August 27, 2010

Weight Loss is About Fitting In (Part Deux)

Okay, I'm back and very excited to chew the..."fat" (sorry, had to be done).

I hope you have had some time to digest the last submission regarding fat and health. When I suggest this to people the response I usually get is a quote from the doctor or nutritionist / health practitioner but the bottom line is the research.  I have not only read many books on the subject, but I have pulled the research cited in these books to look at it myself. I'm not one to pull a message out of a book and run with it unless I have seen the literature it is based on (my old friends in Victoria used to hate that about me, I'm sure).

So why, then, do we base so many industries on fat loss? We have the fitness industry; classes to tone, shape, and remove those unsightly bulges so you can enjoy the benefits of a beach body. We have the health industry; pushing drugs and powders and detox diets that will rid the body of all those pesky toxins that impede our weight loss.  We have the medical industry; again with the pills, the surgery, the doctors staring down their noses at the unsightly rolls before them (covered, of course, by that sexy and very fashionable blue sheet of paper they give you before your exam - bless their pointy little heads).  Let's not forget the media who, during almost every newscast, reports the latest disease due to being fat underlying the epidemic we all face.  Could you imagine if the mainstream belief represented the research? Would we really pursue an overweight physique in the name of good health? Absolutely not! Not with the social representation of beauty the way it is today.  Even if the belief was that it was good for our health to carry extra weight, we would still eat our peas one by one (Seinfeld reference), and put ourselves through gruelling workouts for the look of fit, strong, youthful, and...of course, "healthy".

The truth is, we all want to loose weight to fit in with the crowd. If the girl in the magazine represents beauty and she is thin, shouldn't we be thin if we want to be beautiful? I know you may be yelling at me at this point and saying that isn't you, but I challenge that (in the most respectful way) by saying that we are all socialized by the industry of beauty in some way. I understand there are many people (on Oprah) who stand up and say they are happy with their bodies; I just wonder what goes on inside their heads after the statement is made. I mean, I have heard many (if not most) "overweight" celebrities such as Queen Latifa, Drew Barrymore, Jessica Simpson, and Jennifer Hudson talk about how happy they are with their bodies (loving their curves) and then two seconds later, they are celebrating their weight loss on the cover of People.

We are all human and we are all prone to influence. It is perfectly OK to admit that you want to fit in, get noticed, and look good naked but another if you are saying you are happy only to go home and make love to a tub of Cookies 'n Cream (not that there is anything wrong with that). I have worked with many individuals through my research and my job who, state their weight loss motives are for health, but...when pressed, they really just want to look good. I have interviewed many "overweight" and "obese" women who demonstrate heart breaking sadness over their appearance. Their desperation is so great that they will do anything to loose it (just look at the humiliation the "Biggest Losers" go through for their battle of the bulge).

Just think about it. How are you influenced by our crazy definition of "beauty"? For me, being a fitness leader most of my life, I was completely socialized to believe "fit" looked a certain way. I am working very hard at challenging these beliefs, but they still pop up from time to time. They still influence my eating habits, my exercise habits, and how I dress.

So that's all I have to say...about that (Forest Gump). If you do have a comment or would like to challenge me in any way, I completely invite it. I never make the claim of being right (just opinionated) and would appreciate opposing views on the subject.

Have a great weekend.

By the way, this fabulous artwork I have displayed on my posts is from Fernando Botero. I'm a big fan!

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