I realized lately that over the years, I have had a number of male friends who were/are obese. While most people considered them to be scary or mean, I have found them to be the sweetest guys I know.
When my friend J. enters the pool, I can see strangers visibly stiffen when they see him. I think it's because he takes up so much space. It truly looks like he could hurt you, if he wanted to.
I gently asked J. about this and he mentioned that most people are mean to him. If he goes to a bar and there is a guy who's had a bad day, he always goes up to J. to try and pick a fight. J. is often quick tempered, and I think this is a reaction to this common situation.
Meanwhile, having had conversations with various obese friends, I keep finding that something or something along the way has hurt the guy and he has turned to food for comfort (although he usually doesn't acknowledge this). I've heard stories of being bullied in school, being bullied in the military, and of betrayal by loved ones.
So, while others see this big mean man, I see this little boy in pain, who has surrounded himself with a "protective" layer of fat.
And my friends always seem to be on a new path to weight loss. "I'm gonna be a vegan! I will do Weight Watchers! I will do P90X! I will work harder, I will fix it! Yes, I will". And then a month or two later they stop, gain back the weight and the cycle starts again.
I try not to be preachy, I try to be a friend, to support them and model good behavior. But I want to be helpful, I want them to heal. So, since I know that right now they are probably not in the right mental space to hear me, I will send this message out to the internet hoping that it finds them.
Keys To Sustained Good Health
1. Know that when people are mean to you, it is because they are scared. This doesn't excuse them, it just explains it a little better.
2. You need to find a non-food way to deal with stress or to celebrate. I know that food is cheap, easy and often pushed at you by various sources (commercials, parents) but it is not the solution. Do not use it as a drug.
3. You need to heal whatever it is inside that is hurting so badly. This may mean therapy, this may mean medication, suck it up and do it.
4. SUSTAINED WEIGHT LOSS WILL NOT WORK UNTIL #3 IS ADDRESSED
5. Ditch the fad diets and learn traditional nutritional basics: serving sizes, fiber, whole grains, etc.
6. Know that fitness is a life long journey. You will only be done when you are dead.
7. YOU DESERVE TO FEEL BETTER.