Harsh but good advice

Posted: May 15, 2014

AT A RECENT informal gathering of women, one outspoken lady loudly proclaimed:

"Look at you, you are digging your graves with your forks! The way you eat is killing you, and setting you up for debilitating and destructive diseases that erode the quality of your lives, even cutting your lives short."

For a moment, everyone froze. She really hit a nerve! You could have heard a pin drop, but aside from a few inaudible grumbles, everyone just carried on.

Later on, I thought about her comments. Was she deliberately trying to offend or was she trying to inform? Was she giving everyone a swift kick in the pants?

In any event, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and decided she probably had intended to come across as positive, but just chose the wrong time, place and words.

On the flip side, I said to myself, perhaps she's right. Now, before you get your panties in a bunch, hear me out.

Haven't we been too easy on ourselves? Aren't we always pointing the finger of blame at someone else? It's your mother, father, spouse, society or the food industry's fault that we're fat.

Does that sound familiar?

Maybe the bottom line is, we don't want to face the music. Maybe it's high time that we took the bitter pill of truth and stopped fooling ourselves.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. Furthermore, according to the CDC, more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7 percent) and approximately 17 percent (12.5 million) of those 2-19 years old are obese.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report "F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America (2013)" states: Thirteen states now have adult obesity rates above 30 percent, 41 states have rates of 25 percent, and every state is above 20 percent.

Pennsylvania ranked 21 percent, with obesity tipping the scales at 29.1 percent. If we keep trending on this course, by 2030, 50 percent of Pennsylvanians will likely be obese. That's not just bad news for our waistlines, but also bad for our regional economy and the rising cost of health care. Like the rest of the nation, we Pennsylvanians have much work to do.

How much longer can we continue to blame society, the fast-food industry, our families or spouses for overeating? Are we just living in the abyss of denial?

Yes, to a great extent, we are living in a sort of collective denial. So, while I may have taken exception to that woman's brusque delivery, maybe a verbal sucker punch to the gut will rattle some cages and shake folks up enough to make positive changes.


Kimberly Garrison is a wellness coach and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia. Her column appears Wednesdays.

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