June 03, 2015

Lazy. Ignorant. Irresponsible. Disgusting. Most of us have heard or read these terms directed toward overweight or obese individuals. Or worse, we've thought or said something like that ourselves.

A year ago, I was 50 pounds heavier than I am today. I wasn't very active. I would get winded climbing the four flights of stairs to our offices. (I still do, to be honest.) Walking a mile on the treadmill was fine, but walking two hours for fun? No way. I parked as close to stores as possible. Does this mean I was lazy? Well, no, not in my mind. I just wasn't used to being active. I was, for lack of a better term, out of practice.

Until last year, I ate without giving any thought to calories. I wasn't eating nonstop or dropping by McDonald's on my way to Chick-Fil-A. I just cooked what sounded good, ate out a good bit, and got by with what I had in my pantry. Does that mean I'm ignorant? Well, maybe, but I wasn't overeating. I just wasn't eating well or right.

I've struggled with a weight problem my entire life. I don't remember not being heavy or overweight. This is a combination of poor food education and a lack of activity as a child and teenager. Does this make my parents irresponsible? Not in my book. They were not equipped to teach me—or themselves—how to make good food choices. We ate what they knew how to cook. I made the same food choices they made, and they made the same food choices their parents made. It's not their failure. It's just a broken cycle.

Early in high school, wanting to lose weight, I sought advice from my doctor. Instead of referring me to an RD or a healthy-eating coach, he gave me pills. Weight-loss pills. Please understand that I believe these pills serve a very important and real purpose for some people. But I didn't need pills. I needed help. I needed guidance. My family needed guidance to help me (and all of us) make better choices.

This guidance wouldn't come until much later in life. I've spent most of my entire professional career working in an environment that promotes healthy eating and healthy living. This may come as a shock to people when you understand my history. Yes, I'm an overweight editor working at the country's largest healthy-cooking and lifestyle magazine. Does this mean I'm in the wrong job? I don't think so. I think I'm in the perfect job. I've lived through all the diets, misconceptions, untruths, and pyramid schemes of weight loss. I have had every single one of the weight-loss questions our readers have. If anything, my experiences help me be a better editor.

So whose fault is it that I'm overweight? No one's. My weight problems are the result of a system that just didn't know how to help me or was afraid to address my problem. It's a system that still exists today.

Fortunately, our country's food revolution is shifting the focus toward quality and proactive lifestyle changes. Our fixation on cheap, easy eats is slowly (and I do mean slowly) being replaced by a drive to create, experiment, and push the limits with healthy, wholesome foods. Hopefully with that, the young girls who go to their doctor for help will find the help they need comes in the form of greens, grains, and great food, not pills.

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