I’m a certified personal trainer and will attest to the fact that obese people can exercise as well as lean people.
ONE: “Why bother exercising since I weigh so much and can barely walk one block? “
Exercising is not about performance. It’s about effort. Do not obsess about times, speeds, repetitions or range of motion. Instead, focus on effort. If all you can do is lumber around the block a few times, then do that. The lean jock who can sprint past you like a jack rabbit will feel just as fatigued as you will. It’s all relative. If you can barely walk one block, start out doing one block. Do it every day until it becomes two blocks, then four. Along the way, you’ll be able to pick up speed. That which gets you winded and breaking a sweat, and that is sustained, will produce a training effect.
TWO: “Isn’t it not safe for an obese person to huff and puff and work up a sweat?”
It’s not safe for ANY body to be sedentary and loaf around. Yes, it’s not safe for an obese person to do jumping and hanging drills, which can injure knees and shoulders. But it is perfectly okay for the obese person to work up a sweat with his or her best walking effort. Obese people do very well with weight lifting. If you feel uneasy about getting winded and fatigued from physical exertion, then get a complete physical.
THREE: “Am I’m too fat to exercise?”
Who says exercise must involve sprinting, jump roping or cross-country skiing? Seriously overweight people need to determine what they can do, and what it takes to break a sweat and increase heart rate. If what it takes is a slow walk for 20 minutes, then this is the starting point. If a fast walk is required to challenge you, then walk fast. And don’t forget that obese women and men can be very efficient at seated weight-lifting routines, as well as standing routines with dumbbells. If you can walk into a gym, you can exercise – even if it has to be the club’s easiest aerobics class.
FOUR: “If a child is really fat, doesn’t this mean it just has to be a medical condition or genetic disorder?”
This is the easy way out, because nobody likes to think that a mother could mindlessly feed her child dangerously high portions of junk food. But this kind of “motherly love” actually exists. Genetic disorders that cause nonstop hunger are extremely rare. So are genetic disorders that cause metabolism to be so slow, that morbid obesity results no matter how restricted the diet. Medical conditions that cause significant overweight are also very rare. Far more common, however, is the parent who can’t say “No” to a heavy child begging for more and more food.
FIVE: “That $5,000 fat camp for teens must really work; otherwise, it wouldn’t cost so much. Right?”
Before you max out your credit card on that camp by the sparkling lake that’s staffed with nutritionists, counselors, dieticians, psychologists, fitness coaches and medical doctors, ask yourself how such the environment duplicates reality. Sure, your teen will lose weight while there, because it’s out in the country, away from TVs, computers, malls and school friends. It’s also away from your home, where the unhealthy lifestyle patterns originated. So when your slimmed down youngster returns home, he or she will re-enter the very environment that gave rise to the weight problem in the first place! Overweight youth need to learn how to live healthier lives in the very environment they live in, not a fictitious environment far from home.