So, most of us at some point in our lives have thought “I need to lose a few pounds!” but what if you had more than a few pounds to lose? What if you felt ok, seemed to cope with the extra weight, how important is it to get down to a healthy BMI?
We are all conditioned to think, to believe, that being overweight is a really BAD thing but what if it wasnt? What if you were fit, healthy but had a high BMI? Do you still need to start counting calories and losing weight?
Recent research suggest that perhaps it is possible to be overweight but still healthy and that being overweight per se isn’t the evil that we have been taught to believe, the key it appears, is to be fit and healthy. Check out this article from the BBC and let me know what you think?
We all know that there is a recognised epidemic of obesity across the western world that shows no signs of diminishing and yet we have never had such amazing access to fresh food from around the world, we have access to more information than ever from the internet and we can access health, fitness and exercise information 24/7.
So what happened to us all and why, despite better education, better nutrition and better health care are so many of us overweight, obese and sick?
I’ve been thinking more and more lately about healthy eating, diets and weight loss, the information overload we are all exposed to and the continual exploitation by the media of people’s worries, fears and insecurities.
Watching a late night repeat of a Biggest Loser winner who had put most of his weight back on and has now lost it again reminded me of all the things I dislike so intensely about that programme and others in a similar vein (the USA version of Obese a Year to Save my Life being another), namely that anyone can lose weight in a severely restricted, controlled environment – in fact it would be hard NOT to lose weight when you have to completely suspend your real life and your decisions about food and exercise are completely taken away from you. The hard part is always losing weight or maintaining the loss whilst living a normal life, making everyday family decisions over food and dealing with normal life stress.
My complaint has always been that programmes like this and magazines publishing some z-list celebrity weight loss story only ever tell half a story and an airbrushed, edited, highly selective story at that. They simply don’t provide people with the real knowledge to make healthy choices and healthy decisions. So, what happens? People expect to lose weight overnight and are disappointed and demoralised when they don’t and those that do, often lose the weight on a restrictive diet and are surprised that it all goes back on again when they resort to their old eating habits.
There is so much information available to us all these days; we are bombarded by newspapers and magazines extolling the virtue of the latest diet or fitness plan endorsed by some super skinny celeb, there are TV programmes on almost every day with tales of obese / morbidly obese people who went on drastic diets / had gastric bypass etc and you only have to type in ‘diet book’ into Amazon to get 47,285 results! And all of that is before we search the net (Google search for diet reveals 589, 000 000) or speak to family and friends!
In short, everyone has an opinion on diets, weight loss, exercise etc and no one is backwards at coming forwards – we all cant wait to tell our friends when we manage to lose some weight and how we did it and we are all equally as quick to say that something didn’t work and it was a waste of time!
But what is a healthy way to lose weight, what is a healthy diet and what is healthy for me, is that right for you?
Ok, so after my complaints at the media and the portrayal of weight loss, I thought I would at least address the balance a little.
I mentioned previously Jessie Pavelka and the Sky TV show “Obese, a year to save my life” and whilst I didn’t necessarily agree with some of the editing or the portrayal of those taking part, I did find Jessie Pavelka interesting (yes that does mean interesting in a ‘ooh look he’s taking his shirt off again kind of way’!) and inspiring. So, take a look at his blog and the message he has posted about extreme weight loss;
“… we are all human and we all want the same thing: to be happy and to be fulfilled. I can promise you this, if you think for one second that going back to where you were will give you those feelings, you are gravely mistaken. You will soon find that all you where doing was covering up the truth….”
“…never give up, never be too afraid, too complacent, too closed up…”
I think many of us can take his sentiments on board and apply them to our own lives. Never give up. Never be too afraid. Never be too complacent. Never be too closed up. We all have the capacity to change, today, tomorrow, next week whenever and we don’t need to accept that where we are right now is where we will stay – grab hold of your life today and make one simple change and see where it takes you….there is a whole world of possibilities out there!
One of my pet gripes is with the continual somewhat exploitative media around obesity and weight loss. I understand that this is serious issue in today’s modern society but the unrealistic way in which these issues are portrayed, the gratuitous exposing camera angles and the high levels of emotion (just make sure they cry on camera seems to be the message!) just continue to perpetuate the myths around weight loss and fitness.
The Biggest Loser is, in my own opinion, one of the worst culprits, continually focussed on losing pounds without any of the explanations behind why any of the “contestants” – lets not forget this is an old-fashioned reality competition – are on specific diets, how their exercise routines are worked out or how much warm up, stretching etc goes on behind the scenes. All we get to see are humiliating intense routines where someone always has to fail, public weigh ins and eviction for those who don’t do well enough. Whilst, for those who take part it may seem like an extreme but effective way to lose the weight, I would question how many of those people are happy with the way in which they are portrayed on camera.
So, if it’s all about too much of everything what is the answer?
If we all have too much information and that itself if part of the problem how do we help people get fit, lose weight, live healthier, happier lives?
People do, generally, have a vague idea of what they need to do to lose weight or get fit. I’m not saying everyone understands it all in great detail; many simply won’t understand all the data or even care how many grams of protein they should eat, whether carbs are good or bad and what constitutes good exercise BUT most people have a sense that they need to eat a bit healthier, eat or drink a bit less, move a bit more etc.
So what stops them doing that? If people know the basics why don’t they do it? If there has never been a better time to find out information from the internet, the media, social networking etc. and it has never been easier to track down healthy foods from the vast number of products in any supermarket why isn’t the population slim, fit and healthy? Why is obesity increasing and why do people find it so hard to stick at any “diet” plan that they start?