Sunday, August 21, 2005

Are Weight And Wealth Interconnected?

I'm going to discuss a topic today that is considered taboo in many circles, but it must openly talked about for the whole world to see. It is so important a subject that the Nashua, New Hampshire-based Telegraph newspaper reprinted this recent Los Angeles Times story about it today. The focus of the article is how your weight problem can and will determine your current and future wealth.

The story notes that most people who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of getting heart disease, diabetes and even death. The medical costs associated with obesity add an additional $75 billion (that's billion with a "B") annually to our healthcare system. Is it any wonder why our insurance premiums have increased and benefits have decreased in recent years?

While I am not blaming people who are obese for putting our country in that position since I used to be among the worst of the worst regarding morbid obesity, I do think that people who think there is no way out of their personal situation should realize that they are not only damaging their health but also their wealth by refusing to do something about their weight. I have felt it personally in my own life.

I was interviewed by someone in the media last week and she asked me if people treat me differently now that I have lost a lot of weight. My response to her was that a lot of people are more apt to start a conversation with me now than when I was 410 pounds. Part of that could be that I am more open and confident than I was when I was heavier. But, I am sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that I no longer have this huge visual reminder in my mid-section that told others that I could not control my eating habits well enough to prevent myself from becoming obese. I can never allow myself to get that way ever again (and won't!).

As for my career, I believe my weight has cost me the opportunity to have a few jobs that I really wanted and prevented me from moving up into higher positions in the jobs that I have held. I told that reporter in my interview that fat people are the only group of people in the world who are allowed to be ridiculed and discriminated against at will by society. You can't do that to someone of a different race, religion or sex because there are laws against it. But not for people who are overweight or obese.

We (and yes I still feel a kindred spirit with those who are obese because I was in their shoes for so much of my life) are subjected to hate-filled speech and mocking disdain from friends, family and even complete strangers. Jokes are made at our expense by late-night television talk show hosts and comedians who think it's funny to put down a fat person. NEWSFLASH! It's NOT funny. Not one bit. Unless you have been overweight or obese yourself, you have no idea how painful these negative comments can be to a desperate soul wishing there was a way out of their seemingly endless weight gain. It is not a fun experience, but my story provides a glimmer of hope that it is not a permanent one either.

There are ways to get out of that rut and on the path to better health. There are an estimated 60 million Americans who are considered "seriously overweight" today and equipping them with good information that can help them lick this obesity monster once and for all is sorely needed. That's why I started this blog and will continue to declare to the world that there is hope in livin' la vida low-carb for even the most skeptical of all skeptics. My 180-pound weight loss is clear evidence of this truth.

So what about this connection between health and wealth? Which came first the chicken or the egg? While people who are poor are forced to choose cheaper foods than their wealthy counterparts, there are indications that overweight people spend a lot of wasted money on junk food, extra medical expenses, larger clothes that you keep ripping when you bend over as you keep getting bigger and bigger (I will NEVER go inside of a big & tall store again for the rest of my life charging $45 for a pair of slacks I could buy at Wal-mart for $19.99!), and my favorite expense, DIETS! All of this costs a whole buncha moohla and can perpetuate the problem even further by forcing the obese to buy cheaper and cheaper junk foods which are generally loaded with unhealthy amounts of sugar and excessive carbohydrates.

Add to all of this the fact that severly obese people make less money than their "normal-weight" co-workers do and women especially get hit hard on this one. A New York University study that released this summer found that for every 10 percent increase there was in a woman's body mass over "normal" there was a coincidal 6 percent decrease in her income. YIKES! Makes you wanna start walking on the treadmill and munching on some healthy low-carb foods, doesn't it?

But when you are overweight or obese, you generally are very depressed about your situation, lack the energy to invest in proper diet and exercise that you know you need, and look for conveniences such as fast food over better nutritional choices because you're just too tired to care anymore. It is a deep hole that can be difficult to pull yourself out of. But since I used to be there and was able to get out of that hole myself, let me tell you that it can and must be done. It is not hopeless if you are willing to convince yourself that this is something that you should do for yourself.

Nobody is going to make this decision for you and YOU will be the final say about whether it happens or not. There are no excuses good enough to deny yourself the opportunity to finally get what you want. Whether it is weight loss, better health, or an improved self-image, the decision you make about what you will do will be life-changing for the good or for the worse. Take it from me, I've been there. It's not an easy decision. But you will someday look back and be glad you took that first step forward to get serious about your weight problem. The solution is just waiting on you to get moving (both literally and figuratively!).

As obesity has doubled in the United States since 1980, the corresponding financial impact it has had on those people has been enormous. Ohio State University economist Jay Zagorsky found in a study released earlier this year that "normal-weight" people had twice as much weight as obese people by the time they reached the age of 39. That's a scary number and I can personally attest to the veracity of that in my own life. While I have always made enough money to pay my bills, I have been unable to enjoy the financial success that I expected to have by the time I reached my early 30's. Even with a graduate degree I have not been able to move higher than a certain level in my wages during the 15 years I have been a part of the workforce.

I KNOW my weight has had a lot to do with that. I am so thankful that I found the low-carb lifestyle when I did not only for the sake of my future health, but also for the wealth potential I can now look forward to. I have made myself a better commodity for any company who needs my services to benefit their company. They can trust that since I was able to bring stability to my personal health that I can perform the duties they would have me to do in the same manner. The possibilities are endless and extremely exciting! Are you listening, potential employers? LOL!

Zagorsky said he has found that people who significantly decrease their body weight (I'd say 180 pounds qualifies for this distinction) may very likely see a corresponding rise in their personal wealth after they lose the weight because of a better salary or a higher-paying job. I'm certainly looking forward to this myself. That's Jimmy with a "J" or I gladly accept cash! :-)

I fully expect the turnaround in my own life is far from over. While the dramatic change from 410 down to 230 has been an unbelievable experience in and of itself. I believe the best is yet to come. I have been given the opportunity in this forum and perhaps other venues to share with people the incredible benefits of the low-carb lifestyle. If this didn't work for me, then I wouldn't be making such a big deal about it. But it did and I am. If I have to travel from city to city across this wonderful land of ours to tell people about how livin' la vida low-carb can help them, then that is what I am willing to do. It's time to get on the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Express" to inform every man, woman, and child that obesity is not an inevitable fate. Who's with me?


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