Hello, My Name is Bill, I am an Obese Person.
I contend that if Obesity is in fact a disease – and I believe it is – then you are not free of the disease simply because you have successfully dealt with the symptoms of the illness. You may have found a way to overcome the illness and have lost weight, but as with all other addictive illnesses, you likely require continual management of your lifestyle to maintain your control.
If you’ve ever entered a casino, you’ve probably seen a sign that says: “Gamble Responsibly. Gambling can become an addiction. If you believe you have a gambling problem call our hotline for help.”
You have probably noted that when a person successfully overcomes the addiction of drinking alcohol, they still recognize the fact that they are an alcoholic – just one with control over their symptoms. They aren’t ex-alcoholics or cured alcoholics – in fact, some refer to themselves as recovered or recovering alcoholics.
Why is it that with so many addictive personal disorders, such as gambling and alcohol, we recognize that people are never free of their disease, even when they have successfully learned how to manage their symptoms? Why don’t we extend that same level of understanding to obesity?
I’ve yet, when entering a buffet line at a restaurant, seen a sign that said: “Overeating is harmful to your health. If you believe you have an Overeating problem, call our helpline.”
I think that those of us that have lost a significant amount of weight and have actually moved from the “obese” weight category to the “normal” weight category, should stop referring to ourselves as ‘formerly obese’ and instead say that are obese individuals who have learned to manage our obesity.
First, I think it is far more accurate to represent our situation this way (regain being proof we are not cured), and second, it prevents contrasting judgments against people who have honestly tried but have not achieved similar success for whatever reason.
We in the WLS community are all obese, and doing the best we can to learn to manage our disease. Never give up the fight and always give grace to yourself and to others who confront obesity.