I’ve had a weight problem since I was 6. I’ve weighed as much as 256 pounds, and I’m currently around 225. At that weight and standing 5’4″, my BMI is 38.6, which makes me “obese” or “extremely obese,” depending on which chart you read.
Just thought I’d get that out right at the start of my blog here at Health.com, because certainly someone will check out my contributor photo and realize that I am not a slim woman. I’ve never been smaller than a size 14 (though I’m still determined to get into a 12). And just as my diabetic colleague Sean Kelley knows more than most about his disease, I know quite a bit about mine.
There’s a funny thing about our perceptions of overweight people. We accept that people living with diabetes, cancer, celiac disorder, or any other condition know enough to teach the rest of us a thing or two. But we don’t expect people who are struggling with extra fat to know anything about how to fight it. And it really rankles some people that those who teach about healthy eating have obvious weight struggles.
Years ago, Cooking Light, Health‘s sister magazine, published staff photos in a December issue. The staff had had a baby boom: A third were pregnant or had recently given birth when the photo was taken. Response? Readers sent in nasty letters about how fat they looked. Yet, Cooking Light‘s staff includes registered dietitians and test-kitchen pros who understand the science of healthy, diet-friendly cooking better than most culinary school–trained chefs. (And, if you ask me, better also than the people who make fat-free salad dressing.)
The reality is, even with all the credentials, we are humans first. I’ve spent most of my life trying to shed my weight, and once I joined Health‘s staff and started researching weight management as an editor, I gained a valuable perspective. Applying my journalist’s brain let me step back and do some troubleshooting from a different angle. Since then, I’ve been able to put what I’ve learned as a journalist on a weight-loss beat to successful use.