Friday, August 31, 2012

What's in a Word

As I come to grips (again and again) with all that I'm trying to accomplish, I strive to be as honest with myself as I can.  I attempt to set reasonable goals and deadlines.  My progress I try to view as I would someone else's; in that way, I am kinder.

Lately I've been using the word obese.  It's a word that I've fought with for a long time.  When my BMI began to exceed the overweight range, I argued that I had big bones.  Not that I even know what that means.  Then a little while later I just stopped talking about it at all.  I had to protect myself from people who would use that word against me.  Hearing it aloud triggered an immediate fight response in me.

In time, I began to look at BMI the same way.  It was a tool others used to point out all the things that were wrong with me.  I clung to how incomplete the measurement was.  Talking about my BMI, doctors would find that I immediately tuned them out.  Earlier this year, I started making piece with BMI.  Mine was 38.8 at the time.  That shocked to me.  At the start of the year it was 41.2.  These numbers are so far outside the range of normal.  I could no longer look at that number and believe that BMI was a useless measurement.

Today, four months later, eight months from the start, my BMI is 36.8.  I've made progress, significant progress.  I like looking at the original number compared to now because the leading 4 makes the leading 3 seem all that more impressive.  I'm struggling to look at that number as a measurement and not a character flaw.  But there is a truth I'm starting to accept...

I am obese.

As such I've been attempting to allow the word back into my vocabulary.  It is a medical condition.  Looking at the definition, I can understand why I've fought that word.  At least according to Wikipedia, a person cannot be obese and healthy.  They have to be obese and otherwise healthy.  Obesity means that the person is carrying excess body weight which will lead to other diseases.  I guess this is where the problem lies.  It's a medical condition with a loaded future, more loaded than might be warranted.

A few days ago, I was discussing my struggles of late in person with someone who loves me.  I used the word obese several times while describing the overwhelming feeling I've been experiencing.  Each time I said the word, it made my listener cringe.  As I stopped talking, she said, "I don't use that word.  It's an ugly word." I went onto explain my feelings about the word; it certainly isn't pretty.  And I'm definitely conflicted about it.

It's Voldemort.

It's the Condition-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named.  We don't know what it means.  We don't know how to fight it.  We are scared of what it is doing to our health and our children's health.  We see it shaping the world around us.  We don't feel like we can stop it.  Or even help.  So we stop talking about it.

I'm not going to rid the world of obesity on this journey.  But I can accept its effects in my life and myself.  I am obese.  I say that not to embrace and celebrate it, but to say that I know where I'm at and what I have to do.  I'm accepting these changes as forever changes.  I am serious.  I will change this for myself.  And one day I'll link back to this post and add some new characteristic to my self description.  I look forward to that day.


  1. It IS Voldemort! You try and try to kill it, and it just keeps coming back, trying to kill you. Until...that one day, it meets its match. You go, Harry. :-)

    1. Thanks! I debate what the match for obesity is; determination maybe. However, I do look forward to answering that question in the years to come. I will do this!