Overweight People Don't Need Government Sponsored "Fat Camp"!by Angela Smith, HEAL National Coordinator
I am overweight and have struggled with weight issues for most of my life. I had control of my weight when I was in my early 20s. But, I began taking hormonal birth control (Depo Provera) in my mid-20s and I gained nearly 90 pounds in 6 months without having changed my diet (vegetarian) or my exercise regimen (walked 2 miles every morning). Not only did the hormonal birth control cause weight gain, fatigue, breakouts, and abnormal hair-growth, it also stunted my sex drive.
Many people with PTSD and trauma, particularly victims of sexual assault and abuse (like myself), often struggle with weight because our bodies want protection and in our society no one supposedly wants to get physical with fat people. So, we use weight as a coping mechanism. "Intensive Behavior Modification Therapy" is not going to help those of us struggling with our weight because it focuses solely on changing behavior, often through confrontation (aka "attack therapy"), ridicule, and aversive/abusive therapies instead of addressing the trauma or underlying causes of weight problems. Some of which include adverse reactions to behavior modifying/psychotropic drugs.
I'm currently losing weight and have lost 20 pounds this year. Here's how I am doing it:
1. I figured out what my goal weight should be for my age and height. According to the CDC, my goal weight/healthy weight is between 122-164 pounds. (Yes, I currently am considered "obese" by the CDC standards and NO, I don't want to be put in fat camp or any other behavior modification program using Social Security dollars as current legislation is seeking to do. More on this below.) You can figure your "healthy weight" here: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/ (Click on BMI Calculator link and enter your current height and weight, it will tell you if you are "obese" and what your "healthy weight" range should be.)
2. I set my goal weight at 130 pounds and wanted to know the number of calories that are needed to maintain a weight of 130 along with the average amount of activity I do per day. So, I found the following site: http://caloriecontrol.org/healthy-weight-tool-kit/assessment-calculator/ and entered in my sex, height, goal weight, and activity level and hit "Re-Assess My Goal" button. This gave me the number of calories I needed to maintain my goal weight each day. I set my activity level to "sedentary" and depending on my level of activity on any given day I figure out how many calories I burn to decide how much over the maintenance calories I can eat on that day or at the end of the week.
3. So, to figure out how many calories are burned by a given activity (i.e. 30 minutes of yard work), you can use www.google.com and enter in "How many calories do I burn doing 30 minutes of yard work or 1 hour of yard work?" and you may find this page: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/calorie-burners#1 or a number of other pages. And, the same can be done for any activity. If I do 1 hour of yard work, I can guess at about 200-400 calories were burned, and if I need to lose weight, give it the lower end of 200 to minimize any chance of "over-eating". Given my goal weight and my activity level, I should only be eating about 1750 calories per day. I do my best to keep it at 1500 during the week depending on my activity level. And, yes, this is different than the average 2000-2500 you read on most food packages. But, those food packages are not based on you, your lifestyle, or your weight. They are national averages boosted, in my opinion, to keep people fat.
I didn't learn how to calculate my healthy weight, healthy calorie intake, or healthy activity level in any primary or secondary school courses, including Health classes. I was never taught how simple it is to manage my weight or how to understand metabolism, activity rates, and caloric intake. And, even when I've joined weight management groups and organizations (haven't been part of any for many years), they never provided me with this simple information on how to figure it out. No doctor I've visited ever sat down with me and looked at this issue simply and no nutritionist explained it to me in simple terms because they all wanted me to keep paying them to tell me what to do instead of how to figure out how to take care of myself. Behavior modification programs do not help, they make things worse. I know that for a fact too because I am a survivor of abusive/aversive behavior modification and I would never want anyone to go through that, especially not for being overweight when compassion, love, time, and basic health information and tools can address the issue effectively.
This is why I do not support HR 1953, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2017, which will divert Social Security funds to paying for overweight people to be placed in "intensive behavior modification therapy". That is abuse. It is awful. And, no one should support it, period. If you agree, please join me by signing the petition at: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/oppose-hr-1953-treat?source=c.tw&r_by=9710095