I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.
My name is Amanda and I have obesity.
If you look at this photo of me today, you might not believe me…
But, this picture on the left was me a year ago…
This was a point in my life when I was clinically obese and dealing with weight-related health issues.
And, the way I think of obesity, as a chronic illness, characterized by excessive fat accumulation that may harm a person’s health, I continue to have obesity even as my visual appearance changes.
I guess I’d consider myself in recovery from obesity. Because it’s a constant struggle, to keep my weight from going up again. Sometimes I relapse—I’ve lost and gained weight more times than I can remember—and it is only thanks to daily effort and support that I am able to keep my weight in a place I am comfortable with.
Obesity is just part of my life.
And, while I can’t say that I want that to be the case, I’ve learned that acceptance has allowed me to take action.
I hate to actually type this out, but here’s what’s true: I don’t love my body.
My belly is too flabby, my stretch marks are too abundant, and everything is just so hangy. I hate that I have back fat, and chin fat, and thigh fat, and that little flap of fat that hangs over my elbow, not a lot, but enough to make me pinch it in disgust from time to time.
I don’t like how wide my face is or how unperky my boobs are. And my hands. I have old lady hands that look 65 no matter how much moisturizer I use on them.
And every day I’m ashamed of myself for not loving me more. For not looking past all of those imperfections and embracing that they are just a small part of the awesome that is me. Especially the elements of my body that I have motherhood to thank for.
I know that it’s not cool to hate your mom bod in 2019, that we are supposed to embrace the stretched, torn, imperfect vestibules that gave life to the little humans we love. And, while I respect my body for what it has done and appreciate all that it has gifted me with, I still can’t look down at it and say with a heart filled with truth, that I love it, that I think it’s beautiful, or that I want to display it next summer in a string bikini at the neighborhood pool.
I know that’s my weakness, and I’m not proud of it.
I will probably never be the mom who says her stretch marks are beautiful because they are markings of a life well made. I will probably never post a belly out photo of myself on my Instagram channel as encouragement to other women. And, I will probably never look down at my body and think that it is exactly what I want it to be.
But, what I can do is continue to work on me and help people understand this disease in a way that is meant to bring care, understanding, and improved health to those who are battling it.
That’s why partnering with Med-IQ to change the way obesity and body health are talked about was an important decision for me to make.
As an accredited medical education company dedicated to providing an exceptional educational experience for all healthcare professionals, Med-IQ wants to help generate awareness around obesity and its status as a chronic disease to provide greater understanding, generate support, and lead to better treatment options for those who have it.
As someone who has felt ashamed of myself because of my obesity, I am so here for that.
Because I believe that every person who lives with an illness deserves compassion, respect, and understanding, and I believe this will come with education.
So, let me help educate you.
Here are some important things to know about obesity, how it is treated, and the impact it has on the lives of those who have it.
Get the Facts: Obesity is NOT a Choice & Other Things You Should Know to Change the Conversation
Obesity is a chronic disease.
There is no one way to treat obesity that works for every patient.
A path to successful weight management for someone with obesity is as unique as their path to having obesity. That means there are various treatment options and no one option is going to work for every single person in exactly the same way. There are several options available for treatment including but not limited to, surgery; physician supervised programs; drug, diet, and lifestyle interventions; educational programs; and school and community based programs.
Obesity is not a condition of personal choice.
Just like people don’t choose to have kidney disease or lupus, people don’t choose to have obesity. People develop obesity because of existing genetic risk factors in their DNA that respond to environmental, cultural or behavioral factors, like stress, lack of sleep, certain medications, and eating energy-dense/nutrient-poor foods. Of course lifestyle plays a role in developing obesity, but there are other underlying factors that lead to a higher prevalence of obesity, such as ethnicity or sex.
Older women are more likely to have obesity than older men. Almost half of non-Hispanic blacks have obesity. Those between the ages of 40 and 59 are more likely to have obesity. These demographics are meaningful when it comes to diagnosis and treatment.
How we speak about obesity matters.
What we say about obesity contributes to how obesity is viewed by the public, which leads to discrimination and other hurtful behaviors.
Unlike other medical diseases, obesity is talked about in a way that allows people to be defined by it. So, instead of saying Sally has obesity, people often say Sally IS obese. Like it’s a part of who Sally is as a person. Like obesity isn’t an illness. Like obesity IS who Sally IS.
Just like we’d never say Sally is cancerous to indicate she has cancer, we should never say Sally is obese to indicate she has obesity.
Doing so dehumanizes those with obesity and it also leads to mistreatment and even discrimination.
Whether or not you are someone who has been affected by obesity, the need for reformed medical practice and discourse around the disease is apparent. You can learn more about the disease and how medical professionals and others are working to make treatment more compassionate and comprehensive for patients:
There is something you can do right now to impact change.
One way you can help right now is to take a moment to contribute to the discussion and extend your own education on this topic by watching this Facebook Live with Dr. Ryan. You can also help by accessing this brief education and completing this important survey: TAKE THE SURVEY!
It will take you less than 15 minutes and you will be entered to win 1 of 10 $50 VISA gift cards. Survey responses are anonymous and will be shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with obesity and your care team, which will help us develop future educational initiatives for healthcare providers to improve care.
Once you’ve completed the survey, you will be asked to provide your email address if you’d like to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $50 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will not be sold, kept, or stored; email addresses are used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize.
If you’d like to learn more about obesity and how we can work together to change the conversation around and provide supportive, healthy, compassionate treatment options to all patients, here are some website where you can gain more information: