There, I said it. It’s hard for me to admit but for a better part of 7 years of my life I battled the war on bulge. At the age of 14, at a height of 5 feet 6 inches, I had a 38” waist and tipped the scale at nearly 200 pounds. According to the Body Mass Index I was morbidly obese. How did I get there? Well, that was the easy part. Like many kids, I spent much of my days from the ages of 8 to 15 playing video games, watching TV and eating whatever I wanted. I wasn’t healthy, and worst of all, I wasn’t educated on what I was doing to my body both inside and out.
Along with some of the health complications I bore, one of the hardest things to deal with as an obese teenager was dealing with the stigmas that come with being overweight. Children are mean, but teenagers are cruel. I lived with constant ridicule from my peers, overwhelmed with embarrassment when changing for gym class, and dealing with the snickering of children I’d pass in the playground were just a few of the scenes that I replay in my mind when I think back to my early years. I never wore shorts in the summertime and I always wore baggy clothing in an attempt to camouflage my protruding belly. At the age of 14, on an atypical Sunday morning I looked at myself in the mirror. Thoughts of suicide and self-loathing filled me and I broke down sobbing. With blood-shot eyes and a tear-soaked tee-shirt, I screamed “enough is enough!” and I’ve never looked back. From that point on my life changed forever. My empowerment lay in the realization and acceptance that I was in complete control of me. By means of self-education on nutrition, health and fitness I learned what I needed to do – I started to mountain bike daily, going to the gym and doing things that focused on improving my health and well-being.
I’ve never gone back to that place, but I don’t forget what it was like to be there. It helps me relate with those people who are faced with weight challenges. I know how it feels to have people stare at you; I know what it’s like having to say no to the summer social and pool parties; I know what it’s like to be out of breath after walking up a flight of stairs or the difficulty faced in simply tying your shoes – it’s the little things that seem the hardest to do… remember, you are not alone.
My passion is to engage and challenge people in living healthy, more active lifestyles. With increasing obesity rates and a lack of focus and education on preventative medicine, our country is facing a health epidemic. The solution starts with parents modeling a healthy active lifestyle for their children to follow. Everyone needs inspiration to change and someone to hold them accountable to their fitness goals. It’s my promise to provide inspiration, education, equipment and training – specifically supporting families – so that childhood obesity is no longer an issue in our country.
Remember, with every waking moment there exists an opportunity to make a lifelong change that can impact not only your life, but the lives of those around you. It’s with that in mind that I do what I do. Through education and support, I’m committed to helping both the young and old of today learn the benefits of healthy, active living. Together, childhood obesity will no longer be an issue facing our world.
Childhood obesity is a medical condition that affects children and teenagers. Everyone has a body shape that is just right for them but sometimes we can store excessive body fat. If a child or adult stores too much fat they can be classified as obese. A sign of childhood obesity is a weight well above the average for a child’s height and age.
Which children are at risk of becoming overweight or obese?
Most overweight and obesity problems in childhood are caused by children eating too much and not exercising enough. Weight gain happens when energy ingested (food and drink) is more than energy burned off (physical activity). A very small number of problems with obesity in childhood are related to uncommon genetic diseases. Children at risk of becoming overweight or obese include children who:
* consume food and drinks that are high in sugar and fat on a regular basis such as fast food, candy, baked goods, pop and other sugar-sweetened beverages
* are not physically active each day
* watch a lot of TV and play a lot of video games, activities that don’t burn calories
* live in an environment where healthy eating and physical activity are not encouraged
* eat to help deal with stress or problems
* come from a family of overweight people where genetics may be a factor, especially if healthy eating and physical activity are not a priority in the family
* come from a low-income family who do not have the resources or time to make healthy eating and active living a priority
* have a genetic disease or hormone disorder such as Prader-Willi syndrome or Cushing’s syndrome
This article was written by Dai "The Moose" Manuel
Dai Manuel is a dad, husband, Fitness Town COO, Toastmaster, Crossfit Coach, Ambassador with Visalus & Fitfluential. How can I help you reach your goals?