The Fattest Province

This past Monday CBC Radio’s Downsizing was awarded a Silver in the New York Festivals award show in NYC.

I just want to say that I am honoured by this. In fact, I can’t quite believe it.

I can remember when my lady friend Caitlin, on our very first date, suggested that I write this stuff down. I reacted like a child, “no, some things you just don’t say”.

Well, I guess I didn’t stick to my guns on that one at all. So… my bad.

A big thanks to Heather Barrett (producer/editor/sound engineer extraordinaire) and the rest of the fine folks at CBC NL.

Many readers have come here due to my time on CBC Radio. Thank you all for sharing the journey with me — all of your kind notes, comments, and handshakes in supermarkets have helped more than you will ever know.

Thank you all so very much.

Now, onto the business at hand.

The Fattest Province

“The year was 2081, and finally everyone was equal.” Kurt Vonnegut

Last week a study was released that touted Newfoundland and Labrador (the place I call home) the fattest province in Canada.

It’s not a shock — we received this terrible distinction last year as well.

Moments after the article was posted on local media sites — the comedians rolled on out.

Many were saying that it’s about time we all (fat peeps) look in a mirror and admit to ourselves that it’s our own damn fault. That we should stop eating our feelings and pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps… yadda yadda yadda.

I’m going to preface this by saying, I am NOT a fitness professional. But I AM somebody who’s struggling to get healthy. And I can tell you all beyond a shadow of a doubt that standing yourself in front of a mirror and telling yourself that it’s all YOUR fault will not work for everyone.

Perhaps I should say that it wouldn’t have worked for me.

The last thing we need is more shame. Trust me, we’ve got plenty enough in the tank. And some of us don’t. Some of us are really friggin’ happy about ourselves — and that, my friends, is awesome.

Give ‘er.

But for those of us that struggle, the equation is far more complex than just get off your arse and exercise. There’s an entire process that has to happen before we get to that point.

Obesity’s sole causation isn’t being lazy and eating too much. There are all kinds of bio-chemical, psychological, cultural, socio-economic, and genetic factors at play — science that I won’t even pretend to understand, I just know that it plays a part.

Life is not the Biggest Loser. Bob and a camera crew aren’t going to come to your home and whisk you away to a secluded ranch.

You’ve got to go to work. You’ve got to deal with your finances, spouses, friends, family, advertising, fast food and temptation around every single corner.

And on top of all that. you have to sort through a shit-ton of nutritional data that constantly contradicts itself. Not to mention the barrage of bibble-babble that makes its way out of Dr. Oz’s piehole — constantly being bought and sold to the highest bidder.

And the last thing you should have to deal with is this bullshit notion that you should be ashamed of yourself. That you should be taxed. That you should be hung from the highest fucking lamppost, and all because you’re what? Because you’re fat?

Fuck that.

Don’t hate your body.

Love it.

Love it with every ounce of might you have left. Love it in spite of it all. Love it because you can.

Dignity is not reserved for the gentry.

Bask in it.

Don’t wait until 2081.

14 thoughts on “The Fattest Province

  1. Wow. A whole lot of rationalizations going on in that article. Considering the link between obesity and cancer, this article is not doing anyone any good. We have to slim down as a country and saying we should be happy with our overweight bodies borders on the criminal. It’s resigning and giving up on something that threatens our healthcare system and our families.

    We need to aim higher and try harder. Not make excuses. We are facing a tsunami of obesity related cancers in the future and all the affirmations won’t help you as you’re been slid into an MRI or sitting down as chemicals are pumped into your body. If you spent any time at a cancer clinic and seen how 90% of the patients are obese, you wouldn’t dare spout this tired old song and dance routine of excuses and resignation.

    It’s not an issue of saving someone’s feelings…it’s about saving our lives and our medicare system.

    1. While I do appreciate you taking the time out of your day to comment. But, I can assure you it’s not a song and dance. And I’m not, for a minute, suggesting that obesity doesn’t lead to greater and greater health problems — as does smoking, air pollution, big industry, etc. I’m not sure where you’re getting your statistics from, but 90% seems a little high to me, but then again — as I’ve stated — I’m not an expert. I’m sorry that you feel that suggesting that people be happy with their bodies is criminal — I, quite honestly, couldn’t disagree more. I think it’s a pretty good first step. Judging by your tone, I don’t think I’m about to sway you of anything. So, thanks for reading.

    2. Congrats on the award, and for writing such a wonderful post that explains so many of the factors that contribute to weight gain. Your honest and insightful posts are inspiring to read.
      To the above commenter, how could explaining the various contributing factors and encouraging people to love themselves border on anything that could remotely be considered criminal? With the increased focus on mental health in our province, I find it shocking that someone could believe that treating people poorly and promoting low self-esteem could ever lead to positive change. People need support and care from others and to focus on building mental wellness and a positive self regard in order to even begin the first steps toward making positive changes.
      Telling people that they do not have a right to love themselves, or that considering the factors that contribute to the thing that you see as a problem, does nothing but contribute to the problem you think you are fighting.
      “It’s not an issue of saving someone’s feelings…it’s about saving our lives and our medicare system”
      When has hurting someone’s feelings and insisting that they do not deserve to be happy ever inspired any kind of positive change? Whose life exactly do you think you are saving by figuratively spitting all over them? It is certainly not the people who are struggling with weight, self-image, eating disorders, food addiction, depression, or any of the other factors that contribute to your perceived problem.

  2. A current news item claims about 2/3 of AMERICANS are obese, so the issue goes well beyond our province. Instead of pointing the finger, let’s look at the multiplicity of factors (cultural, psychological, nutritional) that contribute to weight gain to get a more holistic understanding.

  3. Well, Wallace, since I have the requisite experience let me weigh in. My bowel cancer wasn’t due to obesity, though I have that in spades. It was Probably a variant of Lynch Syndrome, a genetic factor.

    Obesity is often mentioned as a risk factor for cancer, but so is age – in fact age is the number two factor, right after genetics, according to my doctors. They were not, by the way, any less surprised I had cancer at 33 on account of my weight. Indeed, they repeatedly told me how unexpected it was.

    So maybe give it up.

    Dave, you are the coolest. Thanks for the post.

  4. Dave, I have followed you since I was fortunate enough to hear you on CBC radio. All of your articles have been so insightful and this latest one is so bang on!!!
    I struggled with weight for decades. I started dieting at 13 when my mom and doctor thought I needed to lose 10lbs and put me on diet pills. I was 5’5″ and weighed 140lbs. And there started the cycle. Up until then I had no idea what dieting was or that I wasn’t perfect just the way I was!
    You are so right when you say acceptance is the key to a healthy lifestyle. You and your body have to be on the same team. You can’t be on opposite sides. You must treat yourself with kindness, respect and love! Once you do that, the rest will follow.
    Remember that your weight does not and should not define you, for you are so much more than a number on the scale.
    Thank you for sharing your journey, your brutal honesty is refreshing and empowering.

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