August 2, 2006 at 1:05 pm
Today I read about a survey that found 75 percent of obese people say they eat healthy. They don’t mention how many of these people are big, obese liars.
Of course, they might not all be liars. If I had been included in this survey I would be an obese person who really does eat healthy and exercises regularly. They would have just caught me in transit from obesity to “normalness.” By the way, can we really continue to call being thin “normal” when approximately 2/3 of the country is overweight? Isn’t overweight the new normal? Also, people could be eating “healthy” foods, just way too many of them, thus causing them to maintain their obesity or gain weight. 1000 calories of carrots and 1000 calories of carrot cake are both still 1000 calories.
I think it just shows that denial and ignorance can be big factors in gaining weight. There was one study that observed how much people really ate and exercised and compared it to how much they said they did. Not too surprisingly they found the subjects “under-reported their actual energy intake by 47% and over-reported their actual physical activity by 51%.” Ouch! Let this be a lesson to never try lying to a scientist who’s weighing all your food.
While there are some diseases that can screw with your ability to lose weight, like thyroid disorders or polycystic ovary syndrome, it seems people would rather blame their obesity on a strange disease than on the fact that they just eat more than they burn. I know there were days when I was wishing I had some strange metabolic disorder to explain away my fatness. It’s so much better if you can just blame your genes and not something you’re doing.
I think this desire stems from the fact that society still pretty much blames fat people for being fat. We’re supposedly lazy, weak-willed, gross people who deserve to be fat because we sit on the couch eating Cheetos all day, our only exercise being when we pick that mushy Cheetos gunk out of our back molars. Personally, I’ve always thought will power was overrated. (Mind games are much more effective.) And even though the choices we make each day do lead us to become whatever we are, I haven’t ever met anyone who’s consciously said “I choose to be fat!”
However, common wisdom still states that fat people are fat solely because of personal character flaws, not silly little things like the current price of apples or only knowing how to use the oven as a storage shelf or that job where you sit all day secretly reading blogs (Is that your boss is coming around the corner? Alt + tab, quick!). It’s the same thinking that says addicts are just weak people and the clinically depressed simply need to cheer up already. So I can understand why people might want to believe something is wrong with their bodies or that they are eating healthy when they’re actually not. They don’t want to be seen as someone with a character flaw, as the world might have us believe. Thus, we lie to ourselves and to people in call centers doing market research for minimum wage.
Either that, or people just suck at math. The basic principle of Weight Loss 101 is always going to be “burn more calories than you consume.” I have a general sense of how many calories I’ve consumed in a day, but I don’t track it in detail because I think it’s too much of a pain to figure out how many calories are in every single thing I’ve consumed. I know there are lots of great resources online to help log all your calories, but I’m just not into it.
Which is why I think it would be handy if someone would develop an implant that would automatically monitor how many calories you’ve consumed in a day and how many calories you’ve burned. It could send the information to a digital watch, like some heart rate monitors do. If someone hasn’t already invented this, I’m sure they will one day. I should go patent it right now so I can sue them when they do! It can make up for all the domain name squatting I never got to do.