┬áRecently my wife and I spent a relaxing weekend in Stanthorpe – a popular wine growing designation south west of Brisbane. We stayed in a beautiful B and B ( bed and breakfast) colonial house on the fringe of a picturesque winery. B and B’s are a bit different from the standard hotel room as there’s a common dining room where all guests congregate at breakfast. We were joined by a chatty couple in their mid-sixties from Roma (lets call them the Romas) who were attending a wedding and a pleasant family from Sydney. Let’s call them Mum, Dad, Daughter and Son-in-Law. Dad and Son-in-Law didn’t say much – most of their words being doused by Mum and Daughter. Inevitably, the conversation over breakfast turned to food – which is pretty easy as the region is renounced for its quality cellar doors and restaurants. As breakfast was served we all noticed that Daughter wasn’t eating.

“Aren’t you eating”? asked the Romas
“No way, I’ve had too many carbs as it is last night at dinner” replied daughter
“What wrong with carbs”? I asked
“They’re evil” she exclaimed
“There’s carbs and there’s carbs” I said…..”the goods ones keep you alive” I continued
“Most of them just make me fat” she replied.

Marketing executive one. Nutritionalist nil.

“They do nothing for me either” said mum.

Now let’s pause for a moment. Mum was morbidly obese with a BMI of over 40.

Mum began tucking into her breakfast of fried eggs, sausages and a hash brown. When she finished she pulled out a clear zip-tie bag containing 20 or so bottles of pills or what she called ‘medication’.

She held the bag up slightly, almost proudly. I had visions of Pete Sampras holding his Wimbledon cup aloft for the seventh time. She then gave the bag a big once-only shake as if calling the room to attention.

She got what she wanted.

My wife and I and the Roma’s were startled not only by the contents of the bag but I had a raft of questions that immediately sprung to mind: what does all that stuff do? How long does it take to swallow all those pills? How many days, months or years has this daily ritual played out? ..and the biggy….is there an alternative solution to this enduring pill-popping?

Dad became agitated and….well….embarrassed.

“Why don’t you take them in your room”? he said

Without even hearing him she gestured towards the glass water bottle in the middle of the table.

“I’ll just take these now…it won’t take me long” she said.

The way I see it, the little bag of pills was her big bag of excuses….her ‘winnings’ from a life she lost control of long ago – her trophy of sorts. She didn’t have to explain why she was the way she was….she was sick, and she had a 1,0000 little pills to prove it. Hiding behind her pills was safe, comfortable and justifiable.

I began to think about what it would take for this woman to turn her health around – free from restrictions, excuses and blame. I couldn’t help but wonder that, sadly, it was the beginning of the end for her. Aging with obesity will create its own complications including the onset of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Not to mention the increasing reliance on others as the ability to move about freely or recovery from injuries becomes restrictive. The fact is that it didn’t have to be this way. No one sets out to be overweight or obese no more than anyone sets out to be depressed or lonely. Equally, no one ends up obese behind their own backs either.

The good news is that her road to better health is more within reach than what she thinks. It starts with a large dose of self awareness and self responsibility – the ability to take charge and move from an unhealthy point A to a healthier point B. The next step, is by far the most challenging and in all cases defines why people succeed or fail in making healthy, long-lasting change.

In my experience those who succeed are able to move from knowing WHAT to do…..to DOING what they know. It’s all about putting KNOWLEDGE into ACTION. This is where the rubber hits the road and where the incremental changes are made. Small changes, day after day is what matters.

I hope mum is able to regain control of her life before it’s too late. I can’t help but think taking all those pills every day would be far worse than taking her first step towards a healthier life.