I think on some level none of us really believe that we are going to die. This certainly isn’t my uppermost thought when I shovel another heavily-laden spoonful of Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream into my big fat gob; the connection between this unnecessary heap of calories and a possibly early expiry date is somehow lost or denied to the point of non-existence, despite the many warnings we all receive via the papers or social media. I can read an article about how being obese shaves years off your life, or how a significant proportion of deaths are a direct consequence of a poor diet, but somehow it doesn’t compute. It washes over me.
I know the articles and information therein are gained from solid research, and I also know that I am one of the obese specimens they are talking directly to. I believe in science, and I understand it (apart from physics which makes no shitting sense), but I guess I just don’t think it will happen to me. But why wouldn’t it happen to me? I am just a normal person after all, despite the morbid obesity that marks me out as a ticking bomb waiting to explode. At 34 I might be in sight of the top of that hill, but I guess I figure it’s still a long way down again.
I’ve written previously about my problem with emotional eating, and relying on food in unhealthy ways, but really you would think that the thought of dying early due to the excessive amount of chicken nugget in my arteries would have some impact and make me change my ways. But not so, so far anyway. Of course I want to live to a good age and see my children grow up (mostly so I can gloat about karma when they are dealt little shits of their own to deal with); I would also quite like to find out how Brexit does finally pan out. So what is it about these warnings that doesn’t seem real enough to make me, and perhaps you reading this, stop, take notice and change?
I’m sure this is probably an actual term in some field of thinking (if not then I am claiming it now very smugly), but in thinking about all this I have come to the conclusion that my mind feels invincible despite all the known bodily limitations. Obesity and early death feels like something which could possibly maybe at some point in the future affect me, but my mind could not possibly succumb to such an undignified end. This is how we all think subconsciously I would wager, that nothing can actually end us and that we are just let down by our physical entrapment. Not meaning to get too philosophical here, but I guess I feel that whilst my mind is fine (although that is debatable given my sporadic depressive episodes and reliance on antidepressants) nothing can touch me.
That’s just one theory of course. My other guess is that whilst I can see my overhang getting nearer and nearer to the floor, and my thighs not touching as much as smothering each other, the happenings inside my body are invisible. This is going to sound really stupid but I recently saved a picture to my phone showing the fat within a normal person’s body compared to that encasing the organs of an obese person. It shows in vivid detail what is most likely happening inside me after years of gorging on fatty and sugary foods. My intention when I saved the picture was probably to take a look at it before deciding whether to eat that third piece of cake or when deciding what constitutes a healthy portion of food, but of course I’ve not looked at it since.
But how can I actually die from obesity?
That’s the question I think runs silently though the heads of us obese ones, one which we refuse to even acknowledge let alone attempt to answer. Perhaps instead of showing the waddling lady whose copious backside accompanies any news headline around obesity we should see a video of how excess fat in the body can actually lead to death. We should see the fat building up and clogging our arteries, the excess glucose turning our brains to mush, and the liver blackening and bursting our veins. But who am I kidding? Of course I’ve seen these types of videos; I’ve even watched an obese body being dissected and seen the pale yellow gleam of excess fat swaddling an over-sized heart.
None of what I see matters though as of course I can’t possibly look like this inside and of course even if I do it won’t kill me, not for a long time anyway. I still have all the time in the world to gorge on cheesecake and still see my children grow up. I have time, until I don’t.
I’d love to know others’ ideas on what makes us ignore these images and warnings about obesity and death, as I can’t quite fathom how I, and others, can be quite so stupid really. Yes, food tastes nice and some particular foods taste like heaven (which we all have a different idea of), but we have logical brains which are being told over and over again that this one precious life could be over prematurely, just because we can’t stop eating ice cream until we feel sick or necking chocolate until it starts coming back up. Surely life is worth more than that right?