Obesity is the new smoking

Everyone has an opinion, but how many have actually walked in the shoes of a person experiencing weight loss struggles?

It’s everywhere; sugar tax on soft drinks, adverts promoting how obesity is the second biggest cause of cancer, fat shaming. But being fat is a self-inflicted disease, right? That being the case every single person with a weight issue deserves disdain and harsh treatment. Or is that really true?

Sure, sometimes it’s all about the junk food, the static lifestyle. Some people only exercise their thumbs or meet the theoretical 10,000 steps once in a blue moon. However, there are some people who aren’t like this. I know that while, in my teens, I had a tendency to eat junk; chocolate was my best friend when I was going through a particularly difficult time emotionally, I no longer sit on my arse all day doing nothing, or stuff my face full of fatty, over-sweet foods all evening (for starters, if I haven’t eaten by 6.30 then forget it on a weeknight).

Just this week there was an article on the BBC website “Can you pay people to be healthier?” which posits that a health insurance company has found incentives to make people exercise (rewards in the form of vouchers, discounts and free coffees etc) have been successful. Are they suggesting that a) the NHS do this and b) people who already struggle with affording the day to day cost of living are going to fork out for health insurance and expensive gym memberships in order to get them?

I don’t know about you, but my local gym –  the only relatively affordable one with a pool, has a dreadful pool. Now, I am not saying it’s not great if you want to go there for a play session with the kids, or an aquafit class, I am saying it’s rubbish if you want to go there to swim. Years ago, when I lost weight the first time (relatively) successfully on my own I would swim 2k a week. It was the time when I managed to escape the real world and concentrate on nothing but breathing in and out and making it from one end of the pool to the other without drowning. When the old swimming pool closed down (poor maintenance upkeep over the years had meant that things like air conditioning units were actually falling from the ceiling), the council commissioned a new one. This pool SUCKS if you are a swimmer, the swimming area is tiny (and by tiny I mean if there are more than 10 people in it then you can be waiting for 10 minutes between lengths). I HATE IT…and it’s certainly not worth the £50 per month membership fee.

There is another pool. However, to be a member is nearly £100 per month. If I had the money I would join, just to swim every day. I barely earn a living wage for the area in which I live. Half my income every month goes to my landlord, the rest on bills (including council tax). It’s lovely living alone, but bloody expensive at the same time.

So, while I can understand the need to encourage people to be healthy, all the time gym memberships are so costly it’s prohibitive. Is the article suggesting that the NHS pays for these memberships? What sort of incentives are they talking about offering that people who struggle with weight on a daily basis are going to want? Chocolate? Reduced mobile bills? Free TV packages? For the record, none of these would interest me.

What would interest me is a reduced membership rate to a decent gym, where I can access the exercise that helps me (namely swimming, it helps my mental health problems, in that they are at the back of my head for a while). But I fear that the only ‘reduced membership’ they would offer is to a gym that has already proved to be unfit for purpose; their pool is inadequate for anyone serious about swimming, the gym classes are oversubscribed and the support available is mostly non-existent.

I am not saying that I should be entitled to a membership at a decent gym…what I am saying is that if it is all about encouraging people to exercise then they need to make it more accessible for people on low budgets. Even though the local ‘cheap’ pool is crap it’s not exactly ‘cheap’ either. For a restricted so-called swimming session (so-called because you spend more time waiting to swim their version of a length – which is more like an Olympic pool width) it’s over £5…for that you get access to their slides and fountains and ridiculous number of toys, a pool overcrowded with screaming kids and people using the pool area as a social zone. The few times I went I came out feeling more stressed than I had felt when I went in. Yep, for someone with anxiety issues, it just upped the ante.

This week has been a hive of news if you’re looking to find out people’s true opinions about the overweight. In the same week as the BBC posted the article about ‘weight loss incentives’, it was announced that a brand new 800 calorie ‘super diet’ will be offered on a trial of 3 months to Diabetes Type 2 sufferers, apparently this is a miracle cure for the disease (I am struggling to see how a 3-month trial will reverse anything long-term).

The hate that appeared in the comments on the Daily Mail website was something I have come to expect, but at the same time, the ignorance was astounding. I know that the people who comment on the DM articles aren’t exactly the nicest, but still, to tar every single person with the ‘lazy’ ‘own fault’ ‘draining the NHS dry’ brush is frustrating. What’s sickening is the fact that as far as a lot of these people are concerned the obese – every single one of them lazy and suffering a self-inflicted disease – should either do it all themselves or ‘die’, apparently. Sometimes people horrify me more than they should.

I have not corrected the spelling on any of these, so take them a) with a pinch of salt and b) the knowledge that these people don’t use spellcheck!

Comments like:

Waste of NHS money on stupid ideas. If you’re so fat you’ve brought on an specific obese related illness, lose weight by yourself or die. Same as smoking and drinking related illnesses. There’s no accountability in this country anymore. People are brain dead idiots wanting and expecting everyone else to save them without any sacrificed themselves. The country can’t afford it.

Goes to show how much of a burden these ‘plus size ‘ people are on society. The NHS has more important things to spend its money on such as cancre care , not self inflicted , gluttony related illnesses.

It’s self inflicted.. Don’t offer them treatment..

Reading these is not hurtful any longer, I have grown immune to the hate, however, what I dislike is the lack of information, the lack of knowledge these commenters clearly have. One even commented that the ‘free bariatric surgery’ offered on the NHS to treat obese people makes them lazy. I wrote about this last week, in my post about needing help. The help is there, if you toe their line, if you follow every single tiny rule and regulation they have set forward and you fit into their little list of tickboxes precisely. If you don’t, forget about getting any help, it just doesn’t exist.

Yesterday I went to see my GP – who initially referred me for the bariatric surgery following years of waiting and struggling on every single diet known to man. I mentioned this therapy the food psychologist suggested I get and he actually said: “Are they going to create a brand new treatment for you that doesn’t exist on the NHS?” We both had a bit of a laugh at that one. He knows that their decision to boot me off the trial means that there is nowhere else for me to go, that I am going to be heading off into the unknown alone and I’m a little lost. I did say that if he has any ideas or can come up with anything – due to medications I already take I am not a strong candidate for this trial – then I am only too happy to hear them.

The journey is a long one and one, I am hoping, I will eventually figure out. But in the meantime, it’s a case of struggling on alone. Oh well, when I finally get some money together I will be joining the gym that has a pool you can actually swim in, and going back to classes that make me feel like the fat slob at the back…but last time it did work and had I not lost my job before it would have continued. I know that the journey will be harder this time. I have a new health condition and new medication (5lbs gain since I started taking it less than a month ago), I am older and despite weighing less than I did when I started my serious weight loss plan 5 years ago  I am not as healthy, I get breathless a little quicker and I don’t have the same drive as I did…but I can do it. I just need to find the get-up and go.

Battling depression, medication-connected weight gain and a lack of drive is tough, but I know that it can be done. People have done it before me, they will continue doing it after me. I just need to figure out how to get there.

Anyone have any suggestions? Anyone know how I can find the extra money needed to get that gym membership? If I sold a kidney would I also lose weight??? 😉

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