Photo Credit: Tim Robberts/the image bank/getty images
There is misinformation floating around that dieting is the same thing as being healthy. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth when you are eating highly-processed, prepackaged (often microwaved) meals, drinking reconstituted protein shakes and just generally hating your body.
What do you say we decide to spend this year focusing on our health -- on keeping our bodies healthy and happy? Let’s eat smarter, exercise, treat our bodies well and forget the scales, cleanses, fasts and crash diets. Of course it’s hard when we're bombarded with weight-loss messaging all around us, but what if we did a few things to change that?
Cancel Your Magazine Subscriptions
According to the cover of some recent fitness magazines you could have done the following last year:
•Learned to eat like Carrie Underwood
•Learned to eat like Hayden Panetteire (in case eating like Carrie doesn’t work)
•Slenderized while snacking
•Achieved flat abs, lean legs and amazing arms in just one month
•Eaten your way to a flat belly
•Dropped 400 calories without noticing
•Burned 10 calories in 10 minutes
•Achieved flat abs in 4 minutes
•Learned the single best workout (which makes me wonder why they keep publishing more workouts)
•Lost 8 pounds in thirty days (not 7 or 9 or 10 -- exactly 8)
•Burned 200 calories without even working out
•Tried the #1 way to burn fat (which makes me wonder why they keep publishing more ways to burn fat)
•Achieved leaner legs and a tighter tush in 6 like-magic moves
•Stayed slim all winter (is it too late to start now?)
Studies have shown that women’s self-esteem starts to drop after 2 minutes of looking at fashion magazines. So guess what, save a tree (and your self-esteem) and cancel a subscription.
Right now my Facebook page has an ad for a bootcamp that promises it will “torch my fat” (ouch!) and my internet e-mail has an ad that asks if I’m “repulsed by my weight?” (charming). Reading blogs about health leads to seeing ads about weight loss. Reading news stories about health insurance on leads to ads about weight loss. In fact, I’m pretty sure that searching for lug wrenches leads to ads about weight loss. It’s not just ads either -- Facebook friends post about their diets, Twitter friends tweet about their diets...
You probably have to abandon the internet entirely to avoid all the messages, but if that’s not appealing try this: On Facebook, click the X on the upper right hand side of the ad and choose “hide all from [business name].” Many companies that serve ads allow you to opt-out of ads based on topic. Declare your Facebook and Twitter “Diet Free Zones” and hide any diet–related stuff. Tell your friends that you support them in reaching their goals but that your FB page is a diet talk-free zone and delete all diet-related comments. Stand up for your right to focus on your health and have a break from the $60-billion diet industry.
Wear Blinders While Driving
Billboards seem to be a place to advertise some of the most extreme diet notions -- I’m told I should get my stomach bound, have my fat frozen off with a laser, look like all the half-naked ladies selling porn, booze…insurance. Since it’s not okay to actually drive with blinders or blacked-out windows, you should come up with a mantra to focus on when you come across these depressing images. How about something easy to remember, like “a stomach is a terrible thing to amputate” and keep on trucking.
Plug Your Ears
Diet talk is an American institution. Your coworkers assign morality to their lunches (sinful dessert, guilt-free frozen meal); strangers at the grocery store comment on their chocolate laxative shakes; people think it’s okay to order a bacon double cheeseburger as long as they ask them to hold the bun, and your friends wax poetic about their various food restrictions and weight-loss attempts. You can either crank up the iPod or consider having conversations with your loved ones. Explain that one of your goals this year is to eliminate diet and weight-loss messages and truly focus on healthy habits. Ask if you can talk about something else. Smile and walk away from diet conversations around the water cooler at work.
Change Your Gym Membership
Does your gym hold cellulite seminars? Is there a challenge to try the Paleo Diet (or whatever the fad is of the moment)? Are there before-and-after pictures everywhere suggesting that the only way to succeed at the gym is to change your dress size? Better start looking for a gym that will let you focus on your health or start setting up a home gym. It’s hard to find the joy in movement when everywhere you look you’re being told to hate the body that is doing the moving. Make sure your gym is sending the right message or go somewhere else that does.
Get a DVR
Diet commercials run all year round and prey on your guilt and fears, so invest in a DVR. If you watch TV and movies online, most sites allow you to customize your ad experience. Instantly mark those ads as not relevant to you, close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and sing a little la la la for 30 seconds. Hopefully, they’ll stop popping up soon enough.