This was the quote that stunned me in a recent Huffington Post article that quoted British Journalist Samantha Brown. Let me repeat what she said, “Nothing in life signifies failure better than fat.”
For the record, this is NOT true! Being overweight is not the same thing as being a failure. However–as a former overweight person–I can attest that at times I had trouble knowing the difference. And that’s why I think this statement hit a nerve with me.
I’m a therapist and that means, I help people face and overcome their challenges. But for years, while struggling with my weight, I had trouble overcoming my own challenges. Mainly because I didn’t know what they all were. I focused on diet and exercise by running marathons and trying crash diets, but I always seemed to gain more than I lost.
And it was having my outcome not match my efforts that made me feel like a failure and a phony. I’d ask myself, “How can I help others if I can’t even help myself?”
But it was this question rather than Ms. Browns statement that helped me realize that getting a keeping a healthy weight takes more than an individual to achieve. And that’s because we’re all impacted by our relationships.
Ms. Brown made mention of this in her article when she said, she has chosen male partners who will help her stay thin. Her husband, she wrote, “has told me that if I put on weight, our marriage is over.”
Dr. Nickolas Christakis, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. published his research on the correlation of relationships and weight in the New England Journal of Medicine. And here were his major findings:
1) A person had a 57% chance of becoming obese if his/her friend became obese in the same interval.
2) A person had a 40% chance of becoming obese if their sibling become obese.
3) A person had a 37% chance of becoming obese if their spouse become obese.
So he concluded that obesity spreads through social ties.
So fat is less about personal failure and more about how it’s being supported in that person’s significant relationships.
Once I realized how my relationships were impacting my weight I invested more time into uncovering that aspect rather than jumping around from one diet to the next. The Result? I lost 46 lbs and have kept it off for three years now.
p.s. If you’d like to take a look at the two articles I mentioned here they are: