Whose Fault Is It That I’m Overweight?


Credit: Color Day Production/Getty

Lazy. Ignorant. Irresponsible. Disgusting. Most of us have heard or read these terms directed toward overweight or obese individuals. Or worse, we’ve thought or said something like that ourselves.

A year ago, I was 50 pounds heavier than I am today. I wasn’t very active. I would get winded climbing the four flights of stairs to our offices. (I still do, to be honest.) Walking a mile on the treadmill was fine, but walking two hours for fun? No way. I parked as close to stores as possible. Does this mean I was lazy? Well, no, not in my mind. I just wasn’t used to being active. I was, for lack of a better term, out of practice.

Until last year, I ate without giving any thought to calories. I wasn’t eating nonstop or dropping by McDonald’s on my way to Chick-Fil-A. I just cooked what sounded good, ate out a good bit, and got by with what I had in my pantry. Does that mean I’m ignorant? Well, maybe, but I wasn’t overeating. I just wasn’t eating well or right.

I’ve struggled with a weight problem my entire life. I don’t remember not being heavy or overweight. This is a combination of poor food education and a lack of activity as a child and teenager. Does this make my parents irresponsible? Not in my book. They were not equipped to teach me—or themselves—how to make good food choices. We ate what they knew how to cook. I made the same food choices they made, and they made the same food choices their parents made. It’s not their failure. It’s just a broken cycle.

Early in high school, wanting to lose weight, I sought advice from my doctor. Instead of referring me to an RD or a healthy-eating coach, he gave me pills. Weight-loss pills. Please understand that I believe these pills serve a very important and real purpose for some people. But I didn’t need pills. I needed help. I needed guidance. My family needed guidance to help me (and all of us) make better choices.


What I needed: guidance. What I was given: pills.
Credit: Electra K. Vasileiadou

This guidance wouldn’t come until much later in life. I’ve spent most of my entire professional career working in an environment that promotes healthy eating and healthy living. This may come as a shock to people when you understand my history. Yes, I’m an overweight editor working at the country’s largest healthy-cooking and lifestyle magazine. Does this mean I’m in the wrong job? I don’t think so. I think I’m in the perfect job. I’ve lived through all the diets, misconceptions, untruths, and pyramid schemes of weight loss. I have had every single one of the weight-loss questions our readers have. If anything, my experiences help me be a better editor.

So whose fault is it that I’m overweight? No one’s. My weight problems are the result of a system that just didn’t know how to help me or was afraid to address my problem. It’s a system that still exists today.

Fortunately, our country’s food revolution is shifting the focus toward quality and proactive lifestyle changes. Our fixation on cheap, easy eats is slowly (and I do mean slowly) being replaced by a drive to create, experiment, and push the limits with healthy, wholesome foods. Hopefully with that, the young girls who go to their doctor for help will find the help they need comes in the form of greens, grains, and great food, not pills.

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  1. Stephanie

    I see i’m a year late reading this article.(It’s December 2016 tomorrow) but I most like the statement you made “Hopefully with that, the young girls who go to their doctor for help will find the help they need comes in the form of greens, grains, and great food, not pills.” And I would like to add “not surgery” to that statement.

    I work with so many women who are taking “supplements” or have had the bypass surgery when all they need to do is learn how to eat the right way. I myself lost 40 lbs in 2012 and have kept it off. I did it with running and a healthy diet and it has stayed off. A woman I work with did a diet that was VERY calorie restricted and of course she lost 70+ lbs, but after she ‘transitioned’ as the diet called it she added back on at least 40 of those lbs. It kills me watching her disappointment because she was very disciplined about eating the exact foods and calories that this diet told her. I wish I could get her to see that if she would apply that discipline to a healthy diet she would have the same results and minimal bounce back of the unwanted lbs.

    November 30, 2016 at 3:14 pm
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  6. Martha

    That was a wonderful article, Kimberly. Thanks for writing! And, yes, I think you have the perfect job!! The only thing I think our youth has to learn is to keep an eye on their weight. If they find themselves up 10, 20 pounds, make some changes – whether it’s diet (and by that I mean change what they are eating, not go on a diet), exercise, check in with the doctor – and don’t let it get out of hand. Life will be much easier for them, in my opinion.

    July 26, 2015 at 7:01 pm
  7. Lisa

    Thanks for the article. Very true. Sometimes we are overweight, and just don’t think about it, or what we need to do to change. Or we think we can’t change. If we really want to change, we will make the effort.

    Also, I want to add that sometimes, and I think it is true for being overweight, it doesn’t matter who is at fault. If I’m overweight it is my dilemma, even if I didn’t cause it. It is my responsibility to try to solve it. Thinking about blame isn’t useful. Once we realize that we have control, we have power. We can learn, and take action. I think this is true for many problems.

    July 26, 2015 at 6:26 pm
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  10. Allan

    A really great insight and proves a point that one size fits all solutions do not work. Giving the natural side of our systems natural assistance is too often overlooked as the results may appear too long to see. However having a positive nutrition plan can work wonders for the longevity of being at your optimum.

    A wonderful read

    June 9, 2015 at 5:20 am
  11. L Mosgofian

    Of course it’s my responsibility for what I eat. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to losing weight than eat less, exercise more, which is what one doctor told me. Protein, carbs, calories, metabolism, thyroid — all these words thrown around and yet there’s no one plan that works for everyone. Never mind the need for exercise! The focus on weight loss is practically a second job and it’s exhausting. Thankfully, there are good resources out there if you take the time to find them and follow through. It also takes great strength of mind to ignore the subversives and food police who feel they’re helping you by watching your every bite and commenting on it.

    June 5, 2015 at 8:13 pm
  12. Deb Wise

    I love you Kimberly. You melt my heart.

    June 5, 2015 at 2:24 pm
  13. judy killeen

    I appreciate your story. I too have lost about 54 lbs in the past year. I still have about 90-96 lbs to go. It is hard work but the benefits I have gotten in the past year! Blood tests numbers almost normal, fitness and stamina improved- I can do planks & squats! For me the eating is, no was, a way to handle stress and unhappiness and occasional bouts of depression. I had gotten to a healthy weight about 26-27 years ago , but gradually gained it back and more. I knew what to do, but would get to a point where I just got stuck. Now I am doing it for my health so when I finally do retire, I will be able to walk and be active. I had trouble getting off the couch a year ago. This week I took a water aerobics class, a Zumba class and did 2 weight training sessions plus a long walk tonight after work. And ate healthy meals 95% of the time. I am not perfect but am trying to focus on healthy choices in food and activity. Cooking Light really helps with the food part and articles like this give support

    June 5, 2015 at 1:13 pm
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  15. Sam

    It’s ultimately your fault though. No one made you ingest those calories. Take some personal responsibility.

    June 4, 2015 at 9:40 am
    • Ashley

      nice Sam, so glad you’re perfect..I don’t think that’s what the author was trying to say..

      June 5, 2015 at 5:27 pm
  16. Holley Grainger, MS, RD

    Fantastic post, Kimberly! Thanks for sharing such an honest and brave journey and pointing out what so many people need to understand (and may be continuing to deny. Good luck with your efforts to teach others about healthy food choices–you’ve already made such a huge impact on the Cooking Light reader and I know it will only continue.

    June 3, 2015 at 6:11 pm

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