver and you take gold and refine it and make better gold but you cannot make silver gold or gold silver”
    In other words, do the best you can with what nature provided you.

    Stephen Phillips
    American Association of Bariatric Counselors