There are few things worse than being so fat that you hate looking in the mirror. Shopping for clothes that are anything besides leisure wear is painful and don’t get me started on what it’s like to get winded when you bend down to tie your shoelaces. Even if you somehow manage to find clothes that you feel slightly confident in, you’ll quickly get thrown back down to earth when you realize that you have to purchase an extra seat every time you fly. The embarrassment of having people stare at me as the airline hostess explained that I was making other passengers uncomfortable due to my size was the most horrifying thing I had ever dealt with. While it was one of those moments where I realized that the weight was too much, reading about a recent CDC study on the cancer risks for overweight and obese people was the moment I decided to change.
THE MOMENT WHEN I FINALLY SAID ENOUGH
Did you know that 2 out of every 3 adults in the United States is overweight or obese? While we may live in a time where people are more accepting of others, no one should be okay with tipping the scales so much that they are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than slimmer people. The everyday annoyances that come with being fat, like the inability to climb a set of stairs without losing your breath or having to shop at specialty stores for clothing are many –but what about the health risks? In the US, smoking is the only health risk related to cancer that is anywhere near as dangerous as being overweight or obese. In addition to heart disease, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes and other debilitating health conditions, cancer is a huge threat to people who are overweight and obese. In fact, CDC studies have shown that people who are overweight or obese actually make up about 40 percent of the people diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States. More specifically, there are 13 different types of cancer that
overweight and obese people are more likely to be diagnosed with. That’s right, 13 different types of cancer. With numbers like that, I knew that I needed to make a change.
HOW CAN YOU DECREASE YOUR RISK OF OBESITY-RELATED CANCERS?
With all of the different everyday challenges I faced as a “fat” person, the wake-up call that I needed to get healthy began with that CDC study. While making healthy changes won’t transform your life overnight, gradual steps can instantly improve your overall health and reduce your risk for cancer and other obesity-related health conditions. The American Diabetes Association has some great info on losing weight at a healthy pace. They found that just 150 minutes of exercise each week and a 5 to 7 percent reduction in body weight via healthy eating can help to reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 60 percent. But this doesn’t mean that you suddenly have to hit the gym 6 times a week and live off of salad. I found that tracking my steps each day with an app on my phone was a great way to get moving.
MAKE MORE HEALTHY CHOICES
After I started moving more, I decided to make better choices surrounding food as well. To kick off my healthy eating experiment, I started counting my calories. This helped me to quickly understand that even when I was eating healthy, I was eating portions that were way too big. By working closely with my doctor on a diet and exercise plan, I was able to improve my heart function and reduce my risk of developing those 13 types of cancer. If you are overweight or obese and the daily struggles of being fat haven’t been enough to motivate you to change, then maybe the fear of cancer will. While it’s not always easy, I can guarantee you that it’s all worth it.