Via, montiam su la’, Panniculi Panniculus

One of my concerns about losing weight, especially in this age of quick weight loss shows like the Biggest Loser, is loose skin. I have a lot of weight to lose, much of it in the form of an abdominal panniculus. As bad as it looks filled out with fat, it would lookalmost as bad as a sagging empty pouch.

Janice Elizabeth Small offers these tips:

1. Lose weight slowly
2. Eat nutrient rich foods
3. Preserve your muscle tone
4. Keep skin hydrated
5. Lose weight sooner rather than later

The Web site of Ron Brown, author of The Body Fat Guide, includes an article called The Myth of Loose Skin that offers some interesting ideas…and a little more hope than the usual advice given, which usually involves (ultimately) a tummy tuck. The article asserts that, by paying attention to body composition, ensuring that you maintain maximum lean body mass during weight loss, you can avoid much of the problem of loose skin. I might be tempted to buy his book except that (a) it’s out of print and (b) I refuse to pay an extra $4 to buy an electronic version of it using Paypal on his site. It’s the principle of the matter.

While poking around on the subject, I came across a February 2008 Globe and Mail article by Irving Gold called “Stop judging – obesity is about more than gluttony” that I found interesting. Here’s a snippet:

It’s also a complex issue, and we crave simplicity. Obesity is about much more than food and individual willpower. It is about the way we organize society, the way we build our cities, produce food, eat, shop and work. Grappling with obesity in a serious way requires us to look at ourselves and how we organize as citizens of a prosperous Western industrialized country. The obese don’t need our scorn — they need our understanding, support and protection. Obesity is about food, which we all require to live. The alcoholic can swear off alcohol, the diabetic can avoid refined sugar and the celiac can eliminate wheat. But the obese don’t have the luxury of swearing off food. Every meal presents a challenge.

Some of the reader comments are particularly insightful. Some are are, well, complete piles of crap. Most are somewhere in between. The crux of the matter is that obesity is more than just eating too much and doing too little. Not many people comprehend that if they haven’t experienced it themselves or don’t at least know someone who has experienced it. I’m not talking about overweight. In my natural state, with a happy, healthy mind and emotional centre, I’d probably still be overweight by 20 or 30 pounds. *That* you can definitely blame strictly on eating too much and/or doing too little — some of my favourite non-pure-junk foods are still high in fat (mmmm, cheese) and/or sugars and I hate to exercise. But 20-30 pounds overweight is not obese. Obesity doesn’t happen easily or comfortably. Dealing with the overeating and/or lack of physical activity without dealing with the underlying issues that drive that person to overeat just results in them replacing one crutch (food) with another (frequently exercise).

Think of obesity as the physical manifestation or symptom of an underlying mental issue. The comparison to alcoholism is very appropos. Both are using a substance as a coping mechanism. My sister is addicted to exercising (denying her the ability to jog for a day results in an angry, frantic jonesing as bad as any drug addict). It’s her method of coping with stress and problems that she can’t deal with any other way. It’s more acceptable socially than my coping method but, either way you cut it, we both have serious mental issues that we’re not dealing with in a healthy way.

It’s funny that I came across that today. That particular article was written shortly after a ruling that airlines couldn’t discriminate against obese passengers by charging them extra. Yesterday, a friend and I were talking about the very subject of overweight people and airplanes. As an overweight person, I would have no problem paying for two economy seats — if I could actually make use of the two seats. Unfortunately, airlines here use planes for short hops (e.g. Toronto to Halifax or Calgary to Vancouver) that have immovable armrests between seats so you can’t turn two seats into one large one for an obese passenger. (Hell, as a thin passenger, I’d love to have the option to buy two seats so that I could have some decent shoulder room.) Expecting an obese person to pay for a business class seat, though, which frequently costs four times or more than an economy class ticket, is unreasonable.


4 thoughts on “Via, montiam su la’, Panniculi Panniculus

  1. Hi Janice, glad to see you here. I’d meant to link to one of the many copies of the article in my post, but after the post started to grow, I appear to have accidentally edited it out. Thanks for providing a link to it. 🙂

  2. Pingback: The Me Project: Day 2 begins « Life Begins at 41…or maybe 43

  3. hello, I have a major problem with the penniculus. I lost over 120 and regained 50..the major part of weight loss was in the tummy. now i have this apron of stuff which causes a problem in walking and causes chaffing, sometimes bleeding and in the summer..heaven help me. i lost the weight by exercising, now i find in hard to be as active as i want to be due to the apron. I am ready to mortgage my home to get it removed. then I could work on the rest of the weight and get to my ideal weight. This thing smells as well…an extra part of the body…what a mess…I need to lose 120 lbs more..

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