Unfortunately, in our quest for skinny, we are becoming obese.
- Recent figures from the National Institute of Health report more than 2/3 of Americans are considered to be overweight or obese. More than 1 in 3 adults are considered to be obese. More than 1 in 20 adults are considered to have extreme obesity. About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.
- Recent polls from a national research company (NPD group) reveal that 23% of women are on a diet at any given time.
- Boston Medical Center indicates that approximately 45 million Americans diet each year and spend $33 billion on weight-loss products.
Perhaps we should be learning a lesson from all of this data. Aiming for “skinny” simply does not work. Our bodies weren’t meant to thrive on the amount of calories one needs to limit itself to in order to “be” skinny.
What’s a person to do?
First and foremost, focus on nutrients, rather than calories. Calories can be deceiving. Nutrient dense calories provide everything your body needs to function efficiently. Your body does not utilize 500 calories of chips, soda, and cookies the same way it uses 500 calories of whole grains, vegetables and beans. Eat nutrient rich foods!
Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible and eat “in season”. In other words, stop eating chemicals. Your body was not meant to process chemicals. Bodies were made to process real food. Eat local! Be aware of what is in your food. Read labels!
Don’t restrict. Work with your metabolism rather than against it. The lower your intake of calories, the slower you metabolize food. Your body recognizes when you are in starvation mode and wants to cling to every single calorie. So now your body requires even fewer calories to maintain its weight, than it did when you started restricting calories.
Stop comparing yourself to the highly altered bodies seen in magazines. They are not real. Looking at store flyers (I’m talking about you J. Crew and Victoria’s Secret) where models are obviously photoshopped, does nothing for your health. (Thank you, Aerie for providing honest images.)
Stop comparing yourself to actresses and athletes whose job it is to portray an “ideal” image. They of course, have the luxury of personal chefs and personal trainers 24/7. Realize the importance of taking care of yourself by eating right and working out, but understand that living in the real world requires you to balance your responsibilities. And this, is an important aspect of your health as well.
Spend time with family and friends. Work on relationships that are worth having. Realize that some people are not worth sacrificing your health. Some relationships are toxic. Make peace with that and focus on those who matter. Let go of those who don’t.
Be real. Putting on an act takes energy that could and should be spent on what really matters. Opening yourself up to others creates deeper bonds. Be honest about who you are. Being “imperfect” allows others to identify with you.
Sleep. Your body needs time to rejuvenate and repair itself. Running yourself into the ground negatively impacts your body and your emotions and your mind. It is not a sign of weakness to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Be consistent in your sleeping patterns…even on weekends.
Take time to reflect. Find religion. Believe in something bigger than yourself. This allows you to better handle stress.
Let go of anger. Make peace with your past.
Understand that your body is unique. You are the best “you” there is.
Your body is smart. Trust it.
Stop chasing skinny, and take pride in being healthy instead.