Flyer Friday – the fit and fat edition

I got my first holiday greeting card in the mail this week. From Domino’s. Also came with certificates, so ahead! Yum Factor 7!

I also received adverts for U weight loss clinics. Two of them. The Guilt Patrol is keeping tabs on me…

Last Friday I had a heck of a day at work. It was frenzied and busy and by 4:00 I was craving some serious junk. I told a casual worker that I was considering getting a pizza after work. This same worker said she’s lost 80 pounds via Curves so I got stuck hearing her moan and whine about how much she’d like pizza but… fill in whatever standard line fits. Yesterday, there was cake to celebrate a maternity leave and the same woman didn’t even slice a slice in half. She just ate an apple.

Now, part of me admires her steadfast dedication but the rest of me rolls my eyes.

The real question might be, why?

I don’t have an answer. Not one that wouldn’t come across all whiny and self-obsessed, anyway. I do enough of those posts already.

Last time I was in the grocery store, I was struck anew with the irony of advertising for women. I forget what rag it was, but they had a woman on the cover, grinning ear to ear, and wearing jeans that two of her would fit into. That’s a common photo shoot for those magazines, I think. The headline announced in bold colourful type just how much weight she lost and how anyone else could do it too, by following whatever diet or suppliment was the fad du jour. Next to that, a photo of a turkey dinner or big dessert spread with a promise that all instructions were inside to create just as big a majesty for your own dinner table and feed your family and friends to bursting.

Big pants. Little woman smiling. Big feast. Some “Lose 20 pounds in 10 days!” enticement in the lower corner. Tantalizing treat up where the price is.

Can you mix up the messages any more? I think there’s something sensibly healthy on page 53. Hurry up and add some confusion before we print it…

Small wonder women have weight issues.

I think part of the problem boils down to how people relate to weight. I’ve heard people say, “If I ever get that fat, shoot me.” Obviously they fear being stigmatized because of their shape or fitness level and cope by stigmatizing others. I was insulted because of my weight through much of school. Is it a big surprise to admit that the taunts didn’t encourage me to lose any weight? They made me want to hide in my room and gorge on frozen gingerbread.

I think, too, that more emphasis needs to be put on nutrition from an early age. As soon as a kid understands language, he or she should be learning what’s good to eat and be encouraged to eat them. There are a lot of healthy choices but sometimes not even the parents have any real clue about how food fuels the body. They’re hardly in a good position to train and encourage their kids into following good healthy eating patterns if they don’t understand portions and fiber and whatever else is required. It’s too easy to cave and serve Zoodles every day.

Also, fitness needs more encouragement. All too often it becomes used as a punishment for gaining a pound or two, when it really needs to be promoted as an automatic thing you do as part of your routine every day. Worry less about pant size and focus on cardiovascular strength, endurance, train and educate and show how useful it is to be flexible and energetic. Figure out a way to make kids want fitness and health as much as they want a new game system or tech gadget.

I think health and fitness need to be more fun for adults, too. I also think there should be more free alternatives to gyms and rec centers. Not everyone can afford membership fees or live close enough to attend a class four or five times a week.

It’s not Domino’s fault I’m a tub of lard. I could make my mind up at any moment to change how I eat and how I organize my day so I can make space for exercise. Anybody can. So why don’t we?

Is willpower a real thing or do people just like to accuse us of having none for the reason we’re so fat? “You know, I quit smoking cold turkey..” Okay, good for you. People can’t quit eating, though. Not if they want to live. “How did I raise such a fat daughter?” Hell if I know. It’s not always a mother’s fault. There isn’t a fat body on Mom’s side. Dad’s though… no wondering if I was switched at birth here.

But, weight loss doesn’t automatically lead to better health.

Genetic predisposition aside, it turns out that the most common advice for reducing fatness has made things worse. Research published over fifty years ago demonstrated how and why even a moderately restrictive diet is counterproductive for long term weight loss. New studies bear this out: weight can be lost on virtually any contrived plan to restrict calories or food groups, but between 85% and 95% of this weight is predictably regained, with over half of all dieters gaining more weight than they lost. If you doubt this, check the National Institute of Health for the data, then check your own observations to consider how many people you know who have gone on a diet once. If dieting was effective why would it be a perennial activity, and why would most dieters be fatter today than before their first diet?

I find myself wondering – if I hadn’t felt embarrassed in grade 12 to do something about my weight, would I be thinner now? I dropped 50 pounds before grad which I gained back, and then some. Would I be better off if I hadn’t? Yo-yo dieting is incredibly unhealthy and studies do show that the majority of dieters are unable to keep the weight off.

It is troubling that so few leaders in health care cannot see the forest for the trees: that shifting the focus to how we live rather than what we weigh is an effective solution that empowers all people of every size and shape to be the best they can be. Who could argue that a fit and well-fed populous of diverse sized people would not be preferable to the status quo? Campaigns to support the development of healthy, realistic body images, wholesome, stable eating, and lifetime fitness habits regardless of shape, size, or weight could eliminate much of our population’s “weight problem.”

Which is kind of what I was saying, but done better. Less emphasis on everyone fitting in the same category. There are so many different body types so why would anyone think we can all look like Twiggy, or Brooke Shields or Cindy Crawford? I don’t care for their latest book at all, but Trinny and Susannah at least recognize that bodies vary in size and shape from a fashion standpoint. Clothes that suit one shape won’t fit another. So why should one group’s assumption of the “perfect body” mean everyone has to try and fit into it when it’s clearly impossible to do without major surgery?

Aim for good health. Aim for fitness. Don’t be scared of a treat once in a while, but don’t make the treat the every day occurrence. It ceases to become a treat that way and more like a way of life.

Which is one of the reasons I never did order pizza last week.

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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1 Response to Flyer Friday – the fit and fat edition

  1. Joe says:

    My most difficult problem to overcome has always been motivation. It’s easy to start dieting but to keep on it is another issue all together.

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