Friday, December 31, 2010

Getting Our Priorities Straight

Recently one of my Twitter friends wrote a blog post about body image, diet and health. I totally understand her frustration and I agree with her to a point but I have some frustrations of my own, and I tried to comment on her post. Unfortunately, it's one of those sites that don't believe in paragraphs which makes for tough reading, plus it cut off much of my post (without telling me there was a word limit).

Anyway, you can read Brenda's article here Pretty in or Pretty Out?, then come back and read my response below.

Great post, Brenda! Now if you could get the rest of the country thinking that way. Regular exercisers who are overweight have lower risk factors for disease than sedentary stick people.

I totally agree about the bombardment of media images and their detrimental effect on us. That said, it's frustrating that so many people focus only on appearance when it comes to exercise.

I've been fighting this battle for 15 years now. The brochure for my gym says, "At Body & Soul Fitness Studio, the emphasis is on exercise as a means to improve the quality of your life." But which of my blog posts do you think get more attention- something on fat loss or something about the health benefits of physical activity?

Unfortunately, that mentality often continues even after someone sees tangible benefits from exercise. I've had women tell me they feel better since starting to work out, they're stronger, they don't get as winded, they're less stressed, their blood pressure is down, their energy is up, they sleep better, their back hurts less or not at all, they’re more patient with their kids, etc., etc., etc. and then too often comes the but. But "I haven’t lost any / much weight."

I don’t think most people in this country appreciate their health until they lose it. Sadly, too many Americans would rather take pills for diabetes or high blood pressure than make the effort to clean up their nutrition and exercise. Of course, we all know stories of someone who never smoked getting lung cancer or some healthy, active person having heart problems but most of the leading causes of death are at least partially related to our lifestyle choices. In fact, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the nine leading causes of death were strongly related to lifestyle choices: “what we put into our bodies and what we do with our bodies.”

Let me just end by saying that I’m certainly not opposed to anyone deciding to drop excess body fat, it’s a smart and healthy thing to do. I simply wish that people would start focusing on living a healthy lifestyle rather than obsessing over a number on the scale. As Jack Dixon says, "If you focus on results, you will never change. But if you focus on change, you'll get results."


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