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Saturday, March 26, 2011

I am what I am

“I am what I am and that’s all that I am” –Popeye the Sailor man
This quote from one of the most endearing characters in America History tells us a lot about ourselves. This sentiment reflects the rugged individualism that defines us as Americans. What it says is what you see is what you get like it or leave it.

Having been a fan of the spinach eating sailor since I was little I always appreciated that streak of independence. Lately it strikes me that we may need to rekindle that spirit of his “I am what I am” mantra and even apply it in other areas of life. For example instead of listening to every Tom, Dick and Harry with a lab coat tell us what our BMI should be and what our ideal weight ideally is why not decide I am what I am.

Working inside the beast called healthcare I very often see the frustration of those who feel that what the doctor says is just out of reach. Too often this frustration coupled with guilt for even looking at something sweet or fried leads to more guilt and poor self image. After the persistent message is that overweight and obese people simply lack the self control and will power to get healthy? Maybe the doughnut is in the other hand so to speak.

Rather than always lambaste the unwashed masses for their supposed inability to get with the program why not scrutinize the program for its relation to reality. In his book The Obesity Myth: Why America’s Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to your Health author Paul Campos exposes the “witch-hunt masquerading as a public health initiative”. In the book he points out how those with the reins of power in public health have “distorted available evidence” and “severely exaggerated” the risk association between weight and health.

What Mr. Campos, a lawyer by trade, has stumbled upon I have seen and written about for years. People come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are big and some are small, some are short and others are tall. To try and force everyone in the country into a one size fits all health model is ludicrous. Not only is it a bad idea is it is a serious waste of taxpayer money as untold millions are spent annually to help us get fit and healthy with no observable benefit.

So on your next visit to the doctor and they give that mindless line “you would be a lot healthier if you just lost 10 pounds” be prepared to say “I am what I am and that’s all that I am. Do not allow anyone to push a line of guilt on you. Remember that most of us with a little extra around the middle are just as healthy and fit as everyone else. Do not be defined by the size of your pants or the number on the scale be happy with who you naturally are!

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