I have a fair bit of respect for the outspokenness of Katie Hopkins, and generally I tend to agree with the gist of what she says – more or less – but there is an issue that I just can’t agree with her on and that is the subject of obesity.
Those of you who know me in real life know that I am not exactly a wilting little flower and I am rather a “hefty” girl…ok, ok, I’m obese. There I’ve said it.
Now, according to Katie Hopkins the reason I am obese is because I stuff my face with the wrong type of food all day and I do no exercise. In her view, it’s all my own fault and all I have to do is simply stop stuffing my face and get off my lardy arse for the weight will disappear.
She is so certain of her opinion on obesity that she recently decided to prove her theory by demonstrating how straightforward it is to lose weight by doing precisely that herself. She has been purposely over-eating for the last few months to put on over 3 stone in weight, and she will begin an intensive programme of weight loss beginning on the 8th September to show fatties like me that losing weight is just a question of having the right attitude to food and exercise. She is on record as saying “fat people need to look in the mirror, look at themselves, and realise it’s their fault”. Thanks Katie.
These two pictures show just how far she is prepared to go to prove her point. The “before” picture on the left and the “after” on the right show just what she looks like after piling on the weight. If you want to read more on her stunt, click here.
On the one hand I applaud her commitment to her view by doing that to herself but on the other, I’m hopping mad at her for her over-simplistic take on the causes and reasons for obesity. Katie Hopkins is an entrepreneur, not a medical expert and as far as I can ascertain she has no training in the field of diet and nutrition, and she certainly is not any sort of expert in exercise regimes, so how her opinion on this can be only that, an opinion and not a viable scientific study.
As any obese person will tell you, the path to their size and their weight won’t have ever been a simple one and therefore the pathway back to a “healthy” size won’t be simple either. Katie Hopkins is labouring under the illusion that weight gain is a result of a simple mathematical equation:
too much food + too little exercise = obesity
But that is far too simplistic and doesn’t take into consideration genetics, hormones, biological imbalances etc. My own pathway to obesity began when I went on the pill at the age of 17. The introduction of artificial hormones at that age and stage of my development has had a lifelong impact on my own hormones, and as well as weight gain I also have had other associated problems with too much/too little of the correct hormones washing around my body. I don’t want to go into details here, but weight gain has been only one of those side effects.
Coupled with that, my own genetics have had an impact on my weight. If you look at any of the women in my family – cousins, aunties etc – you will see that there is a common link between us all and that is that we all have weight issues. Some are better than others at controlling it, but generally we are all on the larger side.
Those two things are pretty well accepted in medical circles as being contributors to weight issues, but the third factor in my case is not something that is quantifiable, or even explainable, sometimes. Over the years whenever I have tried to diet, I have somehow managed to PUT ON weight every single time. I went to WeightWatchers in my early 20s and followed their diet plan to the absolute letter for about three months. I had to stop it because I’d put on a stone in that time. The experience then was repeated time and time again during my 20s and 30s, and the only time I have ever lost any significant amount of weight was, surprisingly, when I was carrying my second child. I ended that pregnancy weighing less than I did at the start. Weird eh?
I enjoy cycling and as a way to a) try to lose weight (again) and b) raise some money a couple of years ago, we decided as a family that we would cycle from Morecambe to Scarborough, a distance of about 120 miles over three days. Obviously it wasn’t something we could just do straight off, so we put miles and miles of training in. Personally I have never done so much exercise as I did in the 12 months or so before we did the big ride and I was cycling upwards of about 100 miles per week to try and build my stamina and my fitness levels. I managed to do that, and I managed to ride the Coast to Coast with my husband in the three days as planned. My fitness levels were great – I was recovering quickly from training rides, my breathing etc were fine and I felt fairly flexible. The trouble was that I did not lose a single pound during all that time and in actual fact I put more weight on. I didn’t do anything special with my eating habits – I neither dieted nor went mad with calorie intake, and yet I still put on weight.
Year on year my weight has crept up, and it was only when I became ill about 4 years ago that my weight stabilised. During the course of my illness I have seen quite a few doctors and they have all mentioned that my weight is an issue – as if I didn’t know that myself. In September last year the consultant I saw at the hospital suggested that I go on his “special” diet that would help me. It was a fairly restricted diet with only a few foods permitted on it and I followed it faithfully for about three months. Right through Christmas with no chocolate or anything and guess what the result was? Yes, that’s right, I put on yet more weight. A stone in three months on a hospital prescribed diet? There’s got to be something wrong somewhere.
I now weigh more than I have ever done in my life and I am at a loss as to what to do about it. But here’s the rub. Katie Hopkins reckons that I am the size and weight that I am simply because I stuff my face but as you can see from my story, that simply is not true. We are financially constrained at the moment and our food budget is tight to say the least. My doctor’s advice is for me to lose weight I should be eating three meals a day with three sensible snacks in between, and to take some moderate exercise. Which is great but we don’t have enough money for me to eat that much food every day. My typical day’s food intake at the moment is a slice of toast and marmite for breakfast, a snack for lunch (today it was an apple and a small piece of cheese) and then my tea, which is a meal I can cook for my boys to share. My weight is variable, by up to 10lbs either way depending on the time of the month (both hormonal and financial), yet according to Ms Hopkins the weight should be dropping off me.
I wonder how it will work out for her in the next couple of months? She has the advantage of proper nutritional food to eat and will no doubt be undertaking a rigorous exercise regime to get rid of her excess weight. She also has the advantage of the unnatural weight gain in the first place. She has purposely eaten fattening food in order to put the weight on, so for her, reversing her weight gain will certainly be a simple process of reversing the pattern.
It bothers me that if she finds it easy to lose the weight again she will forever be convinced that us fatties are products of our own greed, and not the far more complex issues that have brought people like me to the size we are. I am not and have never been a big eater, and I don’t consider myself to be a greedy eater neither. Sadly though, Ms Hopkins would view me as someone who makes excuses and hides behind a hormonal shield to explain my excess weight but for me and for many other women like me, it’s not as simple as she is trying to make out.
So it will be interesting to see how things work out in the next couple of months for her. Will she struggle against her age and her own personal biology to lose the weight? Or will it drop off her as easily as it was put on? Will she ever see that being obese is not a simple equation and is quite often a result of many other factors? Will she ever be convinced that there are people like me out there who put weight on despite a starvation diet and quite hefty exercise regimes? Or will she forever be convinced that fat people are just greedy over-eaters who hold their own destinies on the end of their own forks? Time will tell.