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What Is Probesity? The Normalization of Morbid Obesity

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Former ACE-certified personal trainer Lorra Garrick has trained men & women for fat loss, muscle building, more strength and more fitness.


There is too much probesity going on these days – the opposite of the pro-ana (pro-anorexia nervosa) movement. Probesity is the normalization of significant overweight.

There’s a big difference between pushing the idea of self-confidence no matter what your size and that of preaching that morbidly obese people can be healthy, strong and fit, as though being morbidly overweight is medically normal.

Probesity Is Dangerous

It’s just as dangerous as pro-ana. Some body positive influencers of generous size have posted to just go ahead and have that third donut, that dieting is necessarily toxic, and that exercise shouldn’t be scheduled.

The probesity movement is replete with women insisting that morbidly obese people can be healthy. They back this up by pointing out that skinny people die from heart attacks, have bypass surgery for blocked arteries and suffer from strokes.

What the probesity camp fails to point out, though, is that these ailments have many causes and associated factors that are extremely prevalent in the general population.


Bopo influencers and followers also point out that thin people get type 2 diabetes. Why don’t they ask their doctors what percentage of people, upon being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, are at least 50 pounds overweight? The answer will surprise them.

Plus-size influencers and followers will also note that fat means strong. As a former personal trainer, I’ll admit that there’s some truth to this.

My hefty clients, when compared to thinner clients of equal strength training experience and age bracket, were often (NOT always) able to pull more weight in the seated row and lat pull-down exercises. They also tended to be able to use more weight for the seated chest press and leg press.

One of my female middle-age clients weighed 220 and, from the get-go, was able to pull a good amount of weight on the machines.

But she still couldn’t garden or do housework without suffering from aches and pains – namely in her knees and back. She also struggled to keep up on family hikes. Over time with her scheduled twice-weekly training, these issues were eliminated. So were 30 pounds.

A lot of excess fatty lower-body mass can help stabilize a person while she squats with a heavy barbell across her back or lifts a heavy barbell off the floor and then over her head.

But an impressively heavy barbell squat and clean-and-press does not, in and of itself, mean that a person is healthy and fit – though it DOES mean that she or he is indeed, quite strong. Do not confuse “healthy” and “fit” with “strong.”

Thinner people, too, can have strength that you’d never expect of them, while I’ve also had overweight male clients quickly fatigue with overhead presses of only 30 pounds.

Bottom line: When plus-size people who do not strength train announce that “fat” means “strong,” this must be taken with a huge grain of salt (pardon the cliché).

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Becoming Habituated to Obesity

Just like a tinnitus sufferer may become habituated (desensitized) to the ringing in their ears, a morbidly obese person may become habituated to the weight of his or her body.

After all, nobody becomes very heavy overnight. Thus, the evolving habituation is not noticeable. But when people lose large amounts of weight, they then realize just how crummy they had actually felt before the significant weight loss.

How can any morbidly obese influencer or follower really believe that they wouldn’t be a LOT healthier and feel so much better (especially after rigorous yardwork or a lengthy walk in the heat) if they safely dropped 100 pounds?

Obesity is not a healthy state for the body to be in just because thin smokers who don’t exercise are getting hit with heart attacks and strokes.

The human skeletal system was not designed to support massive amounts of weight. The bones of a 330 pound woman would have the same circumference if she were 150 pounds.

Though the bones of obese men and women tend to be denser than those of thin people – who do not engage in heavy, intense weightlifting – the oversized person’s musculoskeletal system is still not able to efficiently support all the weight. This is why as such an individual gets closer to 40 (if not sooner), the effects of all that weight will start kicking in.

Another issue with probesity is that some followers think that if you’re in a program to lose weight and reshape your body, you must not love yourself. This is just plain nuts.

The Madness Is Unbelievable

For instance, someone commented on bopo influencer Tess Holliday’s Instagram that she appeared to be losing weight and asked if this meant she was no longer body positive.

According to that whacked line of logic -- lean, sculpted people who train hard at gyms must loathe themselves.

If you’re obese, especially at the morbid level, do not let anyone brainwash you into believing that making improvements via exercise and healthier eating is a sign of body negativity.

ALL people, regardless of their size, should strength train, do aerobics and have a very healthy diet of mostly natural, plant-based foods.

If you’re still confused by what all those bopo Instagram stars are preaching, then ask your primary care physician what your body weight should be. And nobody says you can’t ever eat donuts anymore. But controlling portions and being mindful of your food intake are certainly not signs of body negativity.


Lorri G (author) on August 19, 2019:

Yes -- "probesity" is the new word I coined. Hope it catches on.

RTalloni on August 19, 2019:

Thank you for this post. It is about time people realized how damaging the problem is. Probesity is a new word to me but the concept has been bothering me for a long time. The idea that obesity is a good thing on any level is incredible.

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