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:
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 him...it 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!