Obesity is a serious issue.
It will kill you.
Maybe not in one day.
But drawn out over years–it kills.
Everyone knows that this is a complex issue.
It’s not just a matter of swapping out your ice cream for frozen yogurt.
Well maybe it could be that simple.
If we were robots.
Or computer programs.
Or this was the Matrix where you could just download a new program into your brain and wake up instantly knowing kung fu.
But this is real life.
Not the matrix.
And in the real world, humans are complex individuals.
Anyone taking Psych 101 knows that we are not one dimensional paper dolls.
We’re made up of more than just circuitry and wires.
We’re a bit more complicated than that.
Maslow knew it when he talked about our hiearchy of needs.
How we’re all moving up the pyramid striving to reach our potential.
When it comes to someone fighting obesity, there are many complex issues taking place.
You don’t look at someone who is 100 pounds or 200 pounds overweight and say “Did you know double stuffed Oreos have more calories than an apple? Try switching them out and see what happens”.
A month later, this obese person comes back to you 20 pounds thinner.
“Thanks! I had no idea! Wow that was so…SIMPLE!”
Does anyone out there think that’s going to happen?
Now maybe if you were talking to your friend who was 10 pounds overweight and she really didn’t know that drowning her salad in bleu cheese dressing was the culprit of those extra pounds.
But an obese person?
Someone who clearly has a serious issue with overeating?
You don’t get obese because you didn’t realize that broccoli is healthier for you than brownies.
The truth is that like many things in life–obesity is a a complex issue.
It has many factors.
Some of it is behavioral. Maybe even most of it.
But some of it is physical. Biological. Genetic even.
Some is learned. Some is environmental.
And then there are all the things going on inside your body.
The list goes on and on.
Would you look at someone who is clinically depressed and say…”Cheer up! You look ugly with those tears streaming down your face. I’m going to shoot pom poms at you until you get happy! Oh yeah–and I’m going to call you mean names too like party pooper and Debby Downer and Crybaby! That ought to shame you right out of that depression!”
I think most people understand that there are a few other things happening in the life of someone suffering from depression.
For example, the situation they are in.
Did someone die?
Did they lose their job?
What is causing them to be depressed?
Are their hormones running rampant?
Are they affected by the weather?
Do they have a mood disorder?
Did something happen in their past?
You see it’s a complex issue. Like most things in life.
Take your car for instance. It’s making noises. Lights are going on. Smoke is coming out of the hood.
There’s a good chance that a seasoned professional might know what is wrong just from looking at it.
My experience, however, is that even the best mechanic will hook it up to a diagnostic tool to see what exactly is going on.
I mean you can look at a car and guess but is every car exactly the same?
Are they all alike?
Of course not.
Neither are people.
We’re not all clones of each other walking around with the same backgrounds, same life experiences, same DNA.
We are individually packaged complex people walking around this world trying to climb our way up Maslow’s pyramid to the best version of ourself we can!
But it’s hard.
Why oh why is it so hard?
I know Oreos aren’t good for me.
I know Snickers are not a good source of protein!
And yet this simple fact alone does not keep me from eating them.
There is something else going on inside of us.
A war if you will.
A battle between Oreos and apples.
Between sitting on the couch and walking around the block.
Between wanting to do it versus actually doing it.
It’s a war that has been going on for ages.
Check out what Paul has to say about it.
And this is coming from someone who is the Rocky Balboa of Bible times.
What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. Romans 7:16
You see, it’s not always about lack of information.
Sometimes we know exactly what we need to do but there is something much deeper within keeping us from doing it.
We can’t just assume that more information is the cure.
Some things are more complex than that.
Everyone I know has some childhood memory they’d rather forget.
Yesterday, my youngest daughter came home from school in tears.
She said she’d been sitting on the floor during circle time and apparently her underwear was showing out the back of her jeans.
Another child took it upon herself to let everyone else know—except my daughter.
Pointing, whispering, snickering.
I’m sure you can imagine this isn’t going to be her favorite memory of the week.
We all have those memories, don’t we?
Some memory of being a child and having someone point at you, whisper and snicker about something they didn’t like.
You weren’t cool enough.
Your underwear was showing.
You failed to zip your fly.
Maybe you were pulled out of class because you couldn’t read as well as the other kids.
Or maybe your foot turned in when you walked.
Maybe you had to wear glasses or braces or you had acne.
The list goes on and on.
Did teasing help? Shaming you?
Was that a positive experience in your childhood?
Think about where every kid dreams to go!
The place where your dreams come true.
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from.
It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor.
Skinny or overweight .
When you’re there—your dreams come true!
Which is why I found this story about Disney Epcot’s new exhibit, Habit Heroes, geared towards tackling childhood obesity a bit baffling.
It’s supposed to be an interactive exhibit where kids defeat a morbidly obese character named “Lead Bottom”.
Yes I just said that–LEAD BOTTOM.
How do you defeat him?
By shooting broccoli at him of course!
Because we all know that obesity is killing our nation.
And broccoli will defeat it.
Because it’s that simple.
Or we could just get Morpheus to download a new program to our brain the way he did for Neo in the Matrix.
We could wake up tomorrow instantly cured of all the complex issues that made us obese in the first place.
And as a bonus we could do Kung Fu.
I’m sorry to say that the issue is much more involved than that.
Much more layered.
That doesn’t mean you can’t beat it.
That there isn’t hope.
Trust me—there is.
If I can lose 130 pounds in 7 months then there is hope.
But it isn’t in shaming the obese by calling them “Lead Bottom” or ignoring all the other issues that play into it.
I haven’t been to this exhibit so I don’t know about it firsthand.
I’m sure it has good intentions.
I doubt that this exhibit is all good or all bad.
I’m sure much of it is even fun.
I just know one thing–an obese child will go to Disney World this year and see an exhibit of someone resembling their shape called “Lead Bottom”.
That won’t be one of their favorite childhood memories.