Some of my earliest memories as a kid are of feeling hungry and
always wanting more. When I grew up and moved out on my own, it only
got worse. I was free to eat as much as I wanted, and did. I was
ashamed of that, so I kept it a secret.
My shame affected every aspect of my life for decades. There aren’t
many photos of me with my two sons when they were little. I’ve never
attended a school reunion. I avoided weddings and parties. I worried
about keeping up on campus tours when my kids visited colleges. But
the most important thing I put off was speaking to my doctor about my weight.
When I was 39, I decided I didn’t want to be ‘Fair, Fat, and Forty’,
so I went on a diet and lost 100 lbs. When the weight came back, I was
crushed. I mustered up the courage to talk to my doctor, but he was
dismissive. Diet and exercise was the only advice he could offer.
Now I know better, and with
the support of others in the obesity community, I feel better too.
If there’s one message I want to share with health care providers,
it’s that people like me WANT to be asked, respectfully, if we want to
talk about our weight. Because obesity is linked to many
weight-related disorders, and impacts our health. We want to
understand why obesity is a disease like any other, and why it needs
to be treated as such. Complete and respectful care is possible, and
it can include lifestyle change, medicines and surgery. When I finally
learned that obesity is a disease, and of the options available to
help, it changed my life.
And speaking of life changes, one of my sons got married in July.
When he announced his engagement, for the first time ever, I was free
to completely enjoy the moment. And my first thought (after being
happy for my son and future daughter-in-law) was, “I don’t need to
lose any weight. I’m in control and fine just the way I am.”
Donna has a video message for people living with obesity: