Everyone knows how to lose weight: eat less, eat healthy and be more active.

Everyone would love to be a normal weight.

So why are so many of us fat? And why don’t we just stop overeating?

If you actually wanted to create a population of overweight people, you’d need to establish the optimum conditions for that to happen. These might include:

  • Over-producing food and selling it cheaply
  • Devising ways to make it easier for people to become inactive
  • Developing an effective marketing strategy that persuades people to eat more than they need

Of course, there are psychological-emotional reasons why people are overweight, but the problem isn’t helped by the fact that we live in an age in which a sedentary lifestyle is the norm. Therefore, we have to make a conscious effort to be active, while in the past, being active was simply a way of life.

While we aren’t benefiting from the commercially-driven desire of the food and retail industries to make as much money as possible—by over-producing and over-selling—their marketing strategies are very successful and are working well for them. This, in turn, creates profitable opportunities for the health care, exercise and diet industries, including an abundance of advice-giving weight loss experts!

There are so many businesses making money off of fat people, and it’s those businesses that should be extremely grateful to those who are overweight. It really is in their best interests to keep things that way. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that some of the mass food-producing and weight loss companies are owned by the very same people.

Bad habits can be hard to change

Young woman eating popcorn in bed - Making fatAll of us have developed learned patterns of behaviour, some healthy and some not so healthy. It can be so hard to change ‘bad’ habits, even when we become conscious of them and try to stop.

At work a couple of weeks ago, the fridge broke down and a temporary mini-fridge was placed in another part of the kitchen. Every day, when making themselves a hot drink out of habit and on automatic pilot, people continued to open the old, broken-down fridge for milk, only to find it empty!

Habits are difficult to change, because they become ingrained and we follow them without thinking. Commit to brushing your teeth with the opposite hand for a week, and see how often you remember to do that.

We no longer eat to survive, and instead, many people eat for emotional comfort, out of habit and because we’re responding to marketing strategies. Many are reacting and adapting to an unhealthy and uncaring profit-first environment in dysfunctional ways.

The abundance of food, as well as the persuasion and temptation to eat for pleasure and emotional satisfaction, is everywhere. Not everyone has the determination and self-discipline required to consistently make the best decisions, especially when we’re taken in by those who want us to buy, and even more so when we don’t feel good about ourselves or just want to be happier. We all develop ‘good’ and ‘bad’ habits that become our normal behaviour.

Nevertheless, despite an unsupportive environment, doing something we shouldn’t do is either a conscious, justified mental choice or unconscious, habitual behaviour. There are always reasons why we do what we do. There are costs and benefits to all our behaviours, and sometimes poor decisions are made that result in the costs outweighing any benefits.

Although many, many people are now overeating, no one wants to be fat. It’s all too easy for a person of healthy weight to be critical of fat people, but I also wonder what they do that they shouldn’t do.

It’s not all about willpower

There was a time when slim was normal, and now fat is becoming so, and that can’t be explained by concluding that a large population of people have lost their willpower and self-discipline.

Generations ago, our great-grandparents would’ve had to put a lot of effort into becoming inactive and overweight, but nowadays, it’s the other way around, as it’s so easy to do that. Now it has become necessary and essential to swim against the tide by making a conscious effort to maintain a healthy weight. There was a time when that was just the result of a normal way of life.

It’s becoming normal to be fat, and abnormal to be at a healthy weight, and those in good shape are consciously taking positive action to maintain it.

It’s becoming normal to be fat, and abnormal to be at a healthy weight, and those in good shape are consciously taking positive action to maintain it. Some people are better than others at taking care of themselves, and are more able to consciously develop a healthy lifestyle, while some struggle with that. The self-righteous healthy brigade might think that the “fatties” just don’t try hard enough, but it’s easier for some than others.

I remember hearing Eckhart Tolle say something like, if you’d had the exact same life experiences as someone you consider to be less conscious than you, then you’d have exactly the same level of consciousness as them. I’d add that if you thought in the same way and felt the same emotions as any overweight person you happen to see, then you’d be just like them and vice versa.

So did you choose your physical, intellectual and emotional genetic make-up? Did you choose your individual identity and personality? Did you choose to think the way you do, to feel what you feel, to respond to your life experiences in the way you have? If you think it’s all a matter of personal choice, ask yourself if that’s really true, or is it just what you think is true? Thinking can’t be trusted, because it always thinks it is right.

We’re travelling on a road on which we don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know what’s next and we don’t even know who we are or why we do what we do. We don’t even know why we think what we think!

Overweight people are obviously struggling to make permanent changes by first getting the weight off and then maintaining a sustainable healthy lifestyle. In contrast, slim people must be doing something right. For them, maintaining a healthy lifestyle might not be so very difficult because of a) the way they think about themselves and their relationship with food, b) the reasons behind their level of commitment and motivation and c) the habits they’ve formed. For some, being at a healthy weight has become (or always was) their way of life, but for others, it’s about change, and that can be tough.

When it comes to any addictive, habitual harmful behaviour, just saying “Stop it!” or “You should know better,” or “You should try harder” doesn’t work, not in the long-term, nor does forcing or psychologically berating yourself into taking a certain course of action. Usually applying willpower alone doesn’t last.

Fat people don’t want to be fat and look the way they do, nor do they want to experience mobility problems and poor health that may eventually lead to an early death. Who wants that?

No one is happy about being overweight and no one feels good about it. But it’s true that in most cases, when we’re really motivated and really want something, we can achieve it. So perhaps, in one way or another, some struggle with these issues because deep down, they don’t care about themselves enough (although they want to). Perhaps they don’t want to reach a healthy weight badly enough, or they’ve yo-yo dieted and now feel defeated and despondent.

Some people have bigger mountains to climb than others. For some, their reasons for overeating may be more compelling than the reasons why they should stop, and that’s not their fault.

A toxic and unhealthy living environment

A&W drive thru - Making FatWhatever the personal reasons for someone’s obesity, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that the environment we live in is toxic, due to promoting and encouraging sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles. To change and stay healthy requires a conscious intention and commitment to consistently responding to this environment in alternative, more active and healthy ways. Evidently, many people haven’t done that.

The main reason why obesity has become such an epidemic has to be environmental. People haven’t changed, for psychologically, we’re of the same make-up as previous generations, but our environment has changed massively. Many haven’t adapted to a changing world that has created the conditions of inactivity and overeating.

Those of a healthy weight have managed to respond to an environment of intentionally overproduced, widely available and well-advertised inexpensive food—which is causing a variety of health problems—by finding their own way to stop themselves from falling into the “fat trap,” but many people have not.

We’re no different from past generations who lived in a world where there wasn’t such an abundance of food and lifestyles were more active. Those with obesity issues haven’t been able to successfully adapt to how our world has changed in terms of food availability, marketing strategies and a reduced need for physical activity.

Alongside this, many are experiencing an increased level of stress from living in such a fast-paced, pressured world, where we’ve been indoctrinated to expect more from life than what we have and conditioned to think that our lives should somehow be better than they are.

For many decades now, commercialism has led us down the path of dissatisfaction with our lot, and has then persuaded us to buy our way out of it, which is supposed to make us happier. We’re told that to be happy, we need to buy whatever it is they’re selling.

Some of us bought new cars, or whatever it was they convinced us we desired and must have, but which we didn’t really need. Along the way, we were all offered far too much food, as advertisers and marketers tried to convince us that this would somehow make us feel better about ourselves, and many of us didn’t say no. Some overate and bought the car!

Now the exercise and diet industry wants to help, at a price, and the obese need medical treatments and health care. The fat cats of the food, diet and health care industries seem to be making so much money, in so many different ways, off the bellies of fat people.

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