Have you asked yourself lately: Why am I fat? Here are the Top 10 Reasons You’re Fat!
There has never been a time in history when excessive weight and obesity—along with the litany of health risks and fatalities associated with these conditions—has been as prevalent in the United States as it is today.
The rate of obesity among Americans has reached staggering proportions. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than one-third of Americans suffer from obesity, which poses health risks such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Consequences of obesity and excessive weight are not only felt by the people livnig with these conditions. Economical repercussions have effected the entire population.
In 2008, the CDC reported that medical costs resulting from complications associated with obesity in the United States ended up costing an estimated $148 billion, and the medical costs for people who were obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
Paradoxically, as costs skyrocket due to weight, diet programs geared toward healthy and “clean” eating are also prevalent, and smartphones allow instant access to fitness trackers, calorie counters and a smorgasbord of tips on how to achieve goals and get the oft sought after “beach body”.
With the media’s constant scrutiny over weight and a confection of diet trends pervading our culture, why does this condition continue to be an issue and a seemingly impossible feat for so many Americans?
The fact is, weight loss isn’t as simple as following the advice of a reality star (to be honest, most of them aren’t the best to seek any kind of advice from) or downloading an app. If that were so, every single person would have washboard abs.
The causes of excessive weight and obesity are much more complex than simply eating too much or being “lazy”. Several factors ranging from mental health issues, to the changes in food processing and more have played a part. Additionally, research has shown that attitudes toward weight gain and the risks associated have altered over the past several decades, with many Americans resigning to the fact that they are overweight and operating under false pretenses that this predicament cannot be changed.
Below are ten reasons you could be continuing to struggle with weight, and the ways you can reverse this in order to obtain a healthier, happier quality of life.
10. You Think You’re a Hopeless Case
Helen Keller once said, “Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.” Falling into the trap of self-pity and feeling that you are a “hopeless case” is as easy to do as it is destructive.
Moreover, an inner monologue that delivers unremitting bullet points on why you will never achieve success in overcoming your weight issues is actually the perfect way to eliminate any chances of progress.
Feeling you are a hopeless case and living by a mantra that supports this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The term “self-fulfilling prophecy” first entered the vernacular of social sciences when it was created in 1948 by Robert Merton and was defined as, “A false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true.”
Just as this psychology can lead to detrimental effects such as an inability to lose weight, give up smoking, stop drinking and the like, it can also be used to an individual’s advantage.
Most of the most successful and inspirational figures from the past and present used their own personal drive and a sense of “can” rather than “cannot” to accomplish their goals and fulfill their dreams.
The takeaway here?
Stop being your own worst enemy. Furthermore, work toward remodeling your attitude in a way that you can become your biggest fan and greatest cheerleader.You may be surprised at how a change in perspective can suddenly cause you to lose pounds, and regain some self-esteem.
9. You Think it is Your Genes That Are Preventing You From Losing Weight
There is no denying that genetics play a part in our body types, overall health and how easily we are able to gain and lose weight. However, the role of genetics in weight loss is actually quite minimal.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), obesity is most often caused by a variety of factors, with behaviors and environment taking more responsibility over genes. Moreover, the obesity epidemic did not begin until the late 1990s, and—although exact reasons for this epidemic are not completely clear—it appears that the advent of several factors such as: media (i.e., children being placed more frequently in front of TVs or video game systems instead of being encouraged to participate in outdoor play and activities); an increase in processed foods and fast food chains, and an increase in individuals struggling to live in the category of “low socio-economic status for many populations has much to do with it.
Decades ago obesity was seen as a rarity. Today it is considered commonplace for Americans to have a BMI that is drastically above what would be considered healthy.
Did the genes of an entire population magically change and create a biological upward climb for those trying to lose weight? It seems unlikely.
8. You Pretend to Have a Medical Condition
That, or you are misdiagnosing yourself with a condition due to symptoms that are actually the result of lifestyle behaviors and your environment.
An article from Oct. 2013 written by Max Pemberton and published in the UK magazine, The Spectator, referenced various studies and surveys which evidenced that—although genes and certain medical conditions may predispose certain people to weight gain and obesity—gaining weight is largely due to lifestyle factors and an attitude of blame and resignation that has pervaded American society since the obesity epidemic began.
Moreover, exercise and healthy behaviors can actually serve to combat weight gain and any complications that may arise due to obesity and excessive weight. One notable medical condition that is almost exclusively caused by an unhealthy lifestyle is type 2 diabetes.
A 2011 study from Diabetologia vetted adults with type 2 diabetes to see if a change in diet could alleviate symptoms of the disease.
As hypothesized, it was found that lifestyle changes such as a modified diet and physical activity did in fact alleviate symptoms to the point that certain ailments caused by type 2 diabetes were actually reversed.
The study was made up of 11 participants (nine males and two females) who were placed on a restrictive calorie diet. For accuracy, a group of eight non-diabetic adults of paralleled age, weight and gender were also studied.
Researched stated in their findings that, “Normalization of both beta cell function and hepatic insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes was achieved by dietary energy restriction alone,” which proved that the disease could be reversed due to changes in behavior as opposed to any other type of medical intervention.
7. You Have a Medical Condition
A comprehensive 2010 study by the American Journal of Nutrition took on the formidable task of attempting to calculate what percentage of the obese population was actually caused by genetics. Their findings? A scarce 1% of obese individuals were suffering from weight gain leading to obesity due to a genetic predisposition.
The study concluded that things like lifestyle behavior and environment played a much greater role.
That being said, genetic predispositions do in fact exist and medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome can cause overweight and obesity.
In these circumstances, treatment from a medical professional will be necessary and a plan can be put in place to decrease effects and combat the effects of weight gain resulting from the condition.
Still, even the aforementioned medical conditions can be benefited by behaviors that exemplify healthy eating and exercise. As with type 2 diabetes, many symptoms can be alleviated and squandered completely when behaviors that follow the route of optimal health are practiced.
6. You Are Depriving Yourself and Yo-Yo Dieting
You may need a little more fat in your diet to keep you from continuing to gain weight.
Yes, you read that right.
Over several decades, America’s views on health and diet have changed drastically. Vegetarianism is no longer a rarity and it seems that every other week a member of Hollywood’s elite (or at least reality television) is touting a new diet or “cleanse” to eliminate belly fat ASAP. Strolling down grocery aisles, we see consumers with furrowed brows as they pore over the caloric amount listed on nutrition labels. For many, acquiring a gym membership is as crucial as having a credit card, and the word “dessert” is synonymous with dropping an “F” bomb.
Although it is never a bad thing to be conscientious of your health, the consistent cutting of calories, fervent attention to fads, and fear of fat is actually harmful to overall health and can actually increase mortality.
By depriving one’s daily diet of certain foods and beverages that have been deemed “unhealthy,” we could also be robbing ourselves of some powerful nutrients that actually serve (pun intended) to decrease the risks of several diseases and even increase lifespan.
Individuals who have a tendency to jump on the “fad diet” bandwagon which can include anything from no-carb diets to severely restrictive liquid “cleanses” not only have a tendency to put back on any weight lost–they actually end up gaining more.
According to an article from SFGATE, the ever-present trend of “fad dieting” has done nothing to help in dismantling the obesity epidemic. In fact, it has only worsened the problem.
This is due to the fact that fad dieting inevitably leads to a surplus of weight gain once the diet regimen has been completed.
How does this happen?
The body goes into a process called “starvation mode” after experiencing such as sudden decline in caloric intake. Thus, the body will no longer be able metabolize calories in an attempt to preserve energy due to this sudden “fasting” behavior. Your body does not know the difference between a fast that was spurred by advice from a Kardashian, and one that was caused by you suddenly becoming abandoned in the mountains somewhere—it only knows to protect you.
Thus, once a person resumes their normal eating habits, not only is weight regained quickly, but additional pounds are packed on.
Furthermore, enjoying foods that contain high fat content in moderation leads to greater satiety and less inclination to binge eat later.
In layman’s terms the old adage “you want what you can’t have” doesn’t simply apply to dating—deeming certain foods as “bad” or “off limits” is going to nothing but make you want them more. Enjoy these foods in portion-controlled ways that are part of a balanced diet, and weight will be much easier to maintain in the long-term as opposed to the short-term.
5. You Have Underlying Issues You Haven’t Addressed
As is the case with alcohol, drugs and other forms of self-harm, weight gain and obesity are often symptoms of a bigger problem.
Food is often used by those suffering depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a myriad of other painful issues as a form of self-medication. Eating can be comforting to a point that it temporarily numbs the pain that is subsequent to greater issues, and the escape associated with overeating can often develop into an addiction.
An article from The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt in Baltimore, Maryland outlines various ways in which mental health issues and trauma can contribute to disordered eating behavior which can lead to weight gain and obesity.
“Victims of trauma often struggle with shame, guilt, body dissatisfaction and a feeling of a lack of control,” CED notes, going on to cite that, “As many as 50% of those with eating disorders may also be struggling with trauma disorders.”
A deficit in coping skills for trauma and/or a litany of other issues either due to biological predispositions or various negative experiences can also result in individuals utilizing food as a means for comfort and numbing of feelings.
If this sounds familiar and you are in need of support, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) provides various resources and education on eating disorders such as Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and other non-specified eating disorders which can lead to overweight and obesity.
NEDA provides individuals with a confidential helpline number for those that need assistance in navigating treatment and understanding their options.
4. You Lack Discipline
Discipline doesn’t simply refer to that thing your middle school teacher used to enforce when he or she caught you scrawling doodles across your notebook paper instead of performing Algebra equations.
Discipline is an integral part of accomplishing any goal, and a majority of people who are unable to lose weight and/or keep it off lack this.
No one ever said that losing weight would be easy.
While some self-proclaimed “gym rats” or “adrenaline junkies” revel in a diet that is made up of 100% organic everything, get nauseous at the sight of a big mac and refer to jogging as a “fun run” (seriously?!), the great majority of people do not pack their gym bag with elation, and also do not prefer a yoga class over a night of beer and chicken wings.
No matter how many times one may daydream of wearing a bathing suit without chagrin or being able to run around with their children the same way they had 40 pounds ago, a lack of discipline will quickly squander any attempts of bringing these fantasies to fruition.
Blogger “Sarah” wrote of her weight-loss journey on the popular women’s website, Divine Caroline. She spoke of how she discovered that it was discipline—not willpower—that helped her lose weight. Rather than attempt to avoid the ever-alluring bag of Cheetos lingering in her cupboard, or trying to simply “wing it” when going out to eat at restaurants or selecting foods for the day, Sarah spent a lot of time planning and organizing to achieve her goals.
She ridded her kitchen of temptations, budgeted for evenings out at a restaurant to avoid going overboard, and measured out snacks and meals to appropriate portion sizes.
Visiting a physician and becoming educated on appropriate portions, food choices and activities can help people in becoming disciplined and finally shedding the weight that has debilitated their health and happiness.
3. You Don’t Understand the Principle of Consistent, Concerted Effort
Many people fallaciously believe that weight loss will involve a complete rehabilitation of their diet and going from a completely sedentary lifestyle to running 24 miles a day.
These beliefs are what set so many people up for failure and disappointment. The truth is, that success does not come in the form of drastic, life-altering changes, but a collection of small, consistent behaviors that will add up over time. Someone that has never ran a mile in their life shouldn’t be expected to launch into training for a half marathon.
However, why not try walking a mile? Or taking the stairs instead of the elevator? Instead of trying to give up soda cold turkey, why not see if you can first cut your amount in half, or even by a third?
According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, “…Making small, easy changes to…eating habits on a consistent basis—more than 25 days a month—can lead to sustainable weight loss.”
Cornell Professor Brian Wansink spearheaded the study, which involved 504 participants who followed on online program which focused on “…simple eating behavior changes, instead of dieting.” Each participant was instructed to submit a follow-up survey each month and results showed that of the 504 participants, 42% lost weight while 27% maintained their weights, with changes being most notable in those that most appropriately adhered to the program.
2. You Don’t Exercise
Exercise is only one component of weight loss, but it is an essential one. Exercise not only burns calories to help eliminate excess weight, it also provides a release of chemical receptors in the brain known as “endorphins”. Endorphins are “feel good” chemicals which help to alleviate stress and provide a general sense of well-being. This decrease in stress and increase in overall mood can also combat issues like depression and anxiety, which can both be triggers of things like “stress eating” and exacerbate the aforementioned inner monologue that tells many overweight individuals that they are a “hopeless case” and should give up.
According to the CDC, regular exercise not only helps individuals lose weight and maintain healthy weight, it decreases the risks of developing myriad of diseases, such as: hypertension; type 2 diabetes; cardiovascular disease; stroke, and several different forms of cancer to name a few.
Conversely, a lack of exercise can catalyze these risks and can also influence weight gain by decreasing the amount of calories burned through activity.
1. You Eat Too Much
It may seem obvious, but overeating and failure to track calories are the perfect recipe (no pun intended) for weight gain and obesity. Moreover, many people in America are completely oblivious to the amount of calories they consume due obscenely large portions being served at restaurants as well as the increase in food processing.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH), a key factor in the increase of obesity amongst adults and children is the fact that American portion sizes have actually tripled over the last 20 years.
Appropriate portions sizes and “portion distortion” are discussed and strategies to achieving a healthy balance and not over-consuming calories are outlined by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Choose My Plate initiative.
For quick reference, when consuming entree items such as meats, pasta and other products, keep in mind that a “portion” usually measures to about the size of a closed fist or a deck of cards. Be extra conscious of this when going out to eat, where muffins are similar in size to bean bag chairs and steaks battle for vacancy across a plate with diameters parallel to that of a garbage lid.