Since starting this blog, I've been very ill for most of the time. I think I'd like to write more sometime about weight and being ill, but the idea of writing about this thing that has sucked the life out of me (seemingly, not really) is a daunting proposition. So I'm blogging about something else.
It's occurred to me, oh these many months, that there is something wrong with the scare tactics that are being used to draw people into weight loss. We are getting fatter, the "experts" insist, and this is bad, bad, bad for our health. Researchers write that we fat folks will die young, messy deaths if we don't lose weight. Never to mention the unmentioned Gilbert Grape-esque threat that we will be too large to move from our king sized beds when we kick it.
I don't think I'll speak to the fear of dying fat right now. I'm on the scent of the living, if you will. You see, I'm a big fan of random internet-ness...most particularly quizes or things that tell me randomly that my porn name would be Missy Emerson. So several years ago, I remembered doing one of those life-expectancy calculators on the web.
I was, at the time, in the midst of a weight loss endeavor. I was, also, almost suicidally depressed and drinking to solve this, rather than sensibly approaching my doctor for an antidepressant. I remembered, at the time, being safely close to the national average for life expectancy.
So I started to wonder, had gaining back those 41 lbs really diminished my life expectancy drastically? Was I really going to die at young age? Was there a significant difference between my life expectancy at the weight I was currently at and the "ideal" for my height according to the BMI ranges?
While I didn't remember the exact years I was told I could expect to live, I was easily able to re-configure the information on a calculator at MSN Money. My life expectancy at the time was 62 years old.
So my life expectancy today, with added weight but no drinking? 67 years old. The calculator tells me that I would live to be 77 if I dropped 100 lbs. I should be impressed, I suppose, but does that 10 years really mean anything - or the calculators?
Both my parents are overweight. They are both inactive, generally, although my mother still works. Both are considered obese. My mother has heart disease (long standing, she had her first heart attack at 41 when she was underweight and chainsmoking) and my father had cancer about 5 years ago (successfully treated with surgery) and has had several strokes. I would like to be more vigorous than they at their age, yes, but my sense is that this has more to leading an active lifestyle than it does to do with their weight.
Indeed, the illnesses from which they suffered are what predisposed me to a lower life-expectancy. If my mother hadn't had heart disease and my father hadn't had cancer, I would be living to a fat and happy 88 years, according to the same calculator.
The only immediate family members (even the fat ones) I've had who have died before the ripe age of 80 were the result of suicide. I've, happily, discovered the joys of antidepressants and feel the urge never again to succumb to that hell without a pharmaceutical fight. So I'm guessing that if I exercise, eat fruits and veggies, don't smoke or drink, I'm in for a long and feisty life.