The CDC, as recently as last year, reported that 71% of American adults are classified as either overweight or obese. Boston Medical Center states that 45 million Americans go on a diet in any given year. Annual fitness industry data suggests many of these people also join a gym, take exercise classes or purchase fitness equipment. It isn’t a stretch, therefore, to state that most Americans would like to lose weight and most of these people will try diets and exercise at least once in their lives in order to achieve weight loss.
Despite the availability of diet and exercise offerings and the willingness of people to adopt them, the numbers of the overweight and obese don’t budge. This isn’t new. The rise in American waistlines began post World War II and has accelerated exponentially each decade since the 1980s. In the meantime, there has been no shortage of nutrition and exercise studies and an ever-changing, ever-increasing body of information and products released to the public, from both government and private entities, lecturing us on what we should and shouldn’t eat and whatever we’re doing for exercise isn’t enough.
After over 50 years of this, it’s high time to admit it isn’t working. It’s time to change the focus and change the solution. The focus should not be weight or body image, it should be health and quality of life. The solution should not be a narrow-minded list of good-foods vs bad-foods or a constant monitoring of every morsel ingested. Neither should the solution be an obsessive count of every step taken or every calorie burned.
I have offered my version of a path to health and improved quality life – a fit and happier life – through my Small Steps plan. But, I am not a one-woman movement. There are many of us out here who have uncovered the weight-loss myths for ourselves and who are committed to spreading the word. We are a movement of liberation. Liberating people from the perfect body lie, the diets, the rules, the counting, the shame and the agony of pushing your physical and emotional limits for something or someone other than your own well-being.
Yet, I’m aware my reach is small and sometimes a reader may need to hear what I’m saying in a different way, coming from a different perspective to be able to really understand it and take it to heart.
So, I’m giving a shout-out today to one of my favorite sites, the health section of Refinery29, which has bloggers who are living and preaching the philosophy of the Small Steps program, albeit under their own monikers.
- Read Sophie Kreitzberg’s compelling “Weight Watchers Led to My Eating Disorder – Here’s Why” to understand why diets not only don’t work but are inherently unhealthy.
- Don’t miss Kelsey Miller’s description of her “Rational Fitness” term to understand why exercising for the goal of weight-loss instead of health sets us up for unhappiness and failure. Kelsey has her own recurring column at Refinery29 entitled “The Anti-Diet Experiment” that is chock full of intelligent, funny and meticulously researched articles.
If you’ve come out of the dark side of diets, fad workouts and the quest for skinny and into the light of fitness and health, don’t stand on the sidelines. We need an increasing army of voices and role models to counter the unhealthy body-image-centric messages from the entertainment industry, marketing campaigns, social media and an all-too-large chunk of the fitness industry. We have to do it for the health of society as a whole but, most especially, for women, who are most targeted by the false messages, and the most vulnerable among us: our girls.