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Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

News Anchor Confronts the Stigma of Obesity

posted by Linda Mintle

This week, a television viewer wrote anchorwoman, Jennifer Livingston at WKBT-TV in LaCrosse Wisconsin, an email informing her that she was overweight. He went on to say that she is not an example for young people, and needed to promote and present a healthier lifestyle when it comes to her appearance. It was her community responsibility. The anchor responded with one of the best retorts I have heard in awhile. She acknowledged being “fat” and told the man to stop setting an example of bullying people for their weight.

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America’s obese are subject to tremendous psychological burdens. Obesity may be a medical state, but people create the psychological burden associated with it. Often, the pain involves self-hatred that can lead to depression and anxiety, social isolation and alienation.

There is unbelievable social bias toward the obese. Obese people are stereotyped and often viewed as ugly, lazy, unwanted, unhealthy, weak-willed, uncontrolled, etc. If you are obese, you are less likely to marry and more likely to fall in social class. You are likely to be discriminated against concerning jobs, college entrance and be stereotyped by your physician. Basically you are stigmatized by an unsympathetic society; we’re “allowed” to discriminate against you. Fat jokes abound.  But what does it mean medically to be obese?

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Obesity is an excess of body fat. Little agreement exists on just when body fat and weight become a health issue. (Opinions range anywhere from 5% to 30% above ideal weight.) And to make matters worse, a variety of tables are used to measure ideal weights.

Researchers use the body mass index (BMI) as a measure of body fat and health risk. BMI is weight in kilograms per height in meters. The National Center for Health Statistics defines overweight as a BMI of 27.3 in women and 27.8 in men. This is approximately 20% to 40% above ideal weight on the 1983 Metropolitan Life tables.

Most people classify obesity according to weight even though there are numerous medical, psychological, and behavioral variables involved. Obesity is referred to as a public health issue because of the associated medical complications leading to morbidity and mortality.

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Obesity is not a psychological condition. It’s a medical condition that has multiple causes, consequences, and treatments. However, obesity can cause or be caused by psychosocial problems. So to ignore these issues is irresponsible.

Moreover, the stigma against obese people must be attacked. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is one advocacy group trying to do this. Other programs focus efforts on recognizing the stigma, preparing obese people to respond to it, and repairing the damage to self-esteem.

The next time you are tempted to make fun of someone obese, think about the incredible complexity of her condition and your role in reducing social stigma. You don’t know an obese person’s life story or unique medical make-up. You don’t know how much she may struggle to be accepted.  Stop judging and adding insult to injury. You could be part of the healing rather than the hurt if you exercise the unconditional love of God.

As Jennifer so rightly stated, we are all more than a number on a scale.

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Six Tips to Help You Transition with Change

posted by Linda Mintle

Fall reminds me of new beginnings. They are exciting but stressful at the same time. One reason is because new beginnings involve change. Change, whether positive or negative, brings stress.

Here are six tips to help you transition during any change:

1) Embrace the change.  Stop wishing things were the same. If you are in the middle of a change, don’t fight it, embrace it.

2) Change your thoughts from negative to positive. Instead of thinking of all the negatives and what could go wrong with change, shift your thinking to the positives. Intentionally focus on the up side of change and your attitude will improve.

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3) Look at this as a new challenge versus an imposition or negative. Change means new opportunities. And novelty is good for brain health.

4) Calm down.  A few deep breaths and muscle relaxation if the stress is building. Read your Bible and quiet yourself for a few minutes each morning. “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” When we face difficult change, God is with us to walk us through the stress and circumstance.

5) Problem-solve. How can I make this change work for me. Generate a few simple solutions. Think through ways to optimize the opportunity.

6) Live in the moment. Instead of thinking about what was lost, just roll with it and see where the changes takes you. Don’t anticipate all the problems. Stop. Refocus on now.  Relax, embrace the moment. Focus on the benefits.

In the end, we can fight change or embrace it. And when we embrace it, we usually grow.

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Temptation, A Spiritual Poison Ivy

posted by Linda Mintle

I pulled a weed the other day. It looked harmless but turned out to be poison ivy. The rash has now spread all over my arms and face. I itch and am in pain and have had to resort to a steroid to get the swelling down. Just a few seconds of touching something harmful has led to weeks of pain and suffering. There was a moment when I looked at the poison ivy and thought, this might be poisonous (Leaves of three, let it be!), but in my impulsivity, I threw caution to the wind and picked it up.

How often do we do this in life and then pay a price later?

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We must be aware of those things that appear to be harmless, but we know have a toxic touch. Dabbling in pornography or a flirtatious relationship falls into this category.  Both may seem harmless when you first look or engage, but end in serious negative consequences.

Scripture tells us to flee from temptation, not pick it up and engage in it. Do we do this? Do we turn off that movie that is causing us to lust? Do we stop the advances of our office mate, knowing we are playing with fire? Do we go to a party and drink too much and later regret our actions? Temptation is like the beautiful ivy plant. It looks healthy and harmless but is toxic when touched.

Think about the poison ivy in your life. Be intentional when it comes to fleeing temptation. The suffering you avoid will be worth it.

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Matthew 26:41- Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

 

James 4:7- Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

1 Corinthians 10:13- No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

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Can You Change Your Mom?

posted by Linda Mintle

A willingness to change helps in every relationship. We aren’t perfect and all bring some emotional baggage to our relationships. Perhaps you and your mother are locked in a situation now where a change is needed, but it seems too difficult to even think about.

I’ve had a number of women say to me. “My mother is the one who should change. After all she is the mother and supposed to be more mature. I’ll change when she changes.”

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My answer to this comment is, “Maybe your mother isn’t in a position to change right now, or maybe she just refuses to change at all. Since only children fight about who should go first, are you ready to be a grown-up and start working on your relationship. You make changes and you’ll see a relationship change .

I like to borrow author Harriet Lerner’s visual picture of relationships. Mother-daughter relationships can be thought of like a dance. You take a step, then she does and a familiar dance emerges. Get that picture in your mind. If you make a change in the familiar dance, it changes the dance. That idea should give you hope. You are not a victim if your mother won’t change because any change you make in the relationship, will change the relationship. Expect resistance when you change because we all like to do things the same old way–it’s comfortable and what we know. Change is uncomfortable but possible.

If you want to begin making changes in your mother-daughter relationship, don’t keep hoping your mom will change. Instead, you concentrate on your step in the mother-daughter dance. Make the necessary changes. Work on your reactions to her and I promise, change will take place.

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