Obesity Crisis, Work & Weight Loss

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I have been hesitant to write about work, obesity & weight loss because there’s nothing that I can add to the discussion that hasn’t already been said by 1,000 more educated & articulate bloggers out there.

Very simply, I believe that the “obesity crisis” in America is an extension of a two-pronged marketing strategy meant to f–k Americans and line the pockets of global corporations.

More and more, I see Americans who are backed into a corner. We earn less money than ever before because our wages aren’t keeping up with inflation; we carry a high amount of debt due to the health care crisis; and we are governed by leaders who concede our agricultural & food policies to global corporations. Americans are told that high fructose corn syrup and a diet of highly addictive, chemically processed foods are good for you in moderation; however, it’s your fault if your body becomes addicted to the aforementioned chemicals and additives in food. You should either spend money on fad diets, spend money and ingest unregulated & highly profitable weight loss supplements, or go to the gym.

I will admit that I am cynical and a bit conspiratorial, but I think that simple corporate greed is behind the alleged “obesity crisis” in America. (Yes, I’m using quotes around obesity crisis. I’m not sure if it’s a crisis as much as we’re being told that it’s a crisis.)

That being said, I’ve lost forty pounds since January. I’m really proud of this weight loss because it comes on the heels of difficult, personal work. Unfortunately, I’m hesitant to talk about my weight loss, though, because it’s personal and private. It involves therapy, honesty, and a tremendous change to my diet and lifestyle.

I will tell you that the biggest part of my weight loss success has come from opting out of the food/depression cycle. Some of you may not believe this, but I was physically addicted to fast food, and I went through a chemical withdrawal of McDonalds and Burger King. I spent the first month of my weight loss wondering if someone was trying to kill me. I needed fat. I needed salt. I needed sugar & caffeine.

The withdrawal symptoms are long gone, but I have to work hard every day not to binge on french fries and soda pop. What drove me to eat was an inability to deal with stress at work. I will admit that it was my fault (& my responsibility to develop better coping skills). What kept me eating was a chemical dependency on refined flour and sugar. Kicking the McDonalds habit was like kicking the nicotine habit. I had to go cold turkey, and I can’t go back to those good old days in the drive-thru.

I’m glad that my addiction to fast food is being managed (as much as any addiction can be managed), but I don’t want you to get the impression that my weight loss and my journey is a model for how you should live your life. Personally, I feel better that I’m not allowing my psyche to be controlled by my job, and I’m no longer beholden to the golden arches to moderate my mood. Your life story and weight gain/weight loss will be different.

Unfortunately, the BMI chart used to judge each & every American in the same way tells me that — despite my improved eating habits and exercise routine — I’m overweight. That’s right. I’m five feet tall, 130 lbs, and I’m still overweight.

That goddamn BMI chart needs to be burned.

Kate Harding wrote a great post on the bullshit BMI chart and how those categories aren’t very accurate. She was nice enough to include my picture in the post. Take a look. It’s amazing to see where real women fall on the BMI spectrum. These are women like you & me, and it’s a strong reminder that a book cannot be judged by its cover.

Personally, I love the very large women who are triathletes. Most of us can’t run around the block, but these large women are kicking ass and taking names. Kate’s post is a huge success in terms of showing women at all sizes and where they fall on the BMI scale. Some women look too skinny & it turns out that they are “normal.” Others look gorgeous and they are considered “obese.” How many times have you looked at a man or woman at work and made some serious assumptions about his/her competencies and abilities? It’s a fact that obese employees face employment discrimination at tremendously high rates. Are you guilty of making certain assumptions? Do you think that maybe it’s time to step back, apply your critical thinking skills, and assess the obesity crisis in America a little differently?

I was so excited to read Kate’s post, but then she alerted me to this bullshit blog & its comments. My picture on Kate’s blog was identified as an anomaly — in the readers’ opinions, I’m the only one who didn’t meet the BMI category of overweight. I was described as bangin‘ and hot.

Yeah, I know, it’s so flattering to read comments about my body and how it relates to the BMI scale. I also love how strange people feel inclined to comment upon my appearance and suggest that I dress well for my weight. Another reader suggests that the picture is somehow strategically chosen to represent my body at its best.

The only thing strategic about the picture is the fact that my hair looks somewhat decent. The rest is me – 100%, unedited Laurie Ruettimann. I do look fabulous, of course, but I looked fabulous when I weighed 170 lbs. I didn’t lose weight to lose weight. I lost weight to reclaim my right to own my moods and my depression. I’ve also given up a personal dependence on corporate America.

I now realize that I don’t need Donny Deutsch to tell me how to make myself feel better.

Very simply, I wonder when Americans will stop blaming one another for the alleged “obesity crisis” and start looking at corporations who:

  • can’t go a week without recalling food for e.coli or other dangerous bacteria.
  • haven’t met a cow they didn’t want to shoot full of hormones and antibiotics.
  • somehow decided for Americans that high fructose corn syrup is an essential part of the American diet.

Listen, people. I believe in free will much the same way that I believe in the free marketplace. It exists, of course, in concept. Free will, just like the free marketplace, struggles to survive against the pressures of a corrupt and fascist system that is rigged by powerful and subtle corporate forces.

With a little perspective [as your awesome HR manager and all-around common sense consultant], I have developed a clear position on the “obesity crisis” in America:

I’ll take more accountability for my weight — and I’ll happily point out your flaws & your big fat ass — when corporate America stops working its employees 50 hours/week, pays its workers a living wage, allows for better work/life balance, stops encouraging people to eat KFC instead of real food, and creates better & more affordable access to fresh & safe groceries.

Like that’s gonna happen, right?

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