Is Being Overweight A Choice? The Unconscious Decisions That Lead To Weight Gain

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The question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by Bart Loews. 

But the choice isn’t “I think I’ll be overweight today” vs. “I think I’ll be not overweight today.”

How much you weigh is determined by how much you eat in comparison to how much you burn.

Most people that gain weight don’t realize that they’re eating too much until it’s too late. That’s not to say that they’re not making a choice, only that they’re not initially realizing they’re making a choice.

Take me for example. In high school I was a swimmer, I was in the water 18 hours a week. When I was at home I drank a ton of coke and engorged myself on Oatmeal Creme Pies. I was so skinny in high school, but fairly muscular at the same time.

I went to college and stopped swimming. For the first year I stayed fit looking. The second year I drank a 12 pack of wild cherry pepsi a day. I got overweight. It happened slowly. I didn’t really even realize it, until one of my old swimming coaches teased me about it.

I chose to not exercise and I chose to consume too much. I didn’t realize I was going to gain all that weight.

I lost the weight by quitting soda altogether and exercising a lot.

I gained weight again by eating a lot of ice cream and stopping exercise after my wife got pregnant. (I’m not blaming her).

Again, I chose to eat too much, and I chose to stop exercising and I chose to help my wife. I didn’t chose to be overweight, it was a side effect of my choices.

I lost that weight by taking up running and giving up ice cream.

Generally, people gain weight when they prioritize eating too much and don’t prioritize movement.

It’s not about choosing a particular body type when you’re gaining weight, it’s about choosing comfort and sedentary behavior over eating in moderation and being aware of how much your body actually needs.

Obviously there are cases where there are hormonal problems that make it difficult for people to lose weight. They could still lose weight, if they eat less, it’s just increasingly difficult for them to do it, especially if they depend on terrible metrics like the BMR estimates that you find on websites. They might have issues losing weight, but it usually means that they have to eat even less.

Do they choose to be overweight, though?

Most people aren’t choosing to be overweight.

They’re just making poor eating choices that lead them to be overweight.

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