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      13.07.2013 16:29
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      a complex condition

      This is a topic that plays on my mind as it's common theme that runs in my family; most of my family members are obese than not and most have struggled with this over decades. When you hear the word 'obese' what do you think of? Personally I think of people stuck indoors, crippled by their weight, having to make clothes out of duvet covers and the army coming to remove their roof so they can be winched out of their house. In reality it's very different. You need to have a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or greater to be considered obese in the UK - obviously this does't take into account athletes with much lower levels of body fat and more muscle than the average Joe or older people who have lost muscle - and that's honestly not hard to do.

      Say the average UK height for women was 5'4 then at a weight of 12.5 stone a woman would be hitting the 30 BMI mark and would be considered obese. Hardly the image of a person crippled by their weight living their life on a sofa. I used to think obesity meant super huge or that a person would have to be at least in the 19-20 stone mark to even be considered obese but as we see it's not the case at all.

      Within the 'obese' category there are different 'degrees' of obesity. A few years ago you'd never hear these terms banded about as it wasn't such a huge problem but nowadays it's becoming all too commonplace. I remember years ago watching a documentary about obesity in America and wondering what the word itself meant, it wasn't a word I'd heard before, and as the documentary unfolded it basically became clear that we'd be inheriting America's problems of obesity, in particular childhood obesity. Now I remember laughing at this thinking, "It'll never happen in the UK! The government will step in! Parents won't let it happen!". I have to admit that I blamed the 'bigger is better' culture of America for it's obesity problems - and perhaps I'm not wrong - and didn't believe the British public would ever allow themselves to get to that stage. With increasing numbers of children being not only overweight, but obese in the past couple of years, it's clear to see that the predictions of this documentary were not far wrong.

      Obesity causes adverse effects on health and puts people at risk of the following (to name but a few): type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) and sleep apnea. And what causes obesity? Over consumption of calories and not enough energy output = eating too much and not doing enough. There are several layers to this (and I'll discuss those), of course, but at the heart of it this is usually the cause. Obesity is a preventable thing. In other words obesity can be prevented AND reversed. It is now being viewed as one of the most serious health problems of the 21st century.

      You may well have known someone who was obese who lived to see their 100th birthday but how much better could their life have been if they were a healthy weight? Obesity not only limits what you can do simply because you might be suffering from a health condition related to your obesity but being heavier just adds weight to you and this can be uncomfortable in itself. There is a huge strain put on your organs, joints and body when you're carrying extra weight around and with the social stigma attached to being bigger or obese it can lead to issues with self esteem and depression.

      So what are some of the layers under the first two obvious causes? Food addiction is one. And unlike most addictions food is something you need to stay alive so it can be a vicious circle to be caught in. In this case I'd strongly advise people to seek out professional help which might sound over the top but if it's a choice between being obese, addicted to food or getting help for your problems then it's more sensible to tackle the addiction than to simply live with it and get worse.

      Genetics and upbringing play their part, too. If someone is constantly surrounded by messages of food being about reward or portion control is never taught or administered then it's likely that a child brought up in this way will go into adulthood with their continued lack of education about nutrition. If people aren't shown how to cook or do things for themselves they may just rely on a takeaway to provide dinner several times a week. Of course there comes a point in everyone's life where they must face the fact they're an adult and take responsibility for their lives but I believe upbringing plays a massive role in how seriously or not the majority of the population take their health. Genetics are a little more complicated, however, as I often feel they are used to excuse people's problems. Yes you MAY be more likely to develop a heart condition or become overweight but it's not an absolute certainty. You only make it a certainty with the choices you make. If it means you have to work a little harder than the average person, then that's what you have to do. We've gone past the days of famines so we don't need to be carrying extra weight around for the sake of 'food storage', either.

      There are certain illnesses (Prader-Willi syndrome for example) where obesity is a major feature of the illness of itself. Medications can also cause weight gain but with sensible eating and exercise this needn't be a problem. Again education is needed. Whenever I have gone to the doctor for contraceptive pills, for example, they automatically warn you that weight gain is expected but they fail to comment that this needn't happen if you control your diet and exercise. The contraceptive pill increases your appetite and your appetite can be controlled - and feeling hungry isn't a prison sentence, it's a normal and healthy feeling - so I don't know why they fail to mention this as most people probably assume they'll put on weight, give into their appetite and then surprise surprise they put on weight.

      People also live more sedentary (yet with more stress) lifestyles these days; working at desk jobs, doing less manual labour and having a ready supply of hot, delicious food that might not be the best thing for them (and yes I'm thinking of a certain bakery chain that rhymes with 'eggs.') I think people are more likely to use food as an emotional comfort these days as it's cheaper to buy a big bag of crisps or tub of ice cream with all the supermarket offers of 'buy one get one free' and so on. And it becomes too easy to sit down, after a stressful day of sitting down, kick back with junk food and watch hours of TV than it is to get off your bum and do some exercise. The biggest kicker of the situation is that exercise actually decreases stress levels and would do people good in more ways than one.

      The treatment for obesity is to eat less and do more. If it gets so severe that people can't control it in these ways then usually medication, then surgery is considered. In the cases of people receiving surgery it is very successful in terms of long term weight loss but is obviously very expensive and invasive - not to mention risky and painful for those undergoing the surgery - so patients are encouraged to try other methods before surgery is considered.

      Overall there is a huge social stigma attached to being obese, more women than men are obese and it can effect mortality rates, put a strain on the finances of a country when you need to treat a large volume of obese patients and the causes of obesity are complex. It's a multi-faceted problem that needs to be addressed earlier in a person's life rather than later when bad habits are cemented and health problems occur.

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        23.03.2012 19:05
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        It's a battle worth winning

        I struggled with my wieght for most of my teenage years and early 20's. It is easy to blame society or the parents for obesity in young people but we all have a choice and there is help just around the corner.
        I don't blame my parents whatsoever for why I ended up obese they were loving parents and didn't want to deprive me of anything.
        I wasn't particularly sporting or active when I was younger and blame this really. My brother was 2 years older and had the same meals and snacks as myself but due to his outgoing nature and active lifestyle he never suffered.
        Another reason I think I ended up Obese was my shy nature which prevented me from getting invloved in sports teams at school. The shy nature was also a result of the obesity in some respects and can become a viscous circle.
        The turning point in life can come at any time. You can choose to do something about it or live in denial and get worse and unfortunalty obesity leads to other health problems if not acted on.
        At the age of 25 I stopped ignoring the fact that I was obese and decided to do something about it. The wake up call came when applying for a medical certificate for a job only to be refused....Something had to change.
        With the help of my brother and a local martial arts centre, in a little over 2 years I had lost 5 stone!
        Family members ceased to recognice me at parties the change was that dramatic!
        Most of all I feel a million times better. My confidence is sky high and even borders on cockyness some days ;).
        I hope I can be an inspiration for other people struggling with weight as I did. I can only tell you that if I can do it you all can. Your friends and family will help you every step of the way and even strangers at local sports/fitness clubs will become your closest allies in the battle that will define you. Most of all do it for yourself and tell yourself you can do it. The feeling you get when you have achieved your goals is incomparable.

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          22.01.2012 18:05
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          It's hard to beat, but not impossible.

          Your body works in exactly the same way as your bank account. If you use more than you put in it gets smaller, if you put in more than you use it gets bigger. That part is quite simple. Having said that, to say that a person is fat because they eat to much is like saying a person is dead because their heart has stopped beating and they have stopped breathing. It may be factually accurate but it doesn't actually explain very much.

          So, there are some medical conditions, for example having an underactive thyroid, which might make you more likely to put on weight, but then you need to eat less.

          Diets, as we understand them in the Western world, don't work, they can only ever be a temporary fit. This is because if you "go on a diet" then eventually you will come off that diet, possible when you have reached your goal weight. You will then revert to your previous eating habits and you will very quickly revert to your previous weight.

          The only thing which does work is making permanent, sustainable, lifestyle changes. Look at the things which are causing you to be fat and change them.

          Society does tend to give the impression that being fat is some kind of sin. It's not a sin and you don't have to pay penance to absolve yourself. Losing weight has to be at least as much fun as putting it on was, and it can be. You just need to find something that works for you.

          Unfortunately we are biologically and psychologically predisposed to overeat when we have the opportunity and to store that additional energy in the form of fat. It is what has made us successful as a species. When we were competing for food, it's the ones who were most successful who survived and produced offspring. So it's not surprising, now food is in plentiful supply obesity is becoming and increasingly serious problem.

          Learn to fight nature what comes naturally:

          Ensuring your supply - Have you ever wondered why you feel compelled to eat just because somebody around you is eating? You are ensuring your supply. You body is telling you this is a limited resources therefore you must ensure you have your share. Remind yourself that there's plenty of whatever it is available. So your brother might be eating the last of the chocolate chip cookies, but there are more in the shop. You can buy chocolate chip cookies whenever you want and eat them to your heart's content. Only eat one if you genuinely want one. I would suggest if your brother started eating them it was him that wanted them not you.

          More means more- Given a seemingly endless supply of food we will almost always eat more than we actually need. Again we are ensuring our supply. Feast today could mean famine tomorrow. Before you go back for seconds, ask yourself are you really hungry? or just preparing for a famine that won't come?

          Variety is the spice of life - We are biologically predisposed to enjoy variety. Being able to eat a variety of things has made us more successful. Be honest, if somebody gives you a box of chocolates, you want to try every flavour don't you? Offered a choice of 16 different types of sandwiches you are going to eat as many different ones as you can. This is probably the hardest one to deal with. This is actually a good thing. Our love of variety is the key to successful weight management. So be selective, only pick the thing you really want the most. Don't think of it as depriving yourself, think of it as treating yourself only to the very best of what life has to offer.

          Waste not, want not.
          You can hear your mother saying it can't you. Now we are all encouraged to be considerate of the environment wasting food is being frowned on anew. Be sure of this, it is every bit as wasteful to eat something you don't want or need as it is to throw it in the bin. What's more it will annoy you for a lot longer around your waist than in the waste. The key to avoiding waste food is to buy less than you think you will need and put less on your plate than you think you want. You aren't going to starve, seriously, there's no need to panic.

          Don't expect instant results. It took you a while to put on the weight, don't expect to lose it overnight. Don't get downhearted if it seems to be taking a while. If you have adopted an eating regime you can live it for life, it doesn't matter how long it takes.

          Finally don't forget to love yourself. Weight problems often go hand in hand with self loathing and low self esteem. Your size is only one thing about you. There are lots of great things about you. Focus on them.

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            28.03.2011 22:44
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            Slow and steady wins the race

            I am currently training to be a dietitian and whilst on placement i have been and taken many clinic which are either an obesity specialist clinic or the majority of patients are obese. From I have seen and researched I believe that there are many things that can cause someone to be obese from social to being addicted to food. Overall the science is that if you eat more than you burn off then you are going to put on weight. Now I know as i used to be overweight myself that losing weight is very hard, you need the right support around you and you need the right education on how to do it in a sensible way. There are many fad diets out there that do work although it is often the support after a person has lost weight where they fall down. The restrict you so much and get you to lose the weight but then do not support you afterwards to help you re-introduce food. To lose weight you need to reduce your current calorie intake by between 500-600kcal this will help you to lose about 1lb or 0.5kg a week which although doesnt sound a lot think after 1 month that is 4lbs or 2kg and 2 months that is 8lbs and 4kg etc. Now it has been proven that to help you from a healthy point of view and to help reduce the chances of diseases like diabetes and heart attacks that you need to lose between 5-10% of your current body weight, even this small change can have a massive effect. Once you have done that any extra that you can lose will be an added bonus and help to reduce your chances further. Now good luck and if you really feel that you need help or want support trying to do this go to your local GP and they should be able to refer to your local dietetics department who as part of the NHS will be able to support you for weight loss.

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              26.02.2010 19:08
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              Obesity can be explained by social and biological factors

              I have just finished a degree in psychology and sociology and i touched upon obesity in one of my modules. From researching this topic I found that a range of factors can cause obesity and in fact can be both a social problem and biological problem. Obesity is a modern problem as it started to escalate with the rise of modern society and has continued to increase with massive numbers of people and children in todays society being put into this category. Obesity can be very threatening to lives as it causes bad health e.g. the risk of diabetes increases. However the people who are obese themselves and the stick they get for it I say is not fair. The media today serves to create a mindset that envisages the smaller size as being the most appropriate. There is the increasing size zero phenomenon, and therefore obesity becomes distinctive as a weight extremity. However, obesity used to be seen as attractive, a sign of strength, fertility and wealth. Therefore perceptions of obesity have dramatically changed and because of this people who are obese are being seen differently. There have also been many changes in the social world, for example there are more fast food restaurants, people have become more inactive due to cars, computers, gaming programs etc. Additionally thought research such as World Health Organisation (1997) have found that approximately 25-40% of weight is inheritable, therefore there are also biological explanations for obesity. So there are a lot of issues at play that need to be taken into consideration when thinking about obesity and the explanations for it.

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                11.02.2010 14:23
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                My thoughts on weight issues...

                I have decided to add my thoughts to this topic as it is something which I think about a lot, probably too much!
                I am not obese, nowhere near it in fact. I am small 5'4" and although I don't want to say my weight I am a size 8-10 top and 10-12 bottom.
                I go to the gym a few times a week so am not flabby, I do carry a little weight around my stomach, but think I'm fairly average.
                Despite all this I seem to be called 'fat pig' and such things on a regular basis, always by males I must add. This frustrates as I wish it didn't hurt but it does. (Should state here, it's never people I know, just random guys on nights out or in the street or whatever, young guys these days seem to think anything over a size 6 is fat!)
                I love my food and really struggle on a daily basis to keep my weight under control, so I feel I can really empathise with overweight people.

                I am rambling a little here I think, so to clarify I think the word obese is thrown about too much these days. Having been labelled a 'big-boned' (I heard fat) child myself I am all too aware of the issues with self confidence that this has left me with, and I think parents and doctors etc nee to be very careful when dealing with childhood obesity.

                I could write an essay on this topic, but I hope you have enjoyed reading my short review.

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                  29.01.2010 19:18
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                  Delicate issues

                  I think that people can be really ignorant when it comes to weight issues. I struggled with my weight since having my son, but I can think back further when I thought I was fat. I think that the media can manipulate situations when they have a headline such as "Obese" and then a picture of an individual who is clearly a size 12-14.

                  I think doctors put to much pressure on people to lose weight as well. I would say that to class someone as obese they would need to be seriously close to damaging their health, although doctors use the word "obese" quite freely without a care in the world to how it may upset others. They also only give the advice to diet and exercise which isn't as easy as it sounds.,

                  I personally think overweight people have far too much criticism, they tell themselves every day how hideous they are they do not need others confirming their fears. I do believe however being over weight is unhealthy but to just expect people to lose weight and change a lifetime of habits is completely ridiculous.

                  I know how it feels to be "fat" and I still feel like it now, even though I know I am normal weight for my height, it took me a very long time to lose the weight gained during my pregnancy. People with weight problems need more support form society rather than the constant put downs, which will only make matters worse.

                  Many individuals who are overweight suffer from depression and anti-depressants can cause weight gain, not everyone who is overweight are that way because they don't take care of their body there are many factors to make individuals overweight.

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                    24.10.2009 23:30
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                    If people with weight problems were embraced rather than scorned, maybe the problem would diminish

                    After having read Hishyeness' truly excellent, open and honest piece about the trials and tribulations of being overweight, I felt inspired to put pen to paper (or should I say finger-pads to keyboard) and create my own piece on the same subject.

                    A very special thanks to Hishyeness for raising this topic in the first place, and to have produced such a stunning piece of writing which I, and I'm sure many others also did, found very moving.

                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                    DISCLAIMER: I intend none of what follows to be a criticism of my mother in the slightest. She had her own unresolved problems, and if she were alive today and able to read this, I feel certain she'd agree with everything I've said concerning her.

                    I make no apologies for the length of this piece, as I feel it's one of the most important issues facing our modern society, of sensitivity and how we judge one another without first thinking.

                    I have many memories from my early childhood of my mother waving a spoonful of food in front of my face, attempting to get me to eat. She'd create little stories to try and make food more appealing to me, arrange my dinner in little pictures, coat orange slices in sugar to make them more palatable - all sorts. I was carted back and forth to the doctor's surgery, for my mother just to be told that it was a simple case of me having a small appetite. This was back in the post-WW2 days when it was considered that a thin person was an unhealthy person.

                    I don't have many photographs of myself from my past, but there are a couple from when I was aged between about 3 and about 6 where I truly was Belsen-thin, and my legs just looked too frail to hold up the rest of me. I wasn't unhealthy though.

                    Then came the family breakup. Without going into detail, it happened in rather an unusual way, and wasn't very well dealt with by the adults in general. Unable to comprehend suddenly what everything had all been about, I began to find a comfort of sorts in food. Everything then changed. Whereas my mother always (whilst nattering to friends, neighbours etc.) used to say she was at the end of her tether trying to get me to eat, the story changed into one of me eating her out of house and home.

                    Despite my sudden passion for most things edible, I managed to retain a very slender body shape right up until I was aged about 18. During those growing-up years, I can now with hindsight look back and see a definite pattern of behaviour emanating from my mother as regards my changing attitudes to food.

                    Once my mother discovered I'd found my appetite, instead of wondering why and questioning the issue, she breathed a sigh of relief and began to use food for me as a means of comfort, a means of discipline, a treat - all sorts of things except for what it's real use should be; staying alive and healthy. I have clear memories of whenever I was upset, an ice cream would magically appear or if ever I had something like a cold, I'd be given a huge slab (on top of my dinner) of Woolworth's iced marzipan cake with a cup of hot milky Ovaltine as a pre-bedtime treat. I was even led to believe that the cake would make my cold go away!

                    There is a tinge of niceness about those memories, because it meant my mum was in nurturing mode and those food treats did used to make me feel safe and secure - but, there is another, darker side. My mum and I didn't always get on too well, as I reminded her so much of my father - a thing she wasn't too keen on. Whenever I did anything wrong or upset my mum, especially if we argued during mealtimes, she'd push her plate away, tell me how much I'd upset her and that she couldn't continue eating. She'd then dash upstairs to the loo, and reappear after a while telling me that I'd made her sick. Of course, I now know who was making her sick; not me, but herself. It took me until I was aged in my 30s to realise that though, and exactly what my mum's real problem was.

                    When I was going through my teens, I had a very good figure, going in and out in all the right places. I was a healthy size 12 and received a fair bit of male attention, as I looked older than I was. There was a little fly in the ointment though, that once I started work at age 15, my mum was constantly remarking on my weight, saying that I was getting fat (which I wasn't), telling me that no man would want me if I put on too much weight. She would then back it up by saying how pretty I was, and that I shouldn't spoil my looks by getting fat - then she'd suggest that I cut down on my food intake.

                    I then got caught up in the late 1960s/early 1970s fervour of crash dieting and Limmits' meal replacements. I could never stick to any of these diets for long though, but as far as I was concerned it didn't really matter as I wasn't overweight in the first place. I'd lose a couple of pounds, then my mum would take me to one side and say how concerned she was about me, that I was dieting too strenuously and she was scared I was becoming anorexic! I just couldn't seem to win or please her, so I carried on in my own way.

                    My mum was still continuing the manipulative behaviour, but when I was 14 she met who was to become my stepfather, and he replaced me as being the butt of it. I was largely left to my own devices, because my mum now had a man in her life.

                    Though illness (cervical cancer) was partly the cause, my mum continued to become 'upset' and express her feelings by refusing food, then vanishing off to the loo to purge everything and anything she'd eaten - whereas this previously had been my fault, I was suddenly let off the hook and it became my stepfather's fault - in a very short space of time, my mum had dropped her body weight to around 5st and she still believed she was fat.

                    Not much was known about eating disorders back in those days, and nobody questioned that my mother could have been suffering from a condition that's a sort of a halfway house between bulimia and anorexia (oscillating from one to the other depending on what was going on), as she was a middle-aged woman. The first flutterings of recognition of eating disorders was and may still be, aimed almost exclusively at teenage females.

                    To move on in time!

                    When I met my ex husband (at age 17), I by then was firmly entrenched in the behaviour pattern of viewing food as something more than nourishment. If ever he and I argued, I'd reach for the chocolate box or the biscuit tin. He too loved his food, and I began to draw him into my own psychology, whereby we perceived food as a treat, a comforting thing, a thing which gave pleasure outside of simply having a reasonable meal then forgetting about it until teatime or whatever.

                    My ex and I's courtship largely revolved around a shared decadence. This expanded outwards from food into drug use, but that's another issue which I've already written about on DooYoo. We gloried in going out for slap-up meals, relished the taste, texture, smell and everything else about food. At one time, and I'm ashamed to admit this, on a day out in London we even went for a huge meal in one restaurant, came out, then immediately went into the restaurant next door and had another massive blowout! I will speak for myself here though rather than him - it didn't matter that I was bloated and full up beyond my limits - I just wanted to keep eating, as it allowed me to continually suppress the things in life I wasn't happy about.

                    Even with this gargantuan phase of eating, I still didn't put on a massive amount of weight. I was reasonably slim on my wedding day and didn't need a crane to carry me up the aisle. It all changed though after the marriage and my ex and I lived our lives together. We were a tremendously bad influence on one another, and just lived for food and drugs.

                    As time went by, the weight began to pile on and by the end of the 1970s, I'd shot up to a huge size 26! Though I'm not short, I'm only of average height and I possibly looked bigger than somebody taller who was equally and overweight to myself.

                    Whilst going through the years of gradual weight gain, it hadn't occurred to me to try and lose it or watch what I ate. My mum would make the occasional remark that I was becoming like a beached whale, but I chose to ignore what she said, preferring to carry on stuffing my face. The only thing which did bug me a bit was that she seemed to have got her own eating habits under control, had regained the weight lost by induced vomiting in the 1960s, had started her own business, and was doing rather well. She suddenly had a distraction from making food the focal point of her life, be it over-indulgence or abstinence.

                    It was in about 1980 that I first began to notice other people (aside from my mum) were viewing me as a fat person. Though I knew I was overweight, I was in denial as regards the degree of the problem, and still tried to squeeze myself into clothes that only look good on really skinny people. Then the remarks and exaggerated gestures from others began to prick away at my self-esteem.

                    One day I was (after having squeezed myself into a painfully tight pair of jeans) walking along the street. Two small boys were playing nearby, and they stopped their play, just to stare at me. As I walked on, I heard one loudly whisper to the other.... "She's so FAT, isn't she" - to which the other replied.... "No, it's not fat. She's got a baby in there, or it might be two babies". Even though these were two little boys who weren't really old enough to have learned any kind of finesse regarding the way they express their observations on people, what they said stuck in my head and I arrived home feeling rather hopeless and ugly. Of course, my antidote for this negative feeling about myself was to raid the fridge!

                    It was about the same time as the above incident that I began to notice people on trains (as I commuted to and from London each day for work) would, when I went to sit next to them, move up much further than was really necessary to allow me space. If I got into an already crowded train carriage where there was one seat left in the middle of a row of people, they'd all make wildly exaggerated movements towards squeezing right up against one another, making space for somebody at least twice the size that I actually was.

                    Instead of receiving (as I did when younger) wolf whistles from the hard-hat brigade on building sites, I began to get insensitive comments and hootings about my weight.

                    I began to cover my body up. I wore long-sleeved tops, thick tights etc. on even the hottest of days, because I didn't want to show my flab to the world. It seemed easier than dieting. The fat I was carrying around with me made hot weather very uncomfortable, but being bunged up with too many clothes created an even worse problem; constant, copious sweating. I must have got through oceans of anti-perspirant during those years.....but, I still continued to eat. It made me feel better about being fat!

                    Then came the big depression (which I have already written about on DooYoo). It has to be said that the cause of my depression had absolutely nothing to do with my weight, and is irrelevant to this piece I'm now writing, but it was just as I was about to tip over into the bottom of the pit, that I visited my mum one very hot, humid day in the roasting hot summer of July 1983. I can't even remember what I was wearing, but as soon as I walked into my mum's house, she took one look at me (bear in mind I was almost at the end of my tether anyway), and shouted that I looked like a bag of sh*t tied up in the middle, and how on earth could a daughter of hers allow herself to become such a dowdy, fat slob! She then went on a tirade about how disgusted with and ashamed she was of me, that I'd let myself go to this degree.

                    Though I was cut to the core by what felt like a searing unkindness from the one person in the world who was supposed to care about me more than anybody else, it did do me some good in a strange sort of way. At the very least, it brought to the surface my own negative feelings about the size I'd become.

                    Just a day or so after those observations hurled at me by my mother, something happened at work which made me even more self-conscious about my weight. One of the young guys and I were talking, and the subject got onto music. He asked me what I liked (a bored look coming over his face; he was just asking out of politeness), so I gave him a quick rundown on my likes and dislikes regarding all things musical. Gobsmacked, he stated that he didn't expect someone like me to like those kinds of music, so I demanded he explain himself. Embarrassed as I'd put him on the spot, he muttered something along the lines of believing that people who were as overweight as me didn't have much light in their personality or soul, therefore would have a pretty crap taste in music, art and the other finer aspects of life. I was too incensed, and rather injured of course, to try and explain to him that fat people are PEOPLE, that carrying a few extra lbs or stones round on your frame doesn't immediately render you a complete philistine. Bearing in mind how I consider myself to have a wondrous taste in music which is classy and myriad, I felt that this work colleague's unintentional putdown dug deeper than what my mum had called me a couple of days previously.

                    To cut some long stories from the next six or so months short, I was rather impressed by the slow but sure weight loss of one of my work colleagues. In a short space of time, she had turned from a sluggish, pale-faced, angry-looking, very overweight girl with big attitude, into a smiling, rosy-cheeked, slim and very pretty young woman. I asked her how she'd managed to do this, and she told me all about the F-Plan diet, stating that she'd lost 3 stones in six months, and had never felt better, both mentally and physically. At lunchtime, I visited W H Smiths and bought Audrey Eyton's F-Plan diet books, planning to begin my weight loss crusade on 1st January 1984. If she could do it, so could I?

                    Part of what helped me stick religiously to the F-Plan diet from 1.1.84 onwards, was the depression I was in. The depression came about as a result of something I did which was rather obsessive (to say the least), and I was able to transfer my obsession away from its root cause, onto adhering to my new diet plan. The day I began the diet, I weighed close to 21st and by April of the same year, I'd shed the first 3 of those stones. Despite being at the end of the line depression-wise, I was feeling physically so much better, and I was able to fit into clothes which were two sizes smaller (having said that about obsession, I must assert here, that I did diet sensibly). I ate a high fibre, low fat diet, three regular meals a day, with lots of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and good carbohydrate. I drank skimmed milk on my cereal, completely cut out chocolate, ice cream, cakes, curries, chips, burgers and everything else which had done me no good before. I found the diet very satisfying and didn't feel hungry once.

                    By 1.1.85, I weighed a much healthier 11st and by the summer of 1985, not only had my depression more or less vanished of its own accord (its disappearance had nothing to do with the weight loss as it was a separate issue entirely), but I was down to my ideal, normal weight. It felt so great to skip down the road instead of plod, brilliant to walk into an 'ordinary' shop to buy my clothes instead of Evans, I dropped two shoe sizes and revelled in hot weather once more. During 1986, and I don't mean this cruelly in the slightest, I managed to shift the biggest weight of all that was dragging me down.....my ex-husband!

                    As the years wore on, though I did eat things that I shouldn't have done, I ceased to binge and managed to keep to my normal body weight until the late 1990s. I was leading a full and happy life; one which didn't revolve around food. Even my mum said how much better I looked, and she began to tell me that she blamed herself for all my eating problems by trying to stuff food into my face that I didn't want when I was a very small child. For my mum to have admitted something like that, was a major development in 'positivising' our previously difficult relationship. It must be said here though that towards the end of my mum's life, she did relapse back into using food for manipulative purposes - again lots of long and convoluted stories as to why - weighing very little when she died in 1994. Before being hospitalised, her last days were spent in a rest home where some of the staff believed she had cancer due to her being skeletal, but all medical tests down that avenue proved negative. She all but starved herself to death; a dramatic reaction to lots of problems that were going on in her life during the early part of the 1990s.

                    Without going into detail as it will be boring to type as well as read, life took a few not so nice turns and I began to comfort-eat once more, after having kept all the blubber off for about 12 years. This time though, I have managed to keep my bingeing under control and yes, I am overweight now, but not morbidly so. I also have inured myself to any kinds of jibes made by other people about my appearance, but those are few and far between these days due to my age. People don't expect me to be young, slender and beautiful any more. I'm having to cope with a different kind of jibe now - those which are age-related. Suddenly I'm being seen as OLD, but I consider this to be the problem of the beholders, and not mine. I'm happy as I am now. OK maybe I could walk a bit faster if I lost a couple of stones, but in the whole scheme of things, I'm not going to drive myself into depression or insanity by worrying about what other people think.

                    I don't binge anymore, but I still have a large appetite and though I can live quite happily without chocolate, I do like to tuck into a huge tub of ice cream now and again. I consider these days that there are more important things in the world to worry about than whether I'm a few lbs overweight or not.

                    Society has taught us that we ideally should be sleek, slim and 'healthy'. Well, lots of overweight people are still healthy! Far too much emphasis is placed on fitting in as regards our appearance. There have been two fine examples of how gross I feel society has become in its lack of acceptance of people in general, and how many judge others solely by their outer appearance.

                    Example No.1 : Susan Boyle
                    ==================

                    Though I don't watch Britain's Got Talent on TV, I catch up with clips of it on YouTube. When this shy, middle-aged lady - obviously quite nervous at performing in front of a critical panel and a large audience - walked onto the stage, I was absolutely disgusted and enraged by the judges' and audience's initial reaction to her. As the camera panned across the audience, I saw a couple of women openly sniggering at Susan's appearance and they'd immediately labelled her as a no-talent frump! Then, the lady took the stage and sang! How dare those people, until they heard her sing, assume that Susan would be a worthless person, simply because she hadn't had a complete makeover?

                    Example No.2 : Kevin Skinner
                    ===================

                    This year, country singer Kevin Skinner won the grand final of America's Got Talent. I will never forget his first performance, even though the video clip has since been removed from YouTube due to copyright laws. Kevin strolled onto the stage, looking rather scruffy with his hat on the wrong way round and a guitar slung over his shoulder. On responding to the judges' questions, his voice was pure Kentucky and I feel pretty certain that the judges and audience were viewing him as one step up from a mountain man. Kevin admitted to being uneducated, and an out-of-work chicken catcher. What annoyed me most of all, was Piers Morgan's attitude - it wasn't all that far back in time that he'd been impressed by Susan Boyle and ashamed at his initial prejudice as regards her appearance, but here he was again doing exactly the same thing with Kevin Skinner. Then, like Susan, Kevin softly played his guitar and sang, with pure passion, pure feeling, pure emotion and total depth. OK Kevin's type of music in general doesn't appeal to me, but there's no doubt this man has a gift - so, what the hell does it matter what he looks like?

                    Interestingly, nobody appeared to give any negative pre-judgments regarding Eli Mattson's appearance when he first took the stage for his America's Got Talent audition (I have previously written a DooYoo review on him). Why? Well, Eli looked just as scruffy as Kevin Skinner, yet he happens to be instantly good-looking! What does that say about people in general? A lot!

                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                    What the hell does it matter what ANYBODY looks like, talented or not? Inside all of us lies a person with feelings, sensitivities, emotions and all things which add up to create the human condition. It shouldn't matter if those human qualities are covered up with a bit of extra padding and nobody should judge another person's abilities, talents or anything about them at all, simply because of their colour, race, sexual orientation, gender or....weight! Why should some overweight people (or anyone who doesn't conform to the very narrow and ignorant view that society has of what is acceptable/normal) have to work hard at taking jokes against themselves, simply because that's a coping mechanism for receiving constant, day in day out prejudice?

                    The old Red Indian adage says.... "Never judge a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins". I'm sure pretty much all of us are familiar with that piece of wisdom and agree with it, so why don't people practice a little more humanity to one another?

                    Just as a winding down note, the daughter of a friend of mine is now aged 41. She left school at age 18 with 5 A-levels, and began to train as a teacher. This girl has a lovely personality; she's kind, gentle, witty, funny, very intelligent and articulate, caring, and much more....yet, she has never had a boyfriend, let alone had a serious relationship or married....she has never had a successful job interview, so has been unemployed for all these years. Why, anyone might ask? Well, she weighs about 32st and the moment anybody claps eyes on her, they instantly judge her to be not a valid member of society, without even bothering to get to know her first!

                    Well, I've gone on and on for long enough now, and I could never talk about this topic in such an articulate and exquisite way as Hishyeness has done - so, over and out (for now!). All I can really say in summary to the world is, wake up, get real and have a heart, please! Whatever it is you view with such unfair prejudice, may one day happen to you.

                    Thanks for reading!

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                      21.10.2009 13:48
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                      It's easy to judge, but much harder to understand.

                      I have spent most of my adult life as a euphemism. Whether it was "Chief", or "Big Fella", "Big Guy" or other altogether less polite forms of address, I was called a variety of things that skirted around the undeniable fact that I was a very fat man. At my heaviest, I tipped the scales at a horrifying 350lbs (25 stone or close to 160 kilos) and was eating myself to death.

                      According to the stereotype, I am nothing but a lazy, selfish, thoughtless, greedy, gross, smelly, inconsiderate, and weak-willed loser with nothing of note to contribute to society other than to keep McDonald's, KFC and big and tall men's shops in business. I am supposed to be jolly and fun-loving, self-deprecating and willing to laugh along at people's fat jokes.

                      Why? Because you see, it was all my fault. It was my fault that I could not stop cramming food down my pie hole. If only I would get off my fat arse and exercise more. If I only I stopped eating junk food and watching TV all day. If only I cared about someone else other than myself.

                      If only.

                      If only it were that easy.

                      What galls me is that this attitude to overweight people isn't the province of the uneducated and stupid minority, it is a point of view peddled by society wherever you go and whatever you do - from the portrayal of fat people in films, to the magazines we buy, to the TV programmes we watch - it is everywhere - constantly spewed out by the media and constantly reinforced. I have even seen "fat people" consigned to Room 101 by people posting on this site.

                      So tell me. Why is a fat person different to an alcoholic or a drug addict? The sheer amount of information, support and sympathy available to those trying to recover from alcohol or substance abuse runs into the millions of pounds. Such sufferers turned to those substances as a comfort, as a crutch - to fill a hole in their lives they could not otherwise fill. So why is it that the same psychological and emotional problems that drive people to drink and drugs are not worthy of attention when the method of choice for abuse is food?

                      Fat people have become one of the few safe havens for societal abuse. You are free to belittle, insult, bully and destroy fat people in a way that you cannot with any other sector of society. We have laws against ageism, racism, disability, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, religion or sex but it's still OK to abuse fat people. Why?

                      Because the perceived wisdom is that it's their fault.

                      Fat people should pay more to travel if their girth can't squeeze completely into their seat - at least Ryanair think so. Fat people should be exempt from treatment on the NHS. Fat people should be forced to pay a tax on junk food. Fat people should pay more for their clothes. In other words, as a society, we are saying that fat people are entirely at fault for their own condition in a way that an anorexic, bulimic, smoker, drug addicts and others who are vulnerable and need of support are not.

                      So what's it actually like being a fat man? As someone who has busted loo seats, regularly used extension belts on aeroplanes, had several "wardrobe malfunctions", broken a hotel bed, failed to squeeze into a rental car, capsized a canoe, got stuck in a shower door and snapped his season ticket seat at Highbury, I can tell you it is a daily ritual of humiliation. You start your day wondering not whether something depressing is going to happen that day, but how many separate incidents of degradation you will be subjected to.

                      Let's get one thing straight. I did not choose to be fat. It was not a choice I made. It's something that seemed to happen to me against my will and despite my best intentions. - something that I found myself quite incapable of stopping. Eating was a self-destructive behaviour for me. I approached food in the same way a smoker looks at a cigarette - I know it's bad. Two university degrees have given me the book knowledge to understand the abuse I was subjecting my body to. But knowing it and being able to stop it are two very different things.

                      I have been overweight since I was thirteen. I was shy with girls with zero confidence, I was the last kid picked for sports, I was never invited to parties, I retreated into the refuge of geekdom with other misfits and outcasts, and, in an effort to get people to see something other than my belly and man boobs, I became a "larger than life" personality - the clown, the jolly fat boy, he of the witty comeback and dry sarcasm - he who would not stop talking.

                      I was desperate for people to focus on something other than my size. I'd rather be known for talking too much than eating too much. However, whatever I tried, I look back on my late teens and early twenties and see how I reverted back to type. At uni in the USA, I won a hot dog eating competition. At uni in London I won a pizza eating competition. Wherever I went, my size became a focus. I started revelling in it and confusing my physical appearance with my actual identity. It became a self fulfilling prophecy. People expected me to act in a particular way, and desperate for acceptance, I indulged them, all the while becoming slowly, but surely, larger and larger.

                      I stopped going out. I avoided people and places because I was ashamed of myself with no self-esteem. I could not love myself so I could not imagine how any one would want to love me. I alienated friends who cared because they showed concern for where I was headed. My strategy was one of denial. I convinced myself that this was the way I was meant to be, that I was actually happy with myself. Yet I had no mirrors in my house because I could not stand to look at myself. I avoided photos like the plague and did not want to spoil others pictures by being in them and dominating the frame. When I had no choice I hid behind other people so only my face was visible.

                      My health problems mounted. My joints were creaking. I was continually out of breath. Climbing a set of stairs was a challenge. Moving was a challenge. At work I would stockpile work and print it all off at once to minimise trips to the printer. I developed piles, rashes, fungal infections, spots and sores in unusual places, and, on my last visit to the GP, I was told I would hotly have to start insulin injections to manage my diabetes as my blood sugar was out of control.

                      This was my life and I felt powerless to do anything about it. Every time I started a diet I'd last a week and then relapse. The one time I did lose significant weight was in the nine months before I got married. Somehow, some way, I had found my future wife despite my emotional and psychological issues and I wanted to look good for our wedding. I did Atkins and managed to shift four stone, yet it was not in the least bit sustainable. I managed to put on ten pounds on my honeymoon as I gorged on all of the foods I had deprived myself of in the previous nine months. By the last day, I could not fit into my swimming trunks.

                      In the eight years since I was married, I put on eight stone - one stone a year. Whatever I tried would not last - I could not stay the course. Six years ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, yet neither that - nor the impending arrival of my daughter - could get me out of the circle of failure I found myself in. I could not break the cycle and I became morose, depressed and introspective. The heavier I got the less energy I had. The less energy I had the less I wanted to move. The less I moved the more I put on weight. The more weight I put on the more depressed I got. The more depressed I got the more I ate.

                      The amount of justification and denial that I managed to generate in the face of all evidence against was staggering. My calves were in great shape (obviously - supporting 350 lbs will shape and tone them quite nicely). I was "happy" to live a slightly shorter life as long as I enjoyed myself, especially as my wife would get a nice lump sum on my death (I actually thought they would be better off without me for a time). Some people are just meant to be the way I was - that was life. Actually, it wasn't. It was a living death. A slow, living death.

                      Fortunately for me, something snapped in me and whatever it was that was holding me back and keeping me imprisoned in my body no longer had that power over me. In my head, I decided enough was enough and embarked on a programme of sustainable, common sense weight loss which has seen me shed six stone in the last ten months. I am still four and a half stone from target, but having shifted what I have, my life is now unrecognisable from the train wreck it had become just before Christmas last year.

                      I wish I could put my finger on exactly what motivated me to change my life. If I could, it would undoubtedly help others in the same dire situation. However, this is not really a piece about how to lose weight - it's about giving you an insight into what it's like to be morbidly obese.

                      We are not on the whole ignorant, lazy, greedy and selfish - we did not plan to be this way. It's not a state we enjoy being in. We are not pigs in muck. You don't buy our love or respect with a cheeseburger. For me, laughing off the insults, jibes, abuse, snide comments and dirty looks was a self-defence mechanism - we are not jolly because we want to be, we are not self-deprecating because we enjoy it - we do it to survive, often employing the tactic that if you take the piss out of yourself first, then others are less likely to.

                      The answer for all who are fat seems so simple. Eat less, exercise more. The weight loss equation is a no brainer - if you consume less than you expend, you lose weight. It sounds a doddle doesn't it? It sounds perfectly reasonable to say "all he/she has to do is..."

                      Maybe that's why society is so unsympathetic. All a fat person has to do is stop eating. But that's why it's so bloody hard. You don't need alcohol to survive, you don't need drugs to survive, and cigarettes are not a recognised food group - but you need food to live. You can't go cold turkey on food. You are telling people who can't regulate their food intake for a variety of reasons to continue to eat, but by some miracle find the off switch at just the right time. Still sounding simple? Still sounding easy?

                      Fat people. FAT people. How about fat PEOPLE? Think about that the next time you're tempted to wade in with a snarky comment. How does it reflect on you as a person if you get your kicks by making other people feel miserable? Fat people have feelings too. They were not born with thick skin - the constant, relentless and daily assault by the people they share this planet with ensure that they have to develop one to make it through each and every day with their sanity, dignity and whatever shred of self-esteem they are clinging on to - intact.

                      I spent most of my adult life as a euphemism. I was "pleasantly plump", "generously proportioned", and "big-boned". I got tired of being a euphemism. I got tired of being fat. I had a stark choice, either accept my life and leave my children fatherless, my wife a widow and myself short-changed, or finally do something about it. The fact that it took me twenty years to finally get my head in a space where I could actually do, rather than wish I could do - should tell you everything you need to know about what it is like to be imprisoned in fat.

                      Lazy, thoughtless, selfish and inconsiderate. Is that you, or the person you're sneering at? Think about it before you sit in judgement.

                      © Hishyeness 2009

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                        16.07.2009 18:29
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                        eat healthy and EXERCISE

                        Obesity, a word that is been heard more and more often with a rise in obese children and babies. I believe childhood obesity is mainly down to the change in lifestyle for parents, with parents working and not making home made food and fast food, crisps and fizzy drinks playing a great part.

                        Some children are greedy, I know because my 2 year old would eat untill he was sick if we let him and when I was a child I would have done the same, my son as got my appetite and from the day he was born he was never full, my 7 month old son is very different and only eats what he needs often leaving some of his food.

                        Parents are the main cause of there children's obesity and I believe it is cruel to feed your children untill they are fat, I was always a fat child and it has led to a lot of problems later in life, I am still obese and suffer from serious depression because of it, I was always teased at school and in the street and because of this I will do anything in my power to make sure my children stay healthy.

                        I am however not in agreement with parents who don't feed there children sweet things at all, it seems to be a new craze and I believe it can only lead to problems when there children grow older, I believe that everything is ok in moderation and the key to beating obesity is exercise and a balanced diet, my 2 year old goes on long walks and runs around the garden for hours and crisps, chocolate are just as big a treat as having an apple or some raisins.

                        As an obese person I know how hard it is to lose weight, at 28 I am the same weight I was at 16 having had 2 children, I don't over eat anymore but I find it very hard to exercise as I am a stay at home mum and spend most of my time doing house work and feeding and changing my 2 children, I only get chance to exercise on the weekend.

                        I wish my parents had done more and not let me eat so many sweets and crisps as a young child, however I would probably still be obese now I might I would probably have the confidence to do something about it.

                        I defiantly suffer from health problems due to my obesity, I get tired quite easily and suffer from lots of minor health issues.

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                          23.05.2009 01:03
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                          My weight loss journey.

                          Member's advice on weight loss:

                          (Update: Week One: 8th June 2009):

                          Well now week one is over and I have lost 5lbs! I am really happy with that and it is has spurred me on to keep going and not slip back into my old habits. I have been desperate to weigh myself every day just to see if any more weight has come off but I have managed to wait a week and I am glad I did.

                          Although I set a start date I found that in the days running up to it I was naturally exercising more and eating less. I seem to have done a good job of convincing myself that this is what I want and that I am going to succeed. At the moment I think that may be the key to success, a positive attitude as clichéd as that sounds!

                          I was expecting to be hungry constantly but I really haven't been and the thought of most of the junk I would eat actually makes me feel a bit queasy now! I am really enjoying this diet and generally taking better care of myself and my depression seems to be better than normal too. I guess that is partly down to having a better diet and partly because I am taking control of my life and doing something positive that is just for me.

                          5lbs may not seem a lot but it has already made a difference. My clothes are looser than they were and I have more energy. I have been naturally more active doing housework, exercise and generally buzzing round like a mad thing. My house is spotless and I have done so much cross stitch and crafting as well as the odd review and lots of reading. How can I not be happier?!

                          I played my first round of golf too, (all 18 holes and over 3 miles of walking), which was so awesome. Golf may look like a boring, old man sport but I couldn't have enjoyed it more. I played at a golf club in Clevedon in North Somerset which has the most amazing scenery. Part of it is really 'countryside', all fields, ponds and a river and beautiful farm houses in the distance and part of it is literally right on the seaside. It was breathtaking and I didn't realise I was walking further than I have in many years. It is great exercise for your whole body too; swinging those clubs round is really hard work especially when you consider that I took about 30 odd swings per hole because I am rubbish! (Actually I am not that bad, my drive is straight and I actually got two holes one over par).

                          Something that has really helped is you guys' support, it is so nice that people care and having that support really makes a difference. I would recommend writing a blog or an op on here to anyone loosing weight as then you are not doing it alone. My Mum, the other half and my friends are great too, they are even eating healthier and exercising with me which means they will be 'buff' before too long as they really don't have the weight to loose.

                          Something I have found tricky is drinking all that water; I hate water and especially the smell. Most people claim they cannot smell water but I can and it makes me feel sick. Drinking bottled water helps but I don't agree with it on an environmental level, (transporting all that water really does waste fuel, the plastic packaging has an enormous environmental impact and the energy used in the process is unjustifiable), so I will be buying a water filter soon to see if that helps the problem at all.

                          The heat was tough too, who wants to exercise in boiling weather? When you are overweight the heat seems to affect you more and I was really getting out of puff quite quickly, at least it made me thirsty enough to drink all that water!

                          I haven't been sleeping well, which I think is because I just have so much more energy than normal and I seem to be mentally more active too. I am not tired though so maybe I just don't need all that sleep! Hopefully it will level out and I will be able to get a good six hours a day.

                          Well there is not much more to say this week the next update will be 15th June after two weeks. I have my monthly lady problem approaching so that will be interesting as I always get bloated, crave chocolate and become especially sluggish around that time of the month so we will have to see how it goes.

                          ********************************************************************

                          (Original Review):

                          I have a heck of a lot of weight to loose. I have put so much on due my illness, (agoraphobia), which means I don't go out and I just sit around getting bored the whole time which leads to snacking! I also have no willpower and I do all the food shopping! It's got to the stage now where I am getting a bad back and cramp in my legs so I want to get in shape as quickly as is safely possible.

                          I have another reason to loose weight as well, I have decided to work hard to overcome my agoraphobia and in three years I will be going on the holiday of a life-time; first Houston in Texas, then a road-trip to Mexico, then Cuba, then back to Mexico where I will be flying to New Zealand, then across to Brisbane next will be a stop-off in Singapore before a long weekend in Amsterdam and then home! (We want to see and experience some of the things we've always wanted to before we start a family). I want to be comfortable in airline seats so I have to shift my backside, literally!

                          I thought I would write this op as I go along and update weekly; I thought this would be the best way to convey the journey to you and would also make me stick to the plan as well; I don't want you all to read that I've put weight on! Lol! By the way I won't be happy to tell you how much I weigh, instead I'll put how much I loose each week and let you know at the end my new, healthy weight! Sorry if it seems like a cop-out but I'm fairly ashamed of the state I've let myself get in.

                          Along the way I'll be adding other "reviews" on to here of products I have used and even recipes I have found to be good. Hopefully combined they will be useful to anyone needing to loose weight!

                          I'm obviously not a doctor or a dietician so this is just what I am doing and my advice. If you have a lot of weight to loose or your BMI is over 30 then you should see a doctor before dieting.

                          Okay, the first step of any plan is, well, planning! Here's what I intend to do before my diet starts:

                          1) Set a start date.

                          This lets you work up to the diet and start a fresh. I am choosing Monday 1st June 2009. Psychologically a Monday is a good day as the start of a new week, the perfect time for a new start. Don't make the mistake of binging everyday until your start date, you'll just have to work harder, instead start cutting back on the problem products, (mine are chocolate, bread, cheese and energy drinks), so it's less of a shock to the system!

                          2) Find out your exact weight and your BMI:

                          Pop to Boots or your doctor's surgery and get an accurate weight taken. You can use this to ensure your home scales are accurate. Use your home scales to give you a weekly loss amount but every couple of months get re-weighed using the professional scales so you can keep an eye on your weight accurately. You can work out your BMI using your height and weight at lots of sites online, most will also tell you what a healthy BMI for your height is. Write these numbers down in a notebook and update them regularly.

                          I'm going to take monthly photos, (one close up and one full body shot), and then stick them in my notebook so I can see the weight coming off. This is useful because you will not notice the weight coming off but seeing the photos will make it more obvious so you can see the reward of all your hard work.

                          3) Tell the people close to you:

                          Make sure everyone around you knows you are loosing weight and that you taking it seriously. Tell them that trying to tempt you will not be appreciated and that you need their support. Most people will be fine with this. It can be embarrassing but it's important that people at work aren't going to be waving a cake in your face and saying, "go on, it won't hurt", because it will!

                          4) Bin the junk:

                          The night before your start date throw away any junk food that is lying around! Bin the crisps, chocolate etc that you won't be eating. Obviously you can have the odd treat but these need to be structured into your eating plan and having loads of snacks around will test your willpower too much, if the kids/other half have snacks keep them in a plastic tub with their names or even a picture of them on so you know to stay away! Also hide the take-away menus so they are not in your face; if every time you go to the fridge you see your favourite take-away menu, just hanging there, you may cave in!

                          5) De-clutter:

                          This is a great tip that will really help if you can manage it. Go through all your clothes and get rid of all the ones that don't suit you or that you don't wear or that just don't fit. Give them to charity, sell them on eBay, or recycle them. If they are really past it bin them. I have a load that I am salvaging for quilt making! Freecycle is a good place to get rid of things like that. Don't make the mistake of keeping things that are too small because you will loose weight and they will fit you again, they will be a weight around your neck and you will be frustrated when you can't fit into them after a week or so! If they are nice then sell them and keep the money for your new wardrobe when you are skinny, lol, after all one of the benefits of loosing weight is new clothes!

                          Clearing out the rest of your stuff will also help you clear your mind. It's good exercise too and the result will be a lovely clean house! Be ruthless and you will feel better for it.

                          6) Fill up your day:

                          Plan activities for your spare time, this will help avoid boredom which can lead to snacking. I have a pile of cross-stitching to do, a huge list of reviews planned, I am going to watch all of my DVDs and review them, I will try to do more surveys and I am going to keep on top of the house-work too! With all that I will be busy and hopefully, too busy to get bored and hungry! Going for a walk is great too as it is good exercise but not being able to go out I will have to make do with my Wii!

                          7) Sort out your eating plan:

                          I have got all the calorie amounts for my favourite food and drink written down, for instance my black coffee contains 5.4 calories. This is useful and there are loads of websites that feature this information. I have managed to plan a pizza and a lasagne that are within my calorie limits so I will still be able to eat my favourite food! I think it's a good idea to start the plan in the summer when eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables won't be such a chore.

                          It's also a good idea to plan your first few week's meals out; after a while you will be able to prepare food on the fly but while you are getting used to the plan structured "menus" should help. Loads of web-sites have low calorie recipes.

                          I am using Slimfast because I am a nightmare when it comes to making food for me during the day, I just don't see the point on going to that effort for just me: I just end up eating crap!

                          8) Sort out your exercise plan:

                          Get a DVD or two or find some exercises on the net. Try to pick exercises that you will enjoy or you won't be motivated to keep it up. If you want to go to the gym that is cool but don't bother paying out all that money of you aren't going to go. Something like a Wii fit or a piece of gym equipment is great if you have the money and space. Skipping is something I intend doing, a rope is cheap and it's great exercise too. There are lot's of things you can do to burn calories, for instance, hovering uses approximately 40-60 calories per fifteen minutes depending on your weight and climbing stairs uses approximately 200 calories per fifteen minutes!

                          9) Start using a good moisturiser:

                          When you loose weight your skin needs to shrink back to fit your new body so keep it well moisturised and elastic so that it will! Something like bio oil will help minimise stretch marks too.

                          General pampering will help improve your mood as well as making your body look as good as possible. It's important to build a positive relationship with your body while you are loosing weight.

                          So that's the fist step done. I am all ready and waiting for June 1st. I am quite excited actually, wish me luck!

                          (I will update on June 8th after a week of my diet).

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                            15.01.2009 16:36
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                            Don't get too fat to fly.

                            Too Fat To Fly?

                            The growing problem of obesity is I believe linked to something which I feel has a lot to do with how society has changed. I saw An Air Crash Investigation recently called "Too Fat To Fly" about a small shuttle in 1994 which crashed on take off killing all on board. The reason- the passengers were too heavy and the growing size of people had thrown the calculations of the weight so that the trim was unbalanced. The plane nose dived to earth in Charlotte, North Carolina. A tragedy to watch but a side effect of the way we are going.

                            In 1894 when my grandmother was born life was hard. People had very large families and then it was a question of was there going to be enough to eat? Life was also a lot more physical as there were no cars and most jobs were in labouring and working outside. Not only this but all women stayed at home and kept the house and the family. However my gran had a repertoire of over 100 recipes for stodge and yet no one she cooked for got fat! Why? - because they ate currant sponge and custard and were satisfied. They had no hangs ups saying "can't touch that it's too fatty!" They didn't go on to consume another 1000 calories in the evening through boredom, sadness or otherwise. It was dark and by candlelight they had time to sit and reflect and to talk and share their emotions.

                            Now I am not suggesting for one moment that women are the cause of obesity because they now work outside the home. My daughters are both professional women and one of them would shudder at the thought of abandoning her career as a vet (which in 1894 would have been unheard of) to keep house and put healthy food on the table. However it is all so different now and with sedentary jobs and the vast array of fatty food available together with the endless stress which is placed upon us as parents things are on a downhill slope. From the need to involve ourselves in the school day (those parent's evenings now in the afternoon!) through to the homework we are encouraged to help with when we get home from work ourselves it is a timetable for disaster. Between acting as out of school teachers and holding down jobs, not to mention the fact that as we all move around the country to seek work and livelihoods this leaves many of us with grandparents far away. We often lose out on childcare but then need to travel long distances to be carers ourselves when they fall ill. All this and we haven't even said hello to our partner at the end of the day, and so open a bottle of wine and a few snacks to make a date in a mad and chaotic day.

                            Working longer and longer hours and with growing expectations of what we can achieve we are often left frazzled and emotionally starved. This is I feel when for some of us food becomes the comforter. Who can blame us when we can't even remember the last time we all sat together to eat?

                            I recently had the privilege of meeting a French family who live near to Bordeaux in South West France. The family have 4 children and when I met them I could see in the dining room there was a beautiful white tablecloth all set with shining silver cutlery for their forthcoming meal. The French put great emphasis on eating and dining on fresh and home cooked food, but with the pressures of life and the influences of other nations this is sadly reducing, and fast food is on the increase there as it is all over the West.

                            So I blame the rise in obesity on the fact that we are not happy as people as much as we could be, but it is not our fault it is the fault of society and the question is how do we stop it? How do we juggle being parents, cleaning, looking after elderly relatives, playing do-gooders in the community, together with being Jamie Oliver at the end of the day?

                            My advice is controversial because as a nurse I suppose I should say all the dangers of being overweight in relation to heart disease and to diabetes. However I believe it is time to stop quoting scary tactics, but promoting how to care for ourselves and love ourselves more as individuals, taking account of the fact that we have all got very hard lives, and that we juggle so many things our ancestors would have looked on in horror.

                            I read a fantastic review on Dooyoo recently where someone said he believed he was overweight because as a child his parents were poor. As a result sweets and little treats like that were used instead of the horse riding and sailing lessons being enjoyed by those in the better off households.These expensive hobbies which used up time in their own way were removing the concept that food was a treat. This I believe is the problem that I had as a child because we were quite poor and I had a view of sweet things being a treat. By the time I was growing up my mum was working and I felt as if they were struggling to make ends meet, and I did feel emotionally starved. The cakes my gran would have cooked to sustain my mother were food, but by the time my mum bought them they were out of that purpose and were to me a treat to be enjoyed instead of what I really craved which was someone to understand me and who I was.

                            Freezers came in around then and with that the supply of things not for a purpose got storage. Peas are ok but what about frozen deserts and cakes which can be quickly defrosted. We all know what a comfort it is to eat a pot of Ben and Jerry's when we are sad and lonely, but to do this every day is telling you something.

                            Frankly I am sick of Government messages about healthy eating- instead I think we should abandon all scare tactics and start to value ourselves and be teaching children at a young age how to care for themselves as individuals. We also need to slow our lives down and take time to stop and watch the birds and teach our children to do the same so that some nights in the week they come home to do very little but just be.


                            Part of this behaviour encourages an awareness of hunger as a feeling so it can be satisfied rather than eating large amounts quickly. It actually takes 20 minutes to feel full so by eating slowly and listening to your body you can stop earlier.

                            Diets should be stopped and binned because they all have an end to them. Eating should be seen as a pleasure to be enjoyed slowly and deliberately so that when you have eaten sufficient you get the message-I am full. Just knowing what foods make you feel better helps. I used to explain to my children if we were having oranges where they were grown and how wonderful the places were. For mealtimes I sat them down as babies and spoke to them and when they were older they helped me in the kitchen.

                            I do believe parents have a role to play in teaching their children what to eat by example, but make no mistake it isn't easy when you are shattered and just fancy a chip supper. However the obesity rate is climbing steadily and it's frightening.


                            All my family grew up to have healthy weights and cook for themselves but they are all happy to eat take always every now and again, there is nothing wrong with a chip supper sometimes as it is part of the British culture.

                            Buying fresh ingredients is in my opinion the greatest barrier to healthy eating. You can go to Tesco buy a week's veg and by the 4th day it can be shrivelled and gets binned. Most people don't have the time to visit their local greengrocer which is so sad because this is the way to healthy eating- to actually buy fresh produce more than once a week. For families it can be educational as children can learn what is in season and why it is important to buy this way to save money. Just now in January you can buy beautiful Cyprus potatoes. You can see them in the greengrocers and they are easy to spot as they are covered in rich red/brown soil sun baked by the Cypriot sun. The taste is like you have dug them up yourself and you can use this as a tool to teach children where these are grown. By eating fresh produce children get a taste for healthy eating and they miss it when it is denied to them. You can turn meals into a bit of a geography lesson even just with a passing comment like "this rhubarb is grown in Yorkshire where most of British rhubarb comes from"or "these raspberries are grown in Scotland-the climate is good for them as they like lots of rain"

                            I think that when you stop more and do less you actually eat less. On January 1st I looked out of my patio doors and saw two great tits going in and out of my nesting box as they do every year. The promise of new life to come which will be nurtured. These birds build a nest of the most beautiful soft down and great thought goes into the diet for their offspring.

                            We need to see that all this pressure we are under is leading us more and more to binge eat and drink and no one can be blamed for being obese. But if binge drinking really worked for people they would be happy but there are more prescriptions written for antidepressants than ever before. Try to include what I call feel good foods into meals especially those which contain tryptophan which helps the body to make serotonin (improves mood)and omega three fats. My short list of good foods are cheese (in moderation), beans, tofu, nuts, and eggs, but if you are a meat eater go for chicken, turkey and fish too. Ground flax seeds are full of omega three fats and help mood as do all raw nuts and seeds and avocado. If you are more energetic and in a good mood you are less likely to overeat. I have also had great success eating foods like beans, pulses, and porridge, which are low gi and make you feel satisfied for longer and keep the cravings for more calorie dense foods less strong.

                            Finally though with my nurse hat on if you have tiredness, are gaining weight, have a hoarse voice, or are losing the outer third of your eye brows please visit your GP for a thyroid test as an underactive thyroid can cause weight gain. There are one or two other conditions as well which can affect it and certain medications so if in doubt have a chat with the GP.

                            Other than that take every opportunity to slow down. Take a winter walk and look at the trees, stop at least twice a day and do nothing at all. Buy colourful fresh fruit and vegetables in season and teach the children about them. Treat yourself to some lovely bubbles for the bath or a new item of clothing rather than fatty food but don't give up your favourite foods see them as nourishment. Always set the table and sit quietly to eat.

                            Let's end obesity by calling food nourishment again and by ending the enemy words "slimming diets"

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                              14.01.2009 20:09
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                              It needs to stop being socially acceptable to be overweight or obese. Only then will people change.

                              Yesterday I watched the Half Ton Son. The son in question was only 19, but weighed nearly 60 stone. He was almost completely bedridden; his mother waiting on him all day long, bringing him big mac after big mac while he barely moved except to play on his xbox.

                              He was the world's fattest teenager, and was about to go into hospital to have a gastric bypass.

                              He and his mother had some real pyschological problems. His mother in particular was really messed up; she had lost her first son (not to obesity) and seemed to be trapping her remaining son in the house with all that food. She was pretty obese herself, and bought hundreds of dollars (yes, obviously they're american) worth of junk food into the house, eating some herself but the majority going to her disgustingly fat son. She knew she was literally killing him, but she was more concerned that he not 'want for anything' - possibly to block out the pain of his dead brother.

                              I mention this not because it's a typical case, but because of the way the American way of life seemed geared up to his horrendous condition: not only did he have clothes that fitted him, he had chairs, a bed and a car, all massively bigger than they should be, which he could fit into. Also, in the program I didn't see one person who wasn't at least a little bit overweight - granted it was a program about obesity, but I'm talking about the hospital staff, checkout assistants in the supermarket, customers of the supermarket etc. etc.

                              It's a grim foreshadow of what it will be like in the UK in a few years if things don't change. Already we have womens' clothes that go up to size THIRTY TWO. This is simply encouraging people to overeat; if the clothes weren't available they might make some effort to change. It is said that the average woman in the UK is a size 16. This means that the average woman is OV-ER-WEIGHT and unhealthy!

                              We all know how obesity happens and how we can prevent it, but it seems the solution falls on deaf ears more often than not.

                              And it's becoming more and more socially acceptable to be overweight - at a certain age, it is almost expected; 35 year olds who are normal and healthy are praised for their 'great figures' and overweight people are paraded on shows like How to Look Good Naked as having 'great boobs' and a 'tiny waist' when in reality their waist is about 38", putting them at great risk of type 2 diabetes. Wake up people!

                              Ok, I'm generalising a lot here, but we tiptoe around the issue so much in the UK in case we offend people, someone needs to say it.

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                                12.12.2008 14:33
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                                don't judge a book by it's cover

                                Obesity is a major problem not only in the UK but in most countries nowadays. I'm not going to babble on about facts and figures because we all know them but I will tell you how I became obese and how my day to day struggle with it.

                                I am 25 and weigh an embaressing 16 stone and at 5'5" I am in medical terms obese my body fat was at last measurement 40% of my bodyweight.

                                I put on weight after having my daughter 2 years ago before falling pregnant with her I was 12 stone so not skinny but not obese, I put it down to genetics as all women in my family were a size 16-18.
                                Anyway after giving birth to my daughter I did the healthy eating and exercising thing and once again reached my pre baby weight.

                                Anyone who has a new baby knows that your own appearance isn't the top of your list in the early days.

                                I didn't notice the weight creeping on. Well it wasn't creeping on more like rushing on.
                                Everything I liked about my body disapeared into a big wobberly blob.
                                I was so ashamed and I wasn't even eating anymore than usual! I know what you are thinking she must have been scoffing to put on 4 st in just 17mths but I didn't.

                                I was more active so I went to the doctors who tested me and found out that I had an under active thyroid.
                                It was so nice to hear that I wasn't obese because of my eating but because of a medical condition.
                                I only wish I went to the doctors before I put on so much weight.
                                Living a life obese feels like I'm living half a life.
                                I am embaressed to take my kids swimming and on funfair rides im scared incase my bum gets stuck (it never has and I have room on them ) but it is a fear I have.
                                I was assured that the weight will fall off when my medication was regulated which it is and it upsets me to say it hasn't. I have little options as I am stuck with this condition for the rest of my life, however I won't stop trying to lose it.

                                I now am because of my weight less confident and ironically half of the woman I used to be.
                                Next time you see a fat person don't just think that it's because they eat to much. There is a lot of different reasons people are over weight and obese and eating too much is only one of them.

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                                  16.07.2008 19:02

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                                  get more active and eat less

                                  This is going to be the biggest killer of our children's generation. Obesity is defined as being more than about 1st overweight or having a BMI above 29.

                                  I think one of the biggest problmes we have these days is not only the vast abundance of food we all have access to and junk food particularly but the lack of activity we have in our daily lives.

                                  Most people years ago would walk or cycle to work/school, these days we all jump in our cars. Plus people used to have very active jobs and be on the go all day, children would be out playing for hours on end, now we're all too scared to elt our children out of sight due to our overactive imaginations fuelled by what we have been fed by the media.

                                  The only way we can combat this killler is to get more active, play football with your kids in the garden, go on bike rides together etc instead of sitting in fron of the telly and eat more fruit and veg and less of macc d's!!

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