1.9 Billion People.
That’s all it is. Just a mere 25% of the world’s population.
It’s not actually that much. Not so much that it can’t be changed, turned around, reversed – given the right set of circumstances. These are the people all over the world that are overweight or obese – according to WHO.
Once upon a time, I decided that I was going to solve that problem. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life – but I can tell you when I first said it out loud to another human. It was January 2016 or maybe 2015 and I was doing some work on the West Coast for MadLab Group – and the question came up – Why?
Why do you do this?
Why do you work so hard? For so little?
Why didn’t you become a doctor?
After my usual canned responses – “I just like to help people” “I’d rather prevent a heart attack than treat one” blah blah blah – my team mate kept digging – and I finally spit it out “I want to cure obesity”. And that was it. I said it. Out loud. To another human. I had known for some time prior to saying it out loud that this is what I was driving towards. A few years maybe. But that was the first time I said it out loud. I was 30.
There it hung – my words, my passion, my truth – just sitting there out in the open for everyone to see. It was only myself and one other person, my interrogator, in a garage outside San Francisco sitting on some plastic chairs – but I felt like I had just bared my naked soul to the entire world to be judged.
I started to embrace it as my truth, this outlandish goal. Now that it was out there in the world, it became more real and started to grow in earnest.
But then something happened. I got off track – I let my personal suffering get in the way of my success.
There were a number of things that happened – not just one thing, but a few big things, all at once.
I used to love to wear clothes in the kind of green that the military uses. I always loved how it made my eyes sparkle.
I was told I wasn’t allowed to wear that colour anymore. That it was his colour. Not mine. I hadn’t earned it, who did I think I was to wear that colour? Consider that example a typical and shallow example of what an abusive relationship looks like.
My marriage crumbled around me as the veil over my eyes was lifted and I realized the abuse that I was subjected to. I was left pregnant and alone with our two older children when I realized my husband had moved on – without having the decency to tell me.
But that’s not what I’m writing about today. I’m not writing about the sadness, the struggle, the confusion. 6 weeks after I ended my marriage for good, my cousin died. 4 months after that my oldest and closet friend died. Then my longest employee – who was like family – then he died too. Then my baby was born.
Over the course of 9 months I fought with the darkness that tragedy brings while I grew a life inside me. Dealing with Life and Death has way of putting things into perspective.
But that’s not what I’m writing about today. Because everyone has their struggles – we all experience the truth of suffering. But I let my struggles get me off track. I lost faith in myself.
When I decided that I was going to fight against obesity (globesity) it was because I faced the darkness – like so many of my generation have – and it stares right back at you. It is consuming. It is all there is and nothing all at once and it will overwhelm you if you let it.
Let’s face it – the world is not a fantastic place. We have our own individual suffering – but there’s also war, poverty, climate change, plastic in the oceans that chokes the seas, cancer – the list goes on. We have ruined ourselves. Humanity is a gluttonous, angry beast that consumes and destroys without regard for itself or our earth. This is the root of my depression.
My generation has the highest rate of mental illness ever. Look around – is it really that hard to see why?
I decided that the only way out was through. The only way to fight against the darkness is to know that every day I do everything I can to prevent it – there will always be suffering that is unavoidable, but I choose to fight against what I can control, that which can be prevented.
Someone once said to me – you can’t fight against everything. It’s true. That would be ineffective.
So I picked one. I picked Globesity. Sometimes the other ones overwhelm me – homelessness sucks and climate change hurts – but I know I can’t fight them all. Just pick one. So I drive a hybrid and I give to Prim – our local homeless guy – water, sandwiches and sometime I stop to chat just to give him someone to talk to.
Over the years I’ve honed in on my passion – curing obesity is simple to understand and I’ve found that people generally want to get behind it. My goal took shape more and more through my work – people are attracted to passion. I constantly found myself in positions where I had the ability to make change – and I pushed for that change with every chance I get.
So here I find myself.
10+ years after embracing that the world is a shitty place and I had to do something about it.
6 or so years after knowing that how I was going to change the world is by solving the obesity epidemic – the WHO has dubbed “Globesity”
3ish years after first saying it out loud to another human.
And this is the first time I ever wrote it down.
In the past 13 years I’ve gotten an education. I learned how to run businesses. I found CrossFit, then MadLab. I learned about nutrition. I learned about the healthcare system. I’ve created opportunities for myself to do SOMETHING about this problem.
I’ve found that the more I put it out there – however scary it might be – the more the universe reciprocates.
So I’m writing it down and putting it out there.
This post isn’t about my growth, or my struggles, my losses – I have three beautiful children, I’m fortunate enough to have a job that pays me to save the world, and I’m a lucky Torontoian who actually owns a home. I’m grateful and I love my life.
This post is for clarity.
The world is a terrible place. There are things we can control and things we can’t. The things we can’t control will always be there – but there are things that we can fix that will make the world less terrible. As a proper millennial, if I’m not actively working toward making the world a better place, I get depressed. As a single Mom, my kids need me to be fucking awesome all the time – I don’t have time to be depressed. So I picked a fight with obesity. I got off track for a year or so when the world beat me up a bit – admittedly, my confidence took a hit. I was still working on saving the world (fighting obesity is indirectly my day job), but I wasn’t being systematic about it.
So here it is, with perfect clarity. 1.9 Billion people around the world are overweight or obese. It’s not their fault – although it is their responsibility – but it is not their fault. Economics, shift in labour forces, outdated nutrition information, the internet, lack of real, genuine relationships, a reactive health care industry, and a fitness industry that is collapsing on itself – to name a few causes is why. There Is no real solution. At least, not that 1.9 Billion people know about.
1.9 Billion people and increasing every year – except that my day job is to save the world by fighting obesity. So far, we have about 30,000 clients that are not going to contribute anymore to that 1.9 Billion. That’s a pretty great start.
No more getting of track or distracted – this is real and it’s happening now. I’m going to solve the obesity problem and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Thirty thousand down – one billion, eight hundred ninety-nine million, nine hundred and seventy thousand to go!