Monday, January 10, 2011

Dear Blog Reader

Hi Blog Readers!  So, this is my second post for today.  Sorry for the overkill.  Okay, not sorry...this is my blog, I guess I can post as many times as I want right?  So, as many of you know, I just posted a blog about a pretty difficult and tricky subject :  Wake Up Americans!  Obesity, Diet and Inactivity is Killing Us!  I am so amazed by the thoughtful comments you gave about this subject. Thank you!  Makes me even more thankful for this blog and the resource and community that it is.  

I just received a sincere and thoughtful e-mail from one of my readers and I wanted to share it because I'm sure that if she feels this way then there are others out there who may also feel similarly and I want to make sure I respond to these opinions or feelings.  I'm so glad she e-mailed because she sounds like an awesome person.

"Dear Amanda,
As a formerly very thin person who let herself gain weight over the years, I just had a few thoughts, not out of anger, just thoughts. I used to think the same things about obese people, until I gained about 60 pounds during three pregnancies. I used to run 10k and half-marathons and loved them. I'm not going to blame a medical problem it's all me. I have a college degree, my husband has a great job, so why do I struggle? I don't know. Maybe it's karma, or God teaching me not to judge, but as an obese person I have learned so much. Obese people have feelings too. They don't want to be fat. Looking them in the eyes or smiling at them won't make you fat. They enjoy talking about movies, books, healthy cooking, and doing fun things too. After a recent move I can't believe how hard it has been to make friends. If I do lose weight and get back to where I want to be I hope I will remember how it felt. Everyone of those fat people you saw today probably had a story that would have made you understand their situation. It is such an overwhelming feeling to know you have so much weight to lose. To be honest the things that encourage me the most are friends who are supportive including motivating blogs. I actually didn't think your post was bad, it was the comments. It made me think of those shows where they make people wear fat suits to learn empathy. I read running blogs for motivation and appreciate your honesty. Like I said it was not your post, just the reaction. I think honesty is great in blogs. I guess I'm your only fat reader. And for the record I rarely take me kids to McDonalds and they are very healthy weights.

Just my thoughts. 

My Response to her:

Dear _______,

Thank you so much for your e-mail.  I appreciate it very much and am so glad that you wrote.  I can definitely see how you could have taken the comments on my blogs to be harsh toward obese people.  I'm sorry that you feel judgement and isolation from people based on your weight.  I hope you know that I do believe strongly that these people are People and have their own story.  I think most of the people who commented on this blog post also know this.  Nobody knows the story behind another person's life until they have walked a mile in their shoes.  It is not the people that disgust me.  I know that so many people want to lose weight, work hard at it, and are trying to be active and make healthier choices.  What disgusts me and makes me so sad are the people that don't do anything to fix the problem.  There are a lot of people out there that just don't care.  And if this was just their issue then it would be one thing but their decisions to not care affect us all in some way.  It also disgusts me (not disgusted with them but the situation) to see how many people out there are just plain clueless about how to eat and how to lose weight.  This makes me sad more than disgusted.  We as Americans need to take care of our own...we need to help educate others about food, exercise and what bad food choices and inactivity are doing to us as a Nation.  

You don't sound like a person who is doing nothing.  It sounds to me like you are working hard, making choices to help yourself, and doing things to help motivate yourself (reading fitness blogs, exercise, etc.).  You don't sound like the person in line to get blood pressure medicine as you chomp down on your last potato chip from your Lays Bag.  I am so sorry if you feel judged. 

I am also not blind to how truly hard it must be to lose weight after a certain point.  I have a very dear person in my life who has worked so very very hard to eat right, exercise often, and make as many good choices as possible and he is still having a hard time getting the last chunk of weight off.  I see how hard he struggles, how difficult it is for him to turn down his favorite foods, and how much his family worries about him.  It isn't easy for is a daily battle.  I know how fortunate I am to not having troubles with weight and to have had the opportunities to read and learn about diet and exercise.  I am so fortunate and I know that it isn't as easy for some.  

I hope that Americans as a whole will become more informed, care more, and make better choices so that our health care doesn't continue to get out of control and people don't continue to die from their poor diet and lack of activity.  I also hope for them because of how much happiness they are missing out on in life.  

Again, you don't sound like one of those people that I was referring to today.  I don't judge someone from how much they weigh or how they look.  I smile at most people and I listen to the stories of others.  I believe that we can learn from each and every person we meet in life and I am above NO ONE!  God knows that I have things in my own life that I desperately need to improve on.  What upset me today was seeing these people shove greasy food from MacDonald's down their throats as they were waiting to refill their meds that were probably meant to fix the problem caused by that food.  I only wish that half of these people were as motivated and hopeful as you.  

I wish you so much love and I hope that you make many new friends soon as you mentioned.  Moving can be hard!  I also am eager to hear how your weight loss progress goes.  Good for you for making the effort even when it is hard and when you feel a lack of support and encouragement.  I hope that I can be encouraging and supportive to you.  And hopefully be a blog "friend" as you adjust to your new place of living.  Thanks again for sharing your reflections and thinking.  I value you!  




  1. Wow, I just lost a marathon length comment on your last post because it was too large...imagine that. I will comment on this one instead here!

    Quite a thought provoking topic! Excellent response! I really try not to judge, try to accept people for who they are and try to treat EVERYONE with respect. That being said, I am also greatly disgusted with the situation that our nation has found itself in. I can imagine how difficult it would be to overcome a weight problem and don't belittle that...I also GREATLY respect those who make an effort to better their situation while fighting constant feelings of inadequacy and embarrasment. It's the others that make it so difficult....

    Referencing your last post....I'm concerned about how America got this way. I truly believe our demise is due in part to the overconsumption of processed foods. We are obsessed with calories but eat things that have a shelf life of 7 years! I'm not a complete follower but I think the theory that one's cupboards should be bare of anything that has a shelf life longer than two weeks has some merit (Bob from the Biggest Loser)

    Inactivity-DEPRESSING. My kids have eaten junk, cookies, pizza but they also love fruits and vegetables and LOVE activity. 9 times out of 10 they would drop the chip bag for a game of tag....This should be the norm, not the exception....

    I could write so much but this is a comment not a short story...

  2. Slightly repetitive since my two last comments actually posted-ha! Anyway, apparently I've made my feelings known!

  3. It is so important to be able to place yourself in someone else's spot. Not to just look at the world from where they stand through YOUR eyes... but to really be able to see it all how THEY see it and FEEL about it. I am so glad Anonymous wrote to you. (And I think you gave her a wonderful reply.)

  4. What a heartfelt comment and response. You could've just kept this to yourself, but instead you shared the very personal struggles of one of your followers.

    Kudos to you for a thoughtful and considerate response.

    You are truly an insprirational blogger Amanda!!

  5. Thanks girls. I just want people to know that this is not a situation where I am sitting on my high horse looking down my nose at people...this is a real and serious issue in America and people are dying from it. Losing weight isn't always easy and for some, it is truly a problem. My good friend had such a hard time losing weight until she had a hysterectomy (sp?) and then things just started working for her body. Her weight wasn't from her diet or inactivity...she really just had a difficult time losing the weight...this is different from what I am talking about.

  6. Thank you for sharing this, obesity can be debilitating. I work for an agency who helps the disabled and I see how obesity can exacerbate there ailments. I also see how we live in a country that makes it cheaper to eat McDonald's than to buy apples. Extreme example I know, but I also live in a city that has a disproportionate poverty rate, high school drop out rate and guess what, we happen to have an very high obesity rate. Not a coincidence.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful posts.

  7. Your response couldn't have been any more perfect. Also...your comment on your kids with the quinoa totally cracked me up! I am sure I was like that when I was little. My fam used to say I had a list of 10 foods I would eat, and that was IT! I'm pretty sure quinoa wouldn't have made the list. You'll have to give me your recipes! How old are you kiddies??
    xoxo megs

  8. You know, I have always been fit and I took it for granted, until I get preggo. Three times, THREE mind you I gained 100-130 pounds. And three times I lost it all in less than a year.. I did learn a lesson and I did feel more empathy being large. However, I also learned that you can lose it as easily as you have gained with hard work and determination. No excuses- its science-physics actually. Eat less-move more. Ive done it 3 times and I was never big before (or after now that the baby factory is closed)but in my brief and depressed stint I did learn that it is that simple. Its not fun all of the time to chose the apple, or count out 9 chips, or squeeze your lumps and bumps into spandex workout tights but if you do it, it will work. For all the big mommas there- its NEVER too late to become who you are meant to be. Just make one good choice and then add another good choice and it will happen. I feel the gal who wrote you- I always wished I had a discalimer " I really am fit and thin--just not right this second. So take the first step Miss Annoymus, and 2012 might just greet a whole new you!

  9. I had a thought just now - after reading the letter you received. In "real" life we all see each other and have our first impressions made before ever become friends.

    A great think I think that happens with this blogging community is that we sometimes really get to know and truly like some writers -- and we have NO idea what he or she may look like! Maybe if my readers knew me in real life they wouldn't be able to stand me? Maybe if I saw some people I enjoy reading, at first glance would I want to talk to them? Who knows??

    But with us not being able to always see faces, we get a chance to actually read and learn about the people inside without judgement. I think that's really cool!

  10. Wow. Talk about thought provoking.

    She is absolutely right. EVERYBODY has a story. There is a reason for the struggle. If someone wants to get healthier and they make an effort, I respect that. No matter how small. I think she has a great attitude. I am sad that she feels judged and that our comments may have been offensive.

    I pride myself on being open minded and try not to be judgmental. If you are reading this... I understand the struggle. I get it, I really do. I am a bit of an idealist and I would love to see our rates of obesity drop to nearly nothing, but that isn't realistic, is it? Everyone has their own journey and it isn't easy.

    Thanks for posting this, Amanda.

  11. the great challenge in this situation is to balance our love and understanding of the individual with our desire to help everyone achieve their potential. i think i fall too much on the side of sympathy for those that struggle with this issue. my entire family, on both sides, is overweight. some have "dieted" others had surgery. all of them struggle with weight induced medical issues. my heart breaks. but just feeling bad for people won't make a difference. then there's "tough love" approach (most easily seen on the biggest loser). i see the place for that. for confronting the issues and helping people realize that they are literally killing themselves.

    hopefully i will learn to be more proactive in the lives of my loved ones that struggle with obesity. and hopefully those who get angry over this issue will temper that with compassion. it takes both sides.

  12. Both wonderful and heartfelt emails. I appreciate the honesty in both emails so much. She is right, we are all people who deserve to be loved. Very nice blog to start my day with!

  13. Oh and I meant to say that I LOVE getting comments from you! They are always so sweet and encouraging! I wish we lived close so we could hang out and run!! You're awesome, Amanda!!!

  14. Sure, the reader is correct, everyone has a story and I think your response was perfect. I kind of feel the urge to expand upon this on my own blog post - not sure if I will or not, but you've certainly sparked something I feel strongly about.

  15. THE MORE YOU POST THE BETTER, I could never get sick of you:) You replied beautifully. I could not agree with you more. Thank you for posting on such a tough subject. It is something I have to teach a lot about in my health classes and it is hard to be sensitive and help people life healthier lifestyles at the same time...I think you did it perfect!! I just think the world of you! Have a great day!

  16. I would like to assure the person who posted that she is not the only obese person who reads your blogs. I, also, gained a bunch of weight over my 5 pregnancies and am getting into rock climbing with my husband. Our kids have started at our local rec center and are so into it.. its not the typical work out routine so we are encouraged at the effects of our workouts already. Trying to find time to exercise is hard when you have a bunch of kids ranging in age from 4-16 and climbing age at the rec center is 7. We have tried going to the gym at 5am (painful) or trying to walk when they are finally in bed (11pm still painful). Keeping any sort of routine has been nearly impossible. Trying to make sure you eat enough so your body doesn't go into starvation when your job is so sedentary is hard. Being afraid to eat because you know you aren't active enough to burn off the calories you are eating but knowing if you don't eat your body will store anything that comes into your mouth...

    I have known you for a long time, Amanda. I know you aren't one to insult people. You are a very sweet person who feels for people. I, like you, am disgusted when I see severely overweight parents with their severely overweight kids going into any greasy fast food places. My 5 biological children are all height/weight proportionate and very healthy. My step-son is not. We are happy he is actively working on the rock climbing walls at our rec center and pushing himself to finish walls. His increase in motivation has been encouraging. His issue is more emotional than anything else as being carted between 2 distinctly different families has had its toll on him. He's an only child in one house, and one of 6 in the other. Our home is Christian, his mom's pagan. I have allergies to pets so we are pet free, his mom's house has a veritable zoo. We don't smoke. His mom and step-dad do. He doesn't pay attention to when he's full and eats for comfort. We're trying to get the rock climbing to take that place. We monitor what he eats and how much and cut him off at a reasonable amount and have him exercise more. From what we can tell, his mom's home isn't like that. We do what we can, when we can.

    My point is that we do all come different backgrounds and different body types and different metabolisms. We have our own emotional baggage which can keep us from losing weight. We have our preconceived notions based on how people look or where they eat (BTW it is possible to eat healthy at those greasy fast food places, as long as you know what the best options are). Obese people are included in that. We make assumptions on skinny people being skinny because they starve themselves or do nothing but exercise or were just gifted with an amazing metabolism. We have a misconception that you have to work out non stop and not eat anything in order to lose weight. That's how it feels to us. It is one of the things that keep many obese people from trying. Pushing past that takes motivation like you wouldn't believe. Mine? I want to be an example to my children. My oldest is pregnant. I want to be a physically beautiful, and healthy, grandmother.

  17. Love this Leah. Love you! Thank you for this wonderful contribution to this discussion. So great to hear from you and get yet another new perspective.

  18. Also Leah, I think you make a good point, that there are ways people can even make Healthier choices at these places like MacDonalds. There is not an overnight solution to this is going to take small changes and people slowly starting to wake up take control over their life and their choices. Not everyone is just going to say Yes, let's all be Vegan or Vegetarian or start going to the gym 5 days a isn't that easy and as you show in your comment...It is downright HARD!!! Especially if you are already in a situation where you are working so hard to make ends meet, deal with LIFE problems, deal with financial stress, and all the other things that come with life...Hard to dig out and not something people necessarily have to do alone. I do care. I care a lot. Thanks again! And what you said about skinny people and the misconceptions about them and how they are skinny made me think too...there are just as many unhealthy skinny people out there that are killing themselves with inactivity, nasty eating habits, drugs, poor mental health, etc. So true!

  19. The reason I became a personal trainer is because I had one of my twins, at age 11, at 70 and one at 166. The 166 wasn't eating poorly, he just never felt full and never knew when to quit eating. Everyone has different reasons for their weight gain and sometimes it's not always so black and white why.

    Happy to say, btw, he lost 35 lbs in 5 months and though he will always need to be more careful than his fortunate twin who never gains an ounce, he is doing very well. He's my mountain climber guy and knows he has to sustain a healthy weight to get up them things :).

  20. Great post from both of you. Yes, we need to be aware, there's always 2 sides to any issue. Do we judge, yes, I'm afraid we do, i'm sorry, but that is life. Thin runner's are judged too. They are always running, they starve themselves, etc., etc. I am not skinny or fat, but I am guilty of judging. What about the skinny McDonald's patron who never get's off the couch they are judged as anorexic, or bulimic, they must be. I think we all realize there are special circumstances, and special reasons why people are LARGE in our country, but we are talking about the majority of the overweight. The majority choose it, otherwise they would make changes.

    It is our choice to absorb the judging or move forward with our lives. We can't allow others thoughts control our lives.

    I would like to recommend that you join the local running club. Our club is open to walkers and runners of all sizes. I think you need to be around people who are in, or heading in the direction you want to go. We are very encouraging to beginners, overweight people, everyone is welcome. Please give it a try and make 1 right choice today to move your life in the direction you want to go. It is a choice! We each decide each day. (this is from someone who never remains at her goal weight for long, but I chose to keep trying, and one day I will succeed.)

  21. I thought her email and your response was very heartfelt. I think it is a great topic that brings great discussion. I really understand the mental battle it is to make good food choices. I love food and could easily be 300 plus pounds, I'm sure, if I wasn't active and wasn't able to reign it in. My heart goes out to, as obviously, yours does too, to those that are overweight.