Painful Truth: I’m (Currently) Obese

This is painful to confess, but by every measure, I am more than just overweight. Ten years ago I was in fantastic shape; today I’m just a shape. It’s hard to acknowledge that I’ve slipped so far since the days when my hobbies were racing motocross and mountain bikes, but I have. In 2015 alone, I quickly added 30 pounds, hitting a weight that’s 50% higher than at my fittest. Approaching that number should have been a huge reality check, but wasn’t.

I’m not just heavy, I am obese. Surprising and easy to deny because I don’t really look it. I am genetically predisposed to carry quite a bit of muscle and I accumulate fat in my back more than my belly. That means I can be pretty heavy and still look decent in jeans and a t-shirt. Maybe a bit stocky, maybe a little chubby, but not obese.

At the start of the summer, before putting lifting on hold to focus on training for a half-marathon, I was quickly closing in on my goal of bench pressing my weight and squatting and deadlifting 1.5 times my weight. For reps. Those numbers aren’t impressive to powerlifters or college athletes, but aren’t too shabby in the middle age office drone category. A month later I ran a personal best of nine miles at a 10:07 pace. I won’t pretend that’s fast, but it’s something. Sure, I’m not in shape, but I can’t do all that and be obese, can I?

Sadly, yes. Let’s look at the numbers.

  • A BMI of 30 is considered obese. At my peak weight, my BMI was 34.7. Today I’m at 31.5. Hmmm. Because BMI doesn’t differentiate between weight from muscle and fat, it isn’t necessarily a great measure if you’re muscular. But, I’m not really borderline, am I?
  • Twenty-six percent body fat is considered obese. Me, I’m at a not-so-trim 30%. Of course, that’s measured with a 16-year old bathroom scale. Hardly scientific and the scale is probably better at consistent measures than outright accuracy, but it could be 4% off and I’d still be on the wrong side of heavy.
  • A waist circumference of 40 inches is considered obese. After losing weight and inches, I’m right at 40. Oh, and a waist-hip ratio of 0.9 or more is considered obese. Let’s see, 40/41= <gulp> 0.975.

Yeah, I’ve been lying to myself for a while. If I only looked at one of those measures, I could argue I was merely heavy. Look at all four together and there’s no fudging it. I’m currently obese.

My weight moves me to the front of the line for a whole host of health issues. In fact, on top of a long list including diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, breathing problems, and depression, I’m in the express line for a higher risk of death BY ALL CAUSES. My obesity is like tipping the bouncer to get VIP access to Club Death.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is I’m focused. I have goals, a plan, motivation, and I’m excited about my results over the past 30 days. I’ve dropped weight before and can do it again (the trick will be keeping it off).

In the meantime, I’m really enjoying the process.

9 thoughts on “Painful Truth: I’m (Currently) Obese

  1. I think it’s cool that you’ve broken down the numbers on what makes you obese. I’m certainly obese and have been working very hard to lose weight. Got a ways to go but I’m down 84 pounds so far! Thanks!!

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      1. I’ve been sticking to a 1400 calorie diet and using Fitbit to increase my steps. Working in veggies more has been helpful too because it fills me up without adding a ton of calories.

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      2. Mostly cleaning up my diet. I tend to be all or nothing and don’t do moderation well. Cutting back doesn’t really seem to work for me, so I cut out. Cut out most sugar, all grains, all dairy, all alcohol, but with a cheat day once a week. I keep protein at 100 or so grams a day (trying to get higher) and calories below 2000, but probably average 1600. Weirdly, tracking everything on a spreadsheet – whether I did it or didn’t – works really well for me. Keep up the great work!

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  2. I have read that one of the most important steps in making a big change in our lives is to admit that there is a problem. I really like how you owned up to it, and even had the bravery to post about it for the public to see!

    I have been obese for years, and I’m excited to make lasting changes in my own health.

    I lot of people use excuses, such as lack of time. One of my first posts on my blog directly addressed that issue: https://fitnessbyjacob.com/2017/05/24/college-work-relationships-and-health-who-has-the-time/

    Our personal health is the most important aspects of our life, unless we want to have extreme complications later in life, or even die young..

    I love your post! Keep up the great work!

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