Did He Really Just Call Me Fat ?
Are we ever really satisfied with ourselves, our bodies? I have often considered writing this piece but have never been able to get myself to do it, as it is a sensitive subject for me. Growing up I was always the skinny kid, unhappy with how thin I was. Those bodybuilding ads in the 70s did resonate with me even then as they challenged you to stop being the 90lb. weakling getting sand kicked in your face (I doubt I was even 90lbs. at the time). My Dad was interestingly enough rather conscious of his fi
tness, which was odd given that we were immigrants with Dad being of East Indian origin, where working out was not consistent with the cultural point of reference. I remember well the day we got that mail order package with all of the cool springs and pulleys and gadgets that made up the Joe Weider workout kit. In the workout kit was an instructional booklet as well as images of a young Arnold Schwartzneger. I remember going upstairs in our garage which was an old barn and doing those chest expansion exercises with the three springed contraption or using the grip strength squeezers that I could barely reach with my fingers or a variety of other contraption based exercises.
The point is that early on in life I became aware of my need to change or at least that was the message that I was getting from somewhere whether it was television or magazines. I was more Gilligan than Arnold at the time and really wanted to be something other than what I was. Through my high school and most of my university years I tried desperately to gain weight, working out and eating whatever I wanted. Needless to say I had very little understanding of what good nutrition was at that time, as it did not seem to matter. As I got older, what I used to consider a problem (being too thin) disappeared to be replaced by another problem. Genetics and an eat anything diet eventually caught up with me and I was now working out to lose weight and get strong.
Over the years, this battle has been mine and I have educated myself on training methods and nutrition and supplementation and at times, I have been right on top of things. It is funny but when my wife was pregnant with our first son, I gained far more weight than her, as we ate out constantly eating at those awesome Scarborough Indian restaurants and while I ate and gained weight, Reema ate and threw up, due to her pregnancy. Eventually I would get sick of myself and train hard and lose the weight getting back to some degree of health. Once I ended up losing about 60lbs in about two and a half months training like a mad man and eating like a rabbit.
As I aged, I found that my metabolism and as a result my body no longer responded to my efforts the same way it once did and indeed my thyroid was now a little underactive. Having gained and lost weight so many times I just didn’t have the energy to do it again as I knew exactly how hard it was to do. I have never stopped working out in the last 25 plus years and was in decent shape from a strength perspective I could bench 1.3 times my body weight at age 50 and squat 1.7 times my body weight. The problem was my body weight had again skyrocketed and I found myself the heaviest I had ever been and now in need of a cholesterol pill. Now here is the real reason I am writing this. For those of us that struggle with weight and body image, we tend to be hyper aware of our shape and size etc. so when those around us feel compelled to openly recognize the fact that we may have gained weight they are not telling us something we don’t know. I have been blown away by the brazen willingness of people to tell me things like…. And I quote, “time to push away from the table”, “you better stop eating now”, “boy you have packed on the pounds”. It goes on and on.
What really boggles me is that this happens in my own clinic quite often by people that I have been taking care of for many years with as much kindness as I can. I have had more patients make these assertions over the years than I care to remember. As I hear these people so willingly be hurtful to me, I wonder if others go through the same thing. Interestingly the people that point this out to me are not consistently in great shape themselves. I must say however that the majority of my patients are kind enough to keep those obvious observations to themselves. In reality I have had people that are in far worse shape than me point out to me that I have put on more than a few pounds. In the recent past, I have managed to find it within myself to get past the hurtfulness of others and get back into shape. I have been able to improve on my strength to weight ratio and am very close to my ideal weight again but interestingly enough, I now have an even harder time with those that point out that I seem to have lost a lot of weight as it seems to be a reminder that others seem to care about how I look which I know is not really fair as that is my own hang-up. It would be nice if we lived in a world where we were a little more sensitive to the feelings of those around us as we each have our own battles in life to deal with and would find kindness far more empowering than thoughtless comments.