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Sunday, February 03, 2008

The super obese - where is the cut off point?
One thing I can count on every January is that we will be deluged by weight loss ads on tv, magazines, newspapers etc. Every diet program will buy twice as much airtime, my gym will get very crowded for a short while (it's already tapering off now, in early February) and that half the people we know will commit that their new years resolution is going to be about losing weight.

What I didn't expect to happen around this time of year was a veritable onslaught of tv programs about the super obese. I have had a weird fascination with tv shows about people who are extremely overweight, but last month I probably got the opportunity to watch like 15 seperate programs about them.

I am not referring to The Biggest Loser, which by the way, I love (I think I could write a whole other blog on that, and maybe will, soon) but such shows as Big Medicine (about gastric bypass surgery), and then the one off programs - like "We lost 800 pounds - Jackie & Robin" or "Obese at 16" or "Super Obese", a show about people at the Andover Clinic for the dangerously overweight.

I don't know what about these shows is so compelling. I guess I am fascinated with how people get themselves to the point where they weight 700 pounds or 1000 pounds. I wonder - were these people 250 or 300 pounds and never saw it coming? Did it surprise them to realize one day that they were so large they couldn't get out of bed? Most of the shows where the people are really large, like this guy Alan on Big Medicine, they lie in bed all day naked. They have to worry about getting bed sores. They wear breathing machines at night because they have dangerous sleep apnea. Their muscles atrophy. Somebody has to come in and clean and wash them because they can't do it for themselves. How does this happen? How do you go from just being fat to being that fat?

I wonder where the line is for people in terms of their size. At my heaviest I was 233 pounds, which many thin people that I know find/found alarming (it's amazing how different size is viewed amongst our plus size community and the general community - in plus size land I was sort of average in my plus-ness). If I had not decided to change my life - would I have become 300 pounds? 350 pounds? 500? Where is an individual's point where they say stop?

I am curious if any of you have a mental cut off point. A place in your head, whether it would be a clothing size, a weight, or an inability to participate in an activity that you believe you set your limit by? I remember once in college a doctor told me that if I kept on the path I was on, I would soon weigh over 200 pounds. I found this ridiculous. I would NEVER weigh over 200 pounds. And then, just like that, I did. And I have no memory of the day it happened. It just went and kept going. And then one day, I just decided to change (you've all read that story....). But I'd like to hear if any of you have one of these cut offs? Or if you've had a cut off and passed it? Or if your cut off actually changed your life? No matter whether the story turned out good or bad, I'd love to hear it. Please share your stories!


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