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Fat is not just a Feminist Issue

25th Mar 2011
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I am still carrying the excess baggage of 3 stones and 2lbs (in old money). I am FAT. I dont like it. There are so many worse things happening in the world yet to my selfish mind the fact I am fat is the most important issue.

Being fat adversely affects every area of my life career, personal relationships, confidence, self image.

Why am I fat? It is because I eat more than my body needs. This is a simple and a factual answer. As with most areas of life things are never that simple. There is always far more beneath the surface. I will try and examine what this is in my case. 

Like most people I am trying to be a success in business and personal life. In trying to achieve this, they will always be disappointmements and failures. I suppose food is my coping strategy for these failures and disappointments. I rather scuff  a cake than go for walk when under stress. That cake will give me immediate pleasure. Of course the failure will still be there till I decide to do something about it. So I  scoff another cake to think about what I should do. I think you get the point I am making here- I use food for both pleasure and pain. When I achieve something I will go for a heavy meal to celebrate.

We are the fatest nation in Europe. Why? Is it because the pace of our lives. We all want to do well, have nice house, nice car, good looking partner, lovely children etc. Food is our coping strategy for our failures?

I do not think simple solutions such as eat less and move more work. There is something a lot more deeper here. I think any approach must be addressed at the emotional level rather than just the factual level. For this reason diets only do not work. Firstly there needs to be a far deeper understanding of why people eat more before coming up with any solutions. We tend to move into fix it mode before giving ourselves time to understand the root of the problems.

I hope through this blog I will begin to understand why I am fat.


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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
28th Mar 2011 09:16

Fascinating subject

Thanks for raising it... You struck a chord with your original Fat Accountant Any Answers post with more than 30 responses just after the stress peak of Self Assessment seaon. The follow-up article summarising some of the more practical suggestions also got a good reaction from members.

You've obviously raised an important topic here, and it's interesting that you've already moved on to the social and psychological underpinnings of obesity - that is where things get really complex!

To help keep things rolling, I thought I would offer a bit from my experiences. Overeating and weight gain came quite late to me - I was ridiculously thin as a kid, but from 30 onwards, my waistline measurement (in inches) has threatened to keep up with my age as my sedentary lifestyle took its toll. I work from home and while there are great advantages, I can often go for days on end when the only exercise I get is to walk down to the kitchen for another biscuit or piece of toast - something that happens more when I'm stressed than when I'm not.

My mother was a habitual dieter and most of fads she went through didn't work until she joined weightwatchers. She was a highly competitive person, so that helped to motivate her and I think she enjoyed the social side of it. As we've seen in the Any Answers thread, accountancy's "you can't manage what you don't measure" mantra fits quite well with the calorie-counting/weekly weigh-in WW approach.

Mum also made swimming a regular part of her weekly schedule (2-3 times a week), which helped a lot. The swims became part of her reward system - she enjoyed the visit to town, the time on her own and usually went home feeling positive and creative after a post-swim cappucino in the local cafe.

Her weight loss (and subsequent stability) came when she found a way to balance her lifestyle; unfortunately that only really happened after she retired.

Most of us on AccountingWEB are still in jobs that can be quite time-consuming and stressful, which will make it difficult to break self-defeating psychological patterns. I found that Friday evening yoga classes (I live in Brighton, where they're almost compulsory) were a great altnerative to going to the pub, and the breathing and meditative techniques I learned can slow down the stressful impulses. Gentle yoga classes don't "get you fit", but do help improve posture and flexibility. I also try to work pre-lunch swims into my work routine - and when it gets hard to fit them in, they definitely feel like a reward mechanism.

I wouldn't say I've succeeded in losing weight like this yet - it's like clinging onto the thin ledge of semi-fitness and not getting worse. But the secret I'd pass on is that I've found a few things that work for me and they're more to do with slight adjustments to my daily routines that I enjoy and can sustain for the long-term. I also don't feel guilty if I stray off the path and have a big meal out or miss a swim or two; instead I decide that I "owe" myself an extra hour break away from the desk to go for a compensatory swim.

Keep up the blog - and good luck. I'll be interested to see how you get on and whether you come up with any lifestyle-changing ideas that work for you.


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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
28th Mar 2011 15:45

Back from a swim...

Inspired by your post, I took off at 12.30pm for a swim today and feel much better for it.

I also remembered that this subject is so important to our US colleagues that they've got an entire section devoted to Workplace Fitness on I hope you find some good ideas and inspiration there.

Finally, will you be going a bit Bridget Jones on us and keeping us informed of your progress (and how many glasses of Chardonnay you consume)? I look forward to seeing what happens.

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By FirstTab
28th Mar 2011 22:28

Thanks John, I found both your comments really supportive and encouraging. It is helpful to know more about you.

I was not able to respond earlier since it was such a hectic day.

Of course I will write my feelings and experience about my weight. It helps me. I just got back from a long walk. I listened to one of my audio books on my walk. I undertstand the great Stephen Fry did this and lost a lot of weight.

Please keep up your activity as well!


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