The first time I saw her, my mouth fell open. It was in the aerobics area of my gym. She was crouched over like it hurt to stand up straight. Yet she was going full speed on the elliptical. I have never seen anyone so thin. Not in a picture and not in real life. When I imagine poor starving people in Africa, they are porkers compared to her.
I immediately felt so bad for her. What must she imagine herself to look like? How much pain must she be in? What issues is she battling to be doing this to herself? I wanted to DO something or SAY something. I wanted to help her. Here is this woman who looks like a skeleton running like crazy on an elliptical. I had to make her stop. She is killing herself. I was about to say something when a scenario ran through my head.
If I walked into a McDonald's and saw a 400 pound woman eating 2 orders of french fries, a big mac, large coke and a milk shake....would I say anything to her? How would I feel if I was at a restaurant eating WAY too much food and the person in the booth next to me tried to *help* by saying that I was hurting myself and to please stop.
I began to think of many of the similarities between someone like her and someone like me. Both of our eating habits are killing us. We both are where we are because of major emotional issues. Both of us need help.
I wish morbid obesity received the same recognition among medical professionals as other medical problems like anorexia. Granted, my doctor is the first to tell me that being fat is going to kill me....and before it does, it will make me REALLY uncomfortable by giving me bad knees and sleep apnea. However the TREATMENT is sooooo different.
When I went to the doctor a few years ago to discover my blood pressure was so high I was almost hospitalized, the doctor yelled that I could have a stroke and die at any moment. She hollered that my weight and eating habits were to blame. She proceeded to say in the most patronizing tone, "For breakfast, have a piece of fruit. For lunch have 4 oz of baked chicken breast with a salad and 1 tablespoon of fat free dressing. For dinner, have a small potato with NO butter and a SMALL piece of chicken. DO NOT have any snacks. If you absolutely can NOT handle not having dessert, then have ONE cookie on a plate with a tall glass of fat free milk."
She looked at me like "You're welcome. Problem solved." I half expected her to smack me on the forehead and shout "Hallelujah!" So simple, huh?
Now if the woman mentioned earlier came into this same doctor's office, would this doctor yell, "Anorexia is killing you!" And then sit back and say, "For breakfast have an omelet with tons of cheese and bacon. Make sure you snack on potato chips all day. For lunch have a huge slice of pizza with pepperoni. Each night have a pint of Ben and Jerry's."
Would that have been her answer? No. Someone with anorexia gets treated for the CAUSE of her eating disorder along WITH the symptoms. A fat person gets advice on how to fix the symptom but not the cause.
A morbidly obese person's *illness* is the obesity in itself. The fact that they weigh too much. A person with anorexia's *illness* isn't that they weigh too little. The illness is the mental disposition. What is happening on the inside. And that is what needs to be treated for the person to heal.
I'm not saying it's the same for overweight people as it is for people who suffer from anorexia. And I'm not even saying that it's the same for every overweight person. I'm just saying that there is no way that a person can become morbidly obese just because they like Snickers bars too much. There is more under the surface. And it has to be dealt with for any success to be long term.
The saddest part is that this women on the elliptical was trying hard to put on a show. She had a ton of make up on with bright red lips, and her long blonde hair was perfectly straightened and spayed in place. It's like she was almost pleading silently for every one to believe that she was ok and happy with herself. It's ok to not be ok. There is no shame in it. We are all dealing with something. We all have issues to work through. And what matters is that we DO.