On some paleo and low-carb blogs, you find statements such as “you’re not fat and avoid exercise because you eat too much, you eat too much and avoid exercise because you’re fat.” I understand the point. Once you become metabolically damaged, eating an industrial Western diet, and your body is resistant to insulin and leptin, then your body defends the homeostasis of a given level of weight. It will make you incredibly hungry, give you cravings, make you tired, and reduce your basal metabolism as needed to prevent weight loss. There is no reason to blame an overweight person for being overweight, since the same behavior on the part of someone else with different genetics could well produce a skinny person.
Taken too far, however, it suggests that there is nothing that an unhealthy or overweight person can do. If I am overweight and I have no control over that, then it’s not my fault, but I am also just doomed. I won’t be able to change my lifestyle or diet, I won’t be able to get healthy, and I won’t lose weight through any voluntary action. Short of being locked away and placed on a semi-starvation diet, or other coercive intervention by others, there is no way to change. I might be able to choose not to eat a particular doughnut, but I won’t be able to make aggregate decisions about eating and activity that can change my level of overweight or health.
That’s simply not the case, as many people who have made lasting changes in their own eating, exercise, and lifestyle have demonstrated. It is possible to take responsibility for your own health, although that is harder for some people than others. In later posts I’ll discuss some of the factors related to self-management of behavior related to health and wellness.