I'm a sucker for "reality" shows (and, yes, I put those quotation marks there on purpose, because I'm well aware that the presence of cameras automatically prevents real and raw reality. I'm also pretty sure the competition shows are scripted, considering that every one of Chef Ramsay's HELL'S KITCHEN competitions ends in a cliffhanger tie right before a carefully placed commercial break and no groom in his right mind would marry those women in real life if they acted like they do on BRIDEZILLAS.) My favorites in the realer realm would include INTERVENTION, HOARDING: BURIED ALIVE, and MY 600-LB. LIFE. Since a new season of the latter was just added to Hulu this weekend and we're snowed in, I've conveniently been binge-watching it. As I am, something interesting struck me: Those folks who have the starring roles on 600-LB. LIFE aren't too much different from the folks on HOARDING. For those of us who take I Corinthians 16:19 literally and believe our bodies are temples, that our souls are housed in these "buildings" while we are here on Earth, this is a pretty easy analogy to grasp, and we kind of all know it deep down, but let's think about this for a minute...
It' said that about between 5 and 14 million people in the U.S. are compulsive hoarders. The official clinical definition is as follows:
"Compulsive hoarding, also known as hoarding disorder, is a behavioral pattern characterized by excessive acquisition of and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment."
What about obesity though? Is it just a hoard of a different color? I believe, sadly, the answer might be yes.
The characteristics of hoarding, per the experts, include the following:
-- Acquiring large numbers of useless items
-- Neglecting or refusing to get rid of the unnecessary clutter
-- Cluttering living spaces so that they are unable to be used for their intended purpose
-- Blocking access to important functional appliances and home systems, such as fridge, stove, plumbing, electrical
-- Allowance of filth and debris to the point of causing higher degree of rodents and infectious or bacterial threats
-- Damage to possessions and structure due to overcrowding
-- Social anxiety and isolation caused by shame of the condition of the home
-- Propensity to influence hoarding behavior in children and others living in the home
Now, let's think about biological or dietary hoarding. Is taking too many calories into our bodies really much different? The average human body, per the RDA, is supposed to take in 2,000, and for those of us trying to lose weight, it will be less. Anything above and beyond that is "excessive acquisition of useless items." When we spend years, months, or even just weeks piling more on and doing nothing about it (as I have admittedly done over the last couple years), we are "neglecting or refusing to get rid of the unnecessary clutter." In terms of our biological wellbeing, that clutter renders our bodies "unable to be used for their intended purpose." Why? Because the hoarded blubber that results from excessive useless calories "blocks access to important appliances and systems," when our blood cannot circulate and we have trouble taking in the oxygen we need. My previous blog about disarming our army discusses how obesity means we are "allowing filth and debris to the point of causing higher degree of infectious or bacterial threats." For anyone who's felt the aching throb of extra pounds on our knees and ankles and backs, we know that we're suffering from "damage to possessions and structure due to overcrowding." It's no secret that self-esteem is low in people whose scale numbers are high, so most of us understand and have experienced "social anxiety and isolation caused by shame of the condition" of our bodies. And, finally, many of us don't have to be told that our overeating gives us the unfortunate side effect of a "propensity to influence" our children in that harmful behavior.
I don't ever want to beat anyone up, myself included, but in order to fix a problem, we have to first admit that there is one, so we can really analyze the root causes and start looking for solutions. Hoarding was not recognized as an official disorder until 2013, and now, it is widely known to "cause significant distress or impairment. Compulsive hoarding behavior has been associated with health risks, impaired functioning, economic burden, and adverse effects on friends and family members." Sound familiar? It should, if you are a hoarder of calories, because these are the same symptoms we suffer in our bodies, just as hoarders suffer them in their homes.
The good news is that hoarding is also defined as a "behavioral pattern." That means, my friends, that changing the behavior pattern will change the outcome. While I realize there can be many causes for it, as well as for obesity, and that it can be a serious psychological/mental or even physiological issue that requires professional treatment and intervention, those of us who hoard calories CAN usually change our behavior. Maybe that means adding exercise. Maybe it means reducing calories and tracking what you eat. Maybe it means gleaning support from loved ones and other people who are fighting the same battle. Chances are, it means a little of all of these things, but it can and should be done, before the damage is irreversible. My good friend Bonnie, who coached me through my successful weight-loss journey back in 2003, once said, "Remember, we can waste food by buying it and eating it when we don't need it just as much as by throwing it uneaten into the trash." Waist not, want not!
So, while I'm binge-watching, I won't be binge-eating, because at the end of the day, I don't want to have a starring role in any of the shows I watch (except maybe SURVIVOR, if Ozzy's on it, because even if I got booted at the first Tribal Council, I wouldn't mind keeping him company on a coconut hunt for one day!) Let's all change our calorie-hoarding behavior, before our houses are condemned permanently!
P.S. For those of you to whom this will make sense...I finally got to that phone just over the muffintop and am enjoying using it! Yay, progress!