So I'm feeling a bit feisty today and wanted to write a blog post about Bob Harper and the unfortunate recent heart attack he suffered. While I jumped off the Biggest Loser bandwagon many years ago, I did and still do like Bob quite a bit. I always got the sense that he was very uncomfortable with the same things that started making me uncomfortable with the show, plus he just seems like a decent person who wants to help people who want the help. Like many this week, I was sad and shocked to learn that he had a heart attack and have been very watchful of any new news on his condition since I'm still suffering from 2016 Celebrity Death PTSD. (That's an official diagnosis and you can't tell me any different.) And because I'm a glutton for punishment, I did what you should never do, and that's look at the comment section of the Facebook posts/articles I've been reading on him. Sigh. It's 2017, shouldn't I know by now to not look at an internet comment section?
Obviously there were lots of well wishes and all of that, but half of the comments were all TRIUMPH over the fact that a fit person had a heart attack. I was going to screen cap a bunch of them, but I'm too lazy to black out names and all of that. Basically they all boil down to "Hur dur, see, this is why working out and being healthy doesn't matter, you're just going to die anyways." Or "this is why you shouldn't fat shame people because fat people can be healthy too."
First of all not to be sanctimonious, but can we maybe NOT be gleeful that someone had a heart attack and almost died, regardless of who they are and what their weight is? So many of these comments came across as "yaaas, thin people can die too!", and it really grossed me out.
Secondly, this is a complicated issue, and I'm going to do my best to rant about in a sensitive way that hopefully doesn't piss off people who read this. And I want to start by saying that fat (OR thin) shaming is never good or right. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness, dignity and respect regardless of sex, race, religion, nationality, class and yes, size. I feel like this is a basic principle we can all agree on, no? Basically, we should all do our best to go through life without being a dick to people. Having said that, facts and science are not shaming. Being overweight and having unhealthy eating habits DOES significantly increase your risk for disease, including cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart disease. This isn't something I'm pulling out of my butt and saying to shame anyone, it's peer reviewed, science based evidence. It's not that I take any pleasure in these facts or feel smug about it, I just am recognizing they exist. We're living in an age where being supportive of the scientific community is CRITICAL. I don't have patience for science denial. If you subscribe to the "we're all going to die anyway" attitude, that's fine and your choice, but you don't get to make up your own science.
"But Bob was fit and healthy and had a heart attack! In fact he had it at the gym!" Yes, Bob Harper is crazy fit and had a heart attack. (Let's also note that he was given immediate attention by a DOCTOR who was also working out at the gym). He also has a family history of heart disease, and unfortunately his own mother died of a heart attack. Being healthy doesn't make you immortal nor does it eliminate risks if certain diseases run in your family. I personally also have a ton of heart disease history in my family and am currently on blood pressure medication. I also store most of my fat in my waist, which is the worst place if you have a history of heart disease. I will likely always be on blood pressure medication seeing that most of my family (fairly active, fit people) take it. I will always need to monitor and try to reduce my belly fat. While working my way towards a healthy weight and eating better will never eliminate my genetic risk for heart disease, it along with medication and regular medical checkups sure as hell can reduce the risk. Even if I were to have a heart attack, the effort I make now towards living a healthier life increases my chance of survival and recovery. Generally in life, don't we do our best to decrease our chance of dying? We wear seat belts in cars, helmets on bikes/motorcycles, we cover up electrical sockets around little kids, we put babies in car seats, we don't take more than a certain dosage of medicine at a time, etc. We happily and without question do all of those things because there is research saying that if you don't do them, our risk of death increases right? So why in the ever loving hell are weight and lifestyle changes ANY different and why do people want so desperately to disprove the science on it? It would literally be like saying "I'm not going to put my baby in a car seat, they'll be fine laying across the backseat. All these stupid researchers don't know what they're talking about anyways!"
Look, I'm not trying to rag on people. I get that lifestyle changes are very difficult and sometimes can be a drag. Trust me, I struggle every damn day trying to be better and healthier. I fail a lot of days because I fight against my own laziness and terrible habits. But I keep pushing forward and keep trying to change because it's worth it to me to live longer and feel better while I'm doing it. I feel the physical benefits from lifestyle changes such as not getting heartburn anymore, less achy joints, more restful sleep, better breathing, better balance, the list goes on. I used to have frightening symptoms such as really bad pressure and numbness in my head, episodes of heart racing and other things that definitely indicated that I was on my way to heart attack and stroke territory if I didn't turn things around. I haven't had those types of symptoms in awhile. There is nothing about my old life that's worth going back to now that I've felt what it feels like to be healthier.
At the end of the day, we all have free will and have to make our own choices with the information we're given. If you're not at a place where you can or want to make changes in your life, that's okay, I truly do get it. I myself wasn't able to get it together until I got a "you're going to die if you keep down this path" from a doctor. It's not the choice itself I judge, it's the thumbing of the nose at science that irritates the fire out of me. It's the joy taken at someone like Bob Harper almost dying because it's "proof" that health doesn't matter.
Anyway, sorry about the rant, I hope it didn't piss anyone off, and I also wish Bob a full and speedy recovery!