Friday, January 23, 2009

sympathy for the obese

Since getting home from Cleveland, I've been ridiculously busy. I like it this way though. Usually my evenings are free for family time, however, this week I've been tied up in the evenings with my sons soccer practice and a couple of talks that I gave.

I spoke Wednesday to the Bethel tri club on pre-season training, and specifically, what we should be doing in January, February and March. Megan S. heads up this club and is really doing great things. It seems they keep getting more and more new members. I enjoy giving these talks - I guess I just like running my mouth.

Today, I witnessed an obese person struggle to get inside their car that was parked at a normal parking distance to the car next to it. I have talked to many of my athletic and thin friends who have zero point zero tolerance for obesity in others. I used to be in the same boat, until I had the chance to work with quite a few - assisting them in getting their health, and life in control. I now feel quite bad for most obese people, and if you look around our country a bit, you realize that the obese outweigh (no pun) the healthy or thin.

Sure, many obese are quite lazy, but until you know their background, don't be so quick to judge. When you have grown up with terrible habits that started with your parents and with bad genetics as many of the obese have, it's harder than you think to get the eating under control. I took my kids to Dairy Queen this past summer and witnessed a mother give her two obese sons large Blizzards (have you seen the size of these?!), and while waiting for the DQ staff to make their blizzards, they woofed down two large sugary frozen slurpee type things. This, in my opinion, is child abuse. Then, they have to also deal with the social insecurities that are compounded as they age.

At the same time, I worked as a cardiac technician and witnessed my fair share of obese related tragedies, so I'm certainly not easy on obesity when it comes to training someone. I remember clearly the first time I was called down to the ER for a code situation. A 48 year old woman was suffering a massive heart attack. She came flying in on a gurney, topless and with velcroed compression pants on, an EMT straddling her and applying CPR. I hooked up electrodes to monitor her electrocardiogram and then stood back and watched. Her left ventricle shut down, and was filling rapidly with blood, so the ER doctor forcefully jabbed a metal straw like device through her chest and into the left ventricle to drain it. Then, they gave her a huge shot directly into the heart to get it going again, as blood poured out of the drain, partly into a container, but mostly all over her and the table. Then, she flat lined, and they got out the crash cart. Before I knew it, the doctor says to an attending nurse "what's the time?" as he removed his gloves and stepped away from the obese mess on the table. The nurse began jotting down notes as they removed some jewelry and placed it in a plastic bag to pass on to her immediate family. I stood there devastated. In fact, I remember an ER doctor telling me to get going in removing the electrodes. Anyways, what a shame, and at 48 years old.

I work with people that could toss out most if not all of the medications they are taking to control diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, ... if they'd just commit to losing weight. I figure that mostly athletes are reading this, so be thankful that you have found a venue that keeps you committed and driven towards a healthy lifestyle. Sure, I realize that you work your ass off for your health as do I. It's still not something to take for granted.

Busy weekend ahead, and again, that's the way I like it!




Anonymous said...

Great post.

This is something that I think about from time to time and was actually mulling it over yesterday.. we July 1st dorks must have something in common.

I used to also have very little sympathy for the obese but as the years go on my tolerance and "black and white" views have come more to the middle.

It's easy to say to a drug addict, over eater, alcholic "knock it off - you're killing yourself" but we haven't lived in their shoes, enduring horrible parenting, been subject to crappy genetics or had a pervert uncle touch us as a child and screw us up for years.

Another thing that concerns me is that biggest loser show. I've seen just a bit but it does concern me to take some really out of shape obese people and have them go zero to sixty in one day jumping into full force long, intense workouts.

I'll give the over/under as two years before they have a contestant go into cardiac arrest.

It makes for great tv I guess but they're going to kill someone. I guess as long as the cameras are rolling it'll be worth it for the high ratings.


Keith said...

Good thoughtful post. My feelings about obese people have changed over the years, especially when some of the measurements put me in that category. 280 lbs on a medium 6' 3" frame is darned heavy. Just too many years of not enough activity and too much good food.

Now I've been at 230 for a bunch of months, have lost many inches around the middle, and tightened up considerably. I'm hoping as my training activity picks up, and I start being a bit more careful about my diet, that I'll start shedding weight again.

For me, it's been easy. All I had to do was gradually ramp up my activity level. Granted, it's up to a level that most people wouldn't do.

I feel for those with a genuine medical issue, or a poor genetic inheritance. They have to work hard to get to the starting line. But I believe that most obese people have surrendered control of their bodies to something else. To emotional pain, to stress, to fear, to ignorance, and I don't know how many other things.

I believe that almost all of them could get the weight back under control. They might *say* they would like to be thin again, but they aren't willing to do what it takes. Admittedly, that some of them might need medical help with hormone or dietary supplements, or mental counseling of some kind, or very careful supervision of the resumption of physical activity. So do it!

But it's about taking responsibility. And it seems that so many people don't want to take responsibility for themselves. It's so much easier to blame someone or something else.

Eric said...

Straz, thanks - great comment. My wife is a fan of the Biggest Loser. On the occassion that I catch an episode, I always comment to her what you said - that I'm amazed someone hasnt dropped dead yet.

Keith - thank you, another great comment and thanks for sharing. Yes, it certainly is about taking responsability. For those with deep rooted emotional issues from their youth, it's much harder. For those who were thin in their youth and grew fat in adulthood, I have little tolerance.

Congratulations to you for taking action and taking control. Well done!



Anonymous said...

Dude thanks for not using my name in your post about when you saw me getting into my car.

John H