The Benefits Of Being Fat

I've been losing weight now since the middle of November. I needed to do it, my cholesterol numbers were looking a little iffy, and I weighed more than I ever had in my life. I was around 225 and actually bought a chair that told me I weighed too much to sit in it safely. That was it. I called up Nutrisystem and started their plan.

Part of the plan is what they call the Mindset Makeover. It's not a plan that brainwashes you to do Nutrisystem. Stop saying that. It's a plan that brainwashes you into thinking in a healthy way about your appetite and your goals. The only thing "Nutrisystem" about it is that it's from them and it has Nutrisystem all over the paperwork. But it's just a way of learning to set goals and follow them through.

But in following it, you have to think through why you're overweight or obese and how to get yourself out of it. And a lot of people on the forums talk about how they slide back into old habits and nothing seems to work. Well, I realized that there's got to be something that's keeping us there, that's keeping us fat. There must be some kind of benefit to being fat that we keep exploiting. And so I thought about it and came up with three benefits of being fat that we have to sacrifice before we are what AA calls "entirely ready" to get on with a lifestyle change like losing weight.

I put this together into a blog post at Nutrisystem, and the response was so positive, I thought I'd put here on my main blog. Enjoy!

I had to say goodbye to smoking. It was like a bad relationship. It took some time, but eventually you can say goodbye to all of it. The good isn't all that great, and the bad is pretty bad, indeed. But I had to be ready to give up what I liked about smoking -- the nicotine, having something to do with your hands, etc. It was only then that quitting smoking finally took.

Well, it's the same thing with being fat. There are benefits to being fat. Let's list them together, shall we?

1. Being fat is a great way to constantly punish yourself.

That's a benefit? Oddly enough, it is. Not everybody is like this, but I fear a great many of us are. I won't go into reasons why we might feel like we need to punish ourselves because I'll bet as soon as you read that sentence, you recognized whether it was true about you or not.

Well, I'll mention one -- one of the worst ones. We deserve to be punished because we let ourselves get this fat! That causes a vicious feedback loop. We need to be punished because we let ourselves get this fat, so we keep shoveling the food in.

So our fat becomes both our sin and our absolution. We learn to put up with the stares, the inconvenience, and the health problems because after all, who put us into this mess? We did! And that becomes an odd comfort -- at least we're shouldering our own cross!

A more rational response to this is to get rid of the fat, get it down to a healthy level. Then you can take a sense of accomplishment from making yourself better and keeping yourself better. Continuing my religious analogy, Jesus was only on the cross three hours, right? At some point, he was finished with it. When are we going to be finished with our cross of lard?

2. Being fat is a great way to protect ourselves from other people hurting us again.

Again, I don't have to go into details here because you'll recognize the truth of this if it applies. It's so much easier to avoid pain if you can convince the pain to avoid you. A great way to make sure somebody who could hurt you stays away is to make sure these people are repulsed by you.

Fat becomes a powerful defensive weapon in this constant struggle. There are others -- avoiding society, anti-social behavior and demeanor in unavoidable society -- but fat ranks right on up there. It's the choice of people who don't really want to avoid society at all (the stereotype of the jovial fat person is based on a kernel of truth, a really large kernel).

However, this is one you probably need some outside help with. When the fat goes away, the shield goes with it, and if you don't fix the root problem, a relapse is one bad scene away.

Hey, tired of all the psychobabble? Here's one we can all agree on.

3. Being fat is just so dang easy to do.

Shoving a pizza down your gullet is the easiest thing in the world to do. Pizzas taste GOOD. They are designed to taste good. We used to have to chase our food around in Africa for days, and now we can put Papa John's on speed-dial. "Yes, I would like my usual with extra cheese sauce." Ding-dong! You're a fat ass.

When you get past the genetic inclination to obesity, you still end up with a lot of lazy fat asses. Fat, after all, is stored energy. To lose it, you've got to burn it. And there's only two ways to start burning all that stored energy -- eat less food and get your body into motion.

I'm finding that my body is losing some muscle along with the fat. The overall trend is a loss in body fat percentage, but it is slow. Part of that isn't so surprising -- I don't need as much muscle because I'm not lugging around all that much fat anymore! Fat people have to be strong because just walking to the mailbox is resistance training!

I love that picture of happyhoward holding onto the two 50 lb bags of dog food. He used to have 100 excess pounds of fat on his body 24/7/365! Folks, you are carrying your gym with you right now. I'm not going to discourage anybody from buying a gym membership or a Wii Fit or a BodyBugg, but you have everything you need to lose weight right now. Find time two or three times a day to walk your home gym around the block. Haul your home gym up the steps instead of parking it in the elevator.

Losing the weight means we lose these benefits of being fat and we have to be ready to give them up. If not, right back up the scale you will go, because it's an established comfort zone. We can help each other be entirely ready to give up these benefits, but in the end it's up to those three people in the mirror: me, myself, and I.

No more self-flagellation! No more hiding! No more stalling! Let's do this.

Just so you know, I started the program November 14, 2009 at 230 (after a nice Goodbye to Food tour). Now I'm down to 190.6 pounds as of this morning.