Monday 18 December 2017

Shape up: What are the benefits of being fat?

Damien Maher

If we all know the benefits of being fit and healthy, why are so many people still overweight

Everyone is aware that being overweight can seriously impact on your health. RedBranch, a charity that promotes healthy lifestyle choices in Irish children and young people, says that each year in Ireland, 40pc of the population dies from heart disease, 25pc dies from cancer, 39pc of Irish adults are overweight and 18pc are obese.

The numbers of overweight and obese children in Ireland are higher than the European average, with 22pc of five to 12-year-olds now falling into this category. These obese children will soon become obese adults and so the spiralling costs of the condition will continue to escalate.


People know that exercise can reduce your risk of disease and increase your longevity and quality of life. Yet many choose not to participate in any. Similarly, everybody knows that an apple is healthier than a doughnut, but not everyone will eat the apple when given a choice.

Obesity does not happen by accident. No one eats fast food by accident or trips up and falls into a box of doughnuts or gets held hostage by a cream cake until they eat it. If you are wearing it, somewhere along the line you ate or drank it!

People eat and laze their way to hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and some forms of cancers, yet exercise has been shown to lower the risk of all of these.

The Chinese subscribe to the concept of yin and yang, which is a belief that two complementary forces exist in the universe. One is yang, which represents everything positive or masculine, and the other is yin, which is characterised as negative or feminine.

One is not better than the other. Instead they are both necessary and a balance of both is highly desirable.

In weight loss, everyone can see the benefits of exercise, healthy nutrition and getting in shape. It can influence the seven areas of our life from spiritual, mental, vocational, financial, familial, social and physical, by increasing our energy and longevity, increasing self-confidence and productivity in work, resulting in more work completed and therefore more income received.

On the other side of the coin, what are the benefits of being fat, overweight or obese?

It is my experience from coaching people that life events can have a significant influence on their health. For example, clients who link eating with emotions may have used their fat to protect them from being hurt again in relationships.

Massive increases in body weight will reduce the chances of attracting someone like their previous ex-partner so the risk of getting hurt again has been reduced. The problem is the client doesn't see this. They act subconsciously.


There are many others who have a 'feeder'. This is a person who expresses affection through constant nurturing through food.

It is easy being overweight. You get to sit on your backside doing nothing but complaining and making excuses. The Government gets blamed for the sale of soft drinks and fast foods; genetics often gets a mention, as does the thyroid!

Being overweight means you don't have to dedicate between four and six hours a week towards training and your health, and you do not have to shop for nutritious food and prepare it in advance before work.

You get to keep all your money for alcohol and cigarettes and you do not have to be ridiculed or put under peer pressure for being a "bore" by not drinking with your friends!

In initial consultations with prospective clients, I hear a lot of stories and excuses on why people are overweight. "I would love to be like those people and train four times a week." Why don't you, I ask. Then the stories and verses that have been replayed hundreds of times previously to their friends and family, justifying their weight gain, starts again.

It is my job to coach people and to do what many friends and family have failed to do, which is tell the truth. The next part is to take 100pc responsibility for yourself and your health.


You need to be motivated to do the things that you care less about. You may say you have no time for exercise, but we all have the same 24 hours in a day. A mother may need to be motivated to go to the gym but she does not need to be motivated to pick up her child from school. In this area of her life she has order and discipline, but in her health and training there may be chaos.

Your success in weight loss and your health will dramatically improve if you can see how your fat has served you. You need to face your fears and see both sides of the coin.

We all have choices. You can choose to be in the greatest shape of your life, or you can choose to be a fraction of the person that you were born to be. The decision is yours. If you do not make time for fitness now, you will have to make time for illness later!

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in Life