It’s February. New Year’s resolutions have been shelved as guilt settles in to each sedentary day. We’re reminded of our lost commitments as weight loss programs dominate advertising space on television, magazines and in our head. It’s the time of year when we wished we had held tight to our resolutions, but as history shows, other priorities have strong-armed healthy intentions. All is not lost, however; there are things to consider before you get back on the horse and ride your way into the healthy living sunset.
Most people abandon their resolutions when the vision of becoming a picture perfect eater and exerciser slowly fades into the sea of lost hope. The vision unfortunately excluded the reality of a job, family and unexpected challenges that naturally occur in life. If you’re feeling frustrated, depressed or guilt-ridden about letting your healthy intentions slide, let it go. Years ago, I abandoned the notion that I could be a super woman. Though the idea of doing it all left me excited, the actual act of doing it all left me exhausted. I realized that the best way to stay on top of my health and balance it with my busy life was looking reality in the eye and accepting that my best was good enough.
Every time someone comes to me Jan. 1 to share their litany of healthy living resolutions, I have to stop them. Although the intentions are admirable, the likelihood of long-term commitment to the changes is just not going to happen. How can anyone expect to go from inactivity and fast food runs daily to workouts seven days a week and a completely vegan diet? It’s just not realistic. What is realistic is standing back, taking a look at your life and implementing a beginners program. Most people implement an advanced athletes program and wonder why they can’t stick with it.
When I decided to lose 50 pounds, I was a slug. A crunchy burrito was my favorite food. I also thought Cheetos were a healthy alternative to chips. They’re so colorful! Clearly, deciding to dump junk food and begin exercising was a daunting proposition, but I knew there wasn’t an alternative. Well, I suppose there was, but that wasn’t the choice my health could afford. Thirty-plus years later, I’m so glad I let my health rule my decision; it turned out to be a good one.
So where are you today? Where do you want to be tomorrow? When you look at the resolutions that you made, were they a bit overzealous? Remember, it likely has taken you many years to develop bad habits, so you need to make the same consideration when developing new, healthier habits.
The first step to getting back on track is to start off slow. Instead of saying you’re going to work out seven days a week, why not start with two days? After you stick with that for a month, either add on time or another day. Ultimately, and I mean ultimately, not immediately, you will get to a point where you will walk further or run, or bike ride or swim more often. Getting started can’t be overwhelming, or it will lack staying power. You must consider your lifestyle and limitations when planning your program. Healthy living motto: Be realistic!
Next, food. Once an ally now an enemy and that’s the problem. The more you “fight” weight, “beat” weight loss, join the “weight loss battle” it’s a negative journey. Rethink the meaning of food and what purpose food serves. Simply put, food allows our body to function properly, period. But we’ve starved it, teased it with fake food, binged on junk food and been ashamed of the body it’s created — thus the breakup between us and food. Food needs to be viewed differently. Not for a diet but for sustenance. Not for weight loss but for health gains. Not for mindless eating but for mindful eating. Not for distension but for prevention. The minute you can select foods that will encourage good health, the battle, the fight, the war will likely end.
I encourage you to consider “getting back together” with healthy food choices and start an exercise program off slowly. You’ll likely be more successful in your efforts. But don’t get too comfortable. As you improve your activity, find new and fun things to add on to keep it interesting.
Celebrate your successes and recognize when you’ve accomplished something great. For some that may be a walk around the block to start. As for food, the Internet has a wealth of resources for cooking healthy. Stick as closely as you can to whole foods, less boxed. Spend more time cooking at home versus spending time at the drive-through. It can be done, but it has to be done slowly and respectfully.
Rome wasn’t built in a day nor should a healthy body be expected to. It takes time, dedication and a solid dose of reality. Do what you can today to contribute to a healthier you tomorrow. And that my friends is the secret to securing those resolutions.
Here's to your good health!
(Reprinted from February 21, 2012 edition of The Naperville Sun)
You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running." This quote was shared with me by a student in a spinning class that I recently visited for my newspaper column. Gil, who's smile is contagious, was a walking motivational quote. Another of his favorites, "You're never too old to be who you might have been!" No doubt, proof of the influence that this spin class has had on his life.
This week I had the privilege and I mean privilege of visiting a spin class for students 55 and up. I was blown away by the energy, dedication and clear disregard of age. All the students agreed, "Age is nothing more than a number." I have seen classes with much younger students that didn't exude the enthusiasm that this group of "Spinners" did. After I interviewed the students and instructor, I was reminded of how many people dismiss exercise and something "for the young" when in fact, it's more important than ever, especially as we age.
The oldest student in the class was 80 and when she's not spinning at her exercise class, she's outside riding her bike. Another inspiring student was Dollie, in her 70's who sported faux leather bike pants and hopped on her bike with the ease of someone 30 years her junior.
For those of you that blow off exercise with the myriad of reasons that exist, think again. After watching this group pedal through their hip replacements, cancer, strokes, heart attacks and loss of a spouse, I truly believe there isn't an excuse in the world that one of these students would buy. So the next time you think you're too old or too busy or too sick to exercise, think again. It all begins with "I can."
This morning while I was doing my run on my treadmill (-5 makes outside running no fun for me), I was channel checking and came across the Oprah show. She had Jennifer Hudson on her show so I stayed glued as I listened to her weight loss story. Jennifer shared how she's lost her weight and even included some family members that have experienced their own weight loss success. Jennifer has found success with Weight Watchers, but beyond that Jennifer has found success through a strong support network and most important she is making her exercise FUN! It was a great show because it discussed the natural challenges that come with weight loss as well as the importance of taking it slow, believing you can change and having a strong support system.
So last night, I was thrilled when I hosted my monthly 6-Week Weight Loss Challenge and had a guest speaker, Diane Mayr who is one of our clients that has been through the challenge. She told her story to the group of people coming to learn more about our 6-Week program. When Diane started sharing her story, going back to before she started with the challenge, I was blown away. Even though I've been working with Diane since October, hearing her story, reminded me once again of her transformation. I must admit, that our 6-Week Weight Loss Challenge has been an amazing success, but when you hear individual stories, you're reminded why HEALTHY weight loss is the only way to go.
Diane shared that to date, (it's been 16 weeks) she has lost a total of 30 pounds. When she came to me she was using a cane to walk because her knees were so bad. She said, "I can skip up a flight of stairs now." She shared how she has learned to LIVE healthy not diet. Her husband joined her and shared what he has witnessed with Diane and how proud he is of her. She chalks up having support and journaling as key ingredients to long term success, much like Hudson has. But above and beyond Diane's moving story, the 2 things that she pointed out that really are key with any program, "You have to be ready. You cannot change if you're not ready. You can do anything for 3 or 4 weeks like I did and lose a little bit of weight, but if you want REAL change, you have to be willing to make some hard decisions. As for my exercise, Nicki gives me new things to do all the time, so I haven't gotten bored like I did with other programs. When boredom sets in, I quit."
At the end of the day, whatever route to take to discover the healthiest you, you must be ready to make changes. You must take the path that makes the most sense for you and one that you know you'll continue. With Jennifer Hudson's program and Diane's program, they both found a solid support system, they were ready to change and they made exercise fun.
There really isn't a miracle "diet" out there, it's just the willingness to change and the determination and committment to be your best. Are you ready for change?
Congratulations Diane, we at Reality fitness are SO proud of you. By the way, I will be sharing other success stories from our clients. So far our program has helped our clients lose over 130 pounds (the numbers keep going up and the success stories keep coming. How exciting is that?)
Let me say right up front, Celiac Disease IS real and does affect almost 3 million Americans according to the University of Chicago, Celiac Disease Center. Those that have it do suffer. In some cases, many are not even diagnosed for up to four years. However, given that 3 million Americans suffer with Celiac, that is still only slightly more than 1% of the American population. Yet, gluten-free products have increased 74% from 2004-2009.
So here's my beef with the whole Gluten-Free thing. Do you remember back in the latter 80's and early 90's the surge in popularity of Oat Bran? It was everywhere and touted as the new solution to reducing cholesterol. How about the early 80's, when Fat-free products took over most pantry's and refrigerators in households across the country. And then of course, there was a new found love for many in rice, pasta and bread, why? Because they were low in fat. You could eat as much as you wanted. Yet just 20 years later, eating a slice of bread was weight loss suicide. So many trends and where are we today? Fatter than we've ever been, less healthy than we've ever been and now Gluten-free is the new black. Everyone has been led to believe (ahh the world of marketing) that gluten-free is the answer to their weight issues. 'Sigh' here we go again.
According to Mark Bittman's book, Food Matters, "A study from the University of California at Berkley, reports that almost one-third of Americans' total caloric intake comes from 'nutrient poor' foods like sweets, salty snacks and fruit drinks. 7% of our calories come from soda-more than from vegetables- with hamburgers, pizza, pastries and potato chips following close behind." Gluten-free has it's share of sweets, salty-snacks, etc. But hey, they're gluten-free, it's all good, right? Hardly. You see, people are forever seeking out the "secret" to weight loss and gluten-free appears to be the next "golden ticket" to the world of weight loss. But in truth, Gluten-free was never intended for weight loss, in fact in some instances, calories are higher. But the real crux of my issue is that just like Fat-Free and carb-free, gluten-free products include a wide variety of cookies, cakes, chips, etc. that are flying off the shelves. Do you see where I'm going here? I don't care WHAT diet you're on, if you're eating the 100 calorie snack pack, the fat-free muffin, the oat bran cereal, the gluten free sugar cookies, IT'S STILL CONTRIBUTING TO AN UNHEALTHY BODY, no matter how you slice it.
Weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight does not come from eating fat-free, carb-free, or gluten-free. It comes from eating more vegetables than processed grains, it comes from eating more fruits that "fun fruits" (plastic fun pretending to be healthy). Weight loss comes from eating high quality foods that the body processes normally. Smaller portions, decreased fast-food and processed foods all contribute to a healthy weight. Another quote from Bittman's book, "1 Billion people in the world are chronically hungry, 1 Billion are overweight."
Gluten-free is not the answer to weight loss, on the contrary, it is yet another distraction in the search for a weight loss miracle. NewsFlash, there isn't one.
Since I lost my weight close to 30 years ago, I find that the biggest culprit of successful, long-term weight loss for people is unrealistic expectations. People see magazine covers or television shows, or award shows and assume that the way the models and stars of Hollywood look is the way they should look. It's unfortunate that this has become the goal for many of my clients including kids, not good.
When people are setting weight loss goals, I often remind them that the best "goal" weight is a living weight. What is a living weight? It's the amount you weigh that is sustainable, healthy and realistic. In other words, if you lose weight and have to starve yourself and exercise 24/7 simply to maintain the weight, that's not your living weight. If you find that you're constantly weighing yourself and skipping meals just to stay at your "ideal" weight, it's not your living weight. If you're constantly obsessing over your weight, it's not a living weight.
If you're in the process of or considering losing weight, it's important you keep reality at the forefront of any positive changes. Consider the following:
- Remember, if you're starving yourself to lose weight, it's not going to be sustainable.
- If you're working out for 2-3 hrs or more a day, 7 days a week, your weight loss will not be sustainable.
- If you're embarking on a dietary change, make sure that the changes you're making are manageable. Now keep in mind, most people eat too much, but gradual changes are more likely to be permanent changes vs. cutting down to 1200 cals per day.
- If you're obsessed with your weight loss and weighing yourself every day to see if you've gained back any weight, that's not a living weight.
- Living weight is all about the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time exercise most days of the week as well as eat more healthfully. 20% of the time is life, vacations, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
- Living weight is not about perfect, it's about potential. Every one has the potential to make healthy changes to achieve a healthy, living weight.
- Living weight is a reasonable weight. Remember, height and weight charts are average and miss certain variables, including one that I consider to be most important, genetics. It's not to say that if you come from family that is obese, you can't change the cycle, but if you're large boned, you have to take that in to account and not shoot for a weight that someone the same height, although small boned would weigh. It's unique for everyone.
- Living weight is not about comparing. If you're eating well most of the time, (eliminating fried and processed foods), exercising regularly, you'll be where you need to be.
Living weight is just that, striving for good health but living in the process.
Here's to YOUR living weight!
Since implementing our 6-week Weight Loss Challenge at my studio, I have really enjoyed the dramatic changes some of our clients have made and continue to make. In my 20 plus years in this business, creating this challenge is simply a culmination of all that I have learned both personally and professionally about successful, sustainable weight loss. So what is it that has made this challenge work for our clients? It's a number of things, but most important I believe is the emphasis on real life changes.
For years, people have been dieting and begrudgingly exercising all in an effort to lose weight. And one of two things happens, they either lose the weight and then go back to their previous lifestyle (which caused the weight gain to begin with) or they give up because change is not coming fast enough. Why? Because they never learn real life strategies, simply dieting strategies which is not sustainable. People need a whole different approach to weight loss. See, the thing is that people KNOW how to lose weight, but how do they sustain it? Only by learning practical strategies to change their lifestyle for good makes weight loss sustainable. It means teaching folks to be more active on a day-to-day basis in addition to formal exercise. Remember, most folks are sitting about 16 hours a day, not good. Go back a few generations when people cleaned their own homes, mowed their own lawn, walked or biked more than drove, etc. I call that active living. People MUST get back into being more active on a daily basis otherwise this horrific trend of diabetes, obesity and other weight related diseases will continue.
Next is food, look, we are a mess in this country when it comes to food. The book that best describes our food debacle is Mark Bittman's Food Matters, read it. If you don't change the way you eat after reading this book, I'd be surprised. We eat too much and too much of the wrong things. Processed foods dominate our daily intake and most people are getting their vegetables when served on a hamburger or as a garnish. People walk down the street carrying their gargantuan sugar laden or "pretend" sugar, no-foam, half-half, fat free flavor of the day coffees. It's all about quantity and rarely about quality. This needs to change and that's how I educate my clients. I tell them, "Don't say, 'No' to junk food based on just weight, say, 'No' to those foods because it's just plain bad for you. You may as well smoke a cigarette." People have GOT to be more conscious and respectful of what their body needs versus what commercials tell them they need. 95% of the clients I meet with are regularly downing copious amounts of processed, sugar laden foods. Our approach with the 6 week challenge is to simply re-think what you're putting in to your body. Diets don't teach, lifestyle changes do.
Finally, the support. I don't know about you, but before I figured out this weight thing, I did every diet in the world. But half way through the book or "class" if I had a question or felt like I was losing control, I had no one to turn to. Our program is called a 6 week challenge for a reason, change is hard, it's a challenge and striving to replace old, unhealthy habits with new healthy ones is a challenge, but we help our clients do that. We ask them questions they need to know how to answer, "So, how are you going to handle Super Bowl weekend?" "What are you going to eat on vacation?" "What are your plans when going out to eat with friends?" It's about being prepared and knowing what to do because old habits die hard.
Being successful at weight loss means getting back to basics, creating more activity in your daily life (it used to be that way naturally), eating whole, healthy foods (it used to be that way YEARS ago) and finding a solid resource for positive change. Getting back to basics, trusting what changes you know you need to make and finding the right path for you is the surest way to a healthy living weight. I'll discuss "living weight" in my next blog.
Here's to your health!
I recently started training a 14 year old girl. She's never been interested in organized sports and the idea of exercise is, well, a turnoff for her. She doesn't understand how people can 'LOVE' exercise and finds it odd that people actually do it every day. For me, I totally get it. I too was a teen that resisted exercise because it looked like too much work for something I wasn't good at. Friends of mine that were athletic, were naturally athletic. I had to work too hard to look like I sort of knew what I was doing, and failed miserably. It had a negative affect on my self esteem and only reminded me how uncoordinated I was. Athletics was was not my thing, so I stayed away from any kind of exercise because I thought being uncoordinated meant you couldn't exercise. After all, exercise was for fit people, not me.
This past week when I was working with my new client she said, "Nicki, why is exercise always taught to be so hard? When I exercise with you I feel like I'm out on the playground with my friends, it's fun." She couldn't have paid me a higher compliment. What I said to her was, "Exercise is fun, you just have to find the right activity for you. Anyway, exercise is just a formal word for moving fun!" The truth is that for everyone, moving is necessary. When I was a kid we were outside all the time playing. We didn't have access to snack food the way kids do today and we didn't have computers to entertain us the way kids do. There are more reasons for kids to sit today rather than reasons to move. We need to remind those kids that aren't athletes that moving doesn't have to be about sports. We also need to remind them of genetics and that every body is different. We need to teach them to embrace their body vs. being ashamed because they're not the same size as the latest reality star. We need to encourage kids to realize the potential of their body and that it is designed to move, they just have to find the movement that feeds their soul, increases their self-esteem and is FUN!"
Unfortunately, kids that aren't 'natural' athletes believe that they can't be active, but that thought couldn't be further from the truth. We need to make exercise fun for both kids and adults alike. I have plenty of adult clients that loathe exercise and it's my job to create an environment of fun. If they're having fun, they're going to keep coming back to it and feel good about their experience. If we put exercise in to such a structured box that it becomes exclusive, we will lose a lot of people to inactive lifestyles.
There is no better time than now to teach kids and adults that exercise (formal word for fun movement) can be fun. Create a playground in your basement, or in your backyard that includes a variety of games and activities. There is an abundance now of video games that encouragse activity including Dance, Dance, Revolution, Wii Fit and Dance Mania. If I would have known that exercise didn't have to be about going to a gym and humiliating myself through some poorly suited exercise class, or joining an organized sport, I think I would have been a lot more active. But kids and adults now have the opportunity to find FUN in exercise. As a fitness professional, that's always my goal to help them do just that!
Here's to finding fun in your fitness routine!
When I think about the millions of resolution makers, I can't help but think about those who once again look to January as the miracle month. As far back as I can remember, January has always been the "clean slate" month in that everything you've done before can somehow be magically washed away because, well, it's January.
Unfortunately, as with any undertaking, planning, prioritizing and most important, perspective are rarely part of setting resolutions. Because of this, by February 1st many well intentioned resolutions fade away and people feel that once again they have failed. So, for 2011 why not rethink the changes you want to make? Plan out your strategy and most important, make sure that it's something that's really important to you, versus something that someone tells you to do. If I had my way, these are things that I would like to see for 2011 resolutions.
For 2011, I refuse to watch another reality television show again. It takes the focus away from my reality and ironically, gives people a false sense of reality.
For 2011, I will no longer look to the internet as my main source of entertainment, rather look directly in to the eyes of my family and friends, for that is really what makes my life full and happy.
In 2011, I will do my best to stay active and eat well most of the time because diets have never served me well, mentally or physically. I vow to value my health enough to make choices that will enhance the quality of my life, I deserve that.
For 2011, I will not compare. Comparing my life, my body, my car, my house, my kids to others is an exercise is futility and rarely brings any, "ahem", resolution. If I am making choices that make sense to me and my family then really, who cares what so-and-so down the street is doing? Less external focus and more internal focus is far more productive.
In 2011, I will not allow Hollywood to determine how I should look given that 99% of them have professional shoppers, personal designers, chefs, trainers, make-up artists and well, pretty hefty paychecks. Hollywood is not real life, it is entertainment, and the more everyday folks look to emulate that lifestyle the more their life seems inconsequential.
In 2011, I will seek out positive ways to keep my mind and body healthy, i.e. surrounding myself with like-minded people, avoiding negative internal messages, try out a new activity such as Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, meditation. There is no substitute for healthy habits.
In 2011, I will wake up each morning and remind myself that, "It's great to be alive!" as shared every Friday by Lin Brehmer on WXRT.
In 2011, I will seek to laugh more, worry less and understand that options for good health and happiness are endless, I just have to be willing to seek them out.So each month, I will choose 1 positive healthy habit to develop. By the end of the year, that's a serious accumulation of healthy habits!
I wish for all of you a healthy, happy, hope-filled 2011!
Happy New Year!
The truth often lies in simplicity.
Since December 1st, my clients have been asking, “How can I possibly drop this extra weight once and for all? What diets do you suggest? What’s the quickest way to drop weight? What do you think about fasting?” And the questions go on and on.
For those of you that know me, you know that I do not nor will I ever support fad-diets, fast and easy weight loss efforts, magic formulas and 30 pounds in 30 days weight loss guarantees. I will never support anything that doesn’t teach or inspire you to focus on your health first. After all, if you’re not focused on your health, you will never make the healthy living choices necessary to not only achieve a healthy weight but achieve a healthy mindset as well. And trust me, once the mind and body develop a strong relationship, your healthy options are unending.
For many people struggling with weight, every single day is an ongoing internal conversation including, “What clothes can I wear that fit? I shouldn’t have had that Snickers bar. Look how skinny Mary is, she did that cabbage soup diet, maybe I’ll do that. I’m never wearing these pants again, they make me feel so fat. Should I eat this? Should I eat that? I know I gained weight this week. Forget it, I’m tired of being hungry, plus I don’t have that type of will power.”
I remember those conversations. I spent more time talking myself in to believing what a loser I was simply based on food choices, scale results and weight loss ads. I would think to myself, “If all those people in the “skinny fast” ads look so happy and so skinny, why can’t I do it?” And then I’d beat myself up for being so undisciplined. That was almost 30 years ago. So what have I learned that has kept the weight off and my life focused on good health? My 4 areas of focus - Color, Movement, Mindful and Support. If you want to get healthy, never diet again and attain a healthy body and life, those 4 simple rules are all you need to realize a healthy body.
Let’s think about this for moment. How many people do you know that have lost a lot of weight and then put it all (and then some) back on? What was their strategy for losing the weight? 9 times out of 10 it had nothing to do with learning life skills for good health, simply following a “diet” that structured their life so unnaturally, that ultimately they had to go back to their old unhealthy habits. Now what if you learned to eat well, move reasonably and stop thinking about every calorie or gram of fat or carb that crossed your lips? It would change your life and get you out of the “diet head” life forever.
Here are some things to think about:
Color- When you make food choices, the more color you have in your diet (diet in a healthy way), the better you will naturally eat. Remember, diets aren’t natural for most people. When you think about fruits and vegetables, there are a rainbow of color options available. Try new things, educate yourself about different fruits and vegetables and work to include more of them in your daily nutrition choices. For many people, I tell them to start gradually replacing their processed, high sugar, high carb snacks with fruits and veggies, gradually being the operative word. Remember, lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight, it’s a process.
Movement - How many of you hate to exercise, raise your hand? Yeah, most people do. But the reason is that for many people, fun and joy of movement has not often been the experience of someone whose struggled with weight for most of their life. They always felt uncoordinated, never got picked for team sports (that was me) and always exercised simply to lose weight. In other words, exercise became punishment for an imperfect body. Now tell me, where’s the impetus to exercise? Therefore, rather than thinking about conventional exercise for weight loss as we know it, think of simply movement. Ask yourself, “How can I move more every day? How can I find ways to move more and sit less? What small steps can I take today that will add up and benefit how I feel tomorrow?” Move because it’s good for you and makes you feel good and because you can. There is nothing you can’t do!
Mindful- I often tell my clients, the minute you become aware of your current lifestyle habits, the easier it will be to make gradual changes. You see, too many people try to overhaul their entire lifestyle in 6 weeks, and it typically happens January 1st. The reality is that it never works, it just doesn’t. So you have to first stand back and take a look at what needs changing, then select one thing and work on it, however long it takes to find an alternative that is healthy so be it. Then you can move on to the next change. The more time you give yourself to make healthy lifestyle changes, the more time you will have to live the life you deserve. Connecting with your body and realizing how good it feels to take care of it, because you deserve to take good care of yourself, the better your quality of life.
Support - I have found that one of the biggest obstacles for many peoples healthy living success is an unsupported environment. Look, if you’ve been hanging around people who practice the same unhealthy habits you do, you either need to commit to change together (ultimately saving each others life) or you need to find friends that support your efforts. You must find like-minded folks that can support your efforts and encourage your changes versus someone who berates you for wanting something better for yourself. Deciding to become healthy with a friend or family member that chooses not to is not betrayal, it is simply getting the jump on realizing you’ve got one life, and why not live it to it’s fullest. And remember, you can’t draw a horse to water, so don’t try to change people, simply inspire them by your actions and surround yourself with those who appreciate your dedication to your health and life.
Go ahead, make 2011 your healthiest ever!
Join me on January 5th at Reality Fitness Studios for our 6-Week Weight Loss Challenge. A great opportunity to learn the skills you need to lose weight and KEEP it off. No fads, no gimmicks just support and education. It's all you need to realize your health and fitness goals! For more information visit, www.realityfitness.com and click on, "Are you up for the challenge?"
There is no doubt that there is a prejudice against women, men and
children of size. I can speak from experience as prior to losing my
weight, I was treated differently by men, friends and perfect strangers.
Yes, I remember buying donuts and a local donut shop and having people
look at me thinking, “Like that girl needs a donut?” For me, that was a tough time especially
because it was during my teen years and while all my friends were
complaining about gaining 2 lbs. and hitting the 100 pound mark, I just
wanted to feel better. I’d just roll my eyes and wonder what it would
feel like to complain about being skinny. I was called “Bertha” as I
walked down the halls and barked at, it wasn’t pretty, in fact it was
pretty darn painful.Me at 17 years oldAt the age of 18, things changed for me. I changed my lifestyle and
yes, people’s attitudes toward me changed. Why? Because I was no longer
perceived as fat. However, the interesting thing is, I’m the same
person I was 50 pounds heavier. I laugh at the same jokes, I still love
the same dorky music and I still have feelings, I haven’t changed. Yet
somehow, people think that extra weight is some type of barrier against
pain, both emotional and physical. Additionally, they think that extra
weight immediately exempts feelings and awareness. With all the
prejudice out there, it’s amazing how people think that someone
different is immediately void of humaneness when in fact the people
pointing the finger are the ones perhaps missing some level of it.This past week there was a very hurtful, nasty, angry blog written
by Maura Kelly, a freelance writer for Marie Claire magazine. The title
of the post was, “Should ‘Fatties’ Get a Room?” The post was, in my
opinion, very unprofessional and for a brief moment, I sensed a bit of
intention, in that perhaps the blog was written to generate readership.
Just a thought, it happens. But aside from that, reading the post made
me sick to my stomach (almost as sick as when I hear the “n” word used
for my black friends or the “f” word used for my gay friends).The tone of the blog was so intense that I felt as though she was
writing to someone specific, someone that she was angry at, not to the
general population. Perhaps written to herself based on her history of
anorexia. Of course with the uproar came an apology, was it genuine? Who
knows. All I know is that the words written shall forever be part of
this writers shadow. This blog was a reminder that prejudice is still
alive and well in our country and it goes way beyond color or gender,
unfortunately.But out of bad there is always some level of good. What the blog did
do was the raise awareness about the perception about different sizes in
our world. It brought about some really great discussion about size and
acceptance, etc. I have always believed that we were not designed to
all be tall and thin. Do I want my friends and family to be healthy?
Absolutely, but health is not always determined by size as I have known
many “thin” people that lived on Diet Coke and Snickers.For years I have touted that size is not necessarily indicative of
health. Although our society has slowed down, and healthful food
offerings are not always accessible, the truth is that size has never
been an indicator of character any more than color or religion. I am a
firm believer that good health comes in all sizes and although I am
concerned with obesity related health issues, we have to get a closer
look at the numbers that really threaten our society and that is the
number of uneducated people pointing the finger at those that don’t fit
the “ideal” “.whatever that is.