I’ll bet you see it daily like I do. Those women who fit into the smallest of outfits gracing our television commercials and print media at the checkout lanes with headlines like “Get Your Body Beach Ready.”
Those magazine headlines that draw you in as you stand in the checkout line at the grocery or department stores: headlines that tell you
“Diet Just 5 Days to Drop 25 Pounds” (First for Women)
(25 pounds in 5 days is considered by many as unhealthy.)
“The Vitamin that Turns Flab Into Firm: Lose 43 Pounds This Month”
(Note: If I remember my science correctly, firm is muscle but flab is fat, and a fat cell can’t become a muscle cell even if it wanted to.)
(Still, 13 pounds in a week is considered unhealthy.)
Many times these media women and headlines make us feel bad in our own skin and find us wanting to lose weight so we look like them.
Those are media and business persuasive techniques and appeals hard at work, and unfortunately, those techniques and appeals work. We see the gorgeous, beach ready body pushing some diet or diet product. We see the athlete, who lost muscle strength, push the product he used to return to his previous athleticism.
We buy the product or try the diet, but we get discouraged when we don’t experience the same results. Sometimes it’s that the rules of the product or diet are too stringent for our taste buds. Sometimes, the product or foods are too expensive for our budget. Still other times, it’s that life throws us a stressful curve that moves our focus on health and weight loss out of focus. Other times, you might find that you are the only one in the household who wants to improve their health, and right next to the magazines sits a display of candy and chips that entice you to ditch the thoughts of healthy eating.
I get it.
The thing is that even when I weighed in at 115 at 5’6” as a swim instructor and lifeguard who spent summer evenings water skiing and tubing, I felt like I was out of shape and overweight. The media warps our body image. Even if we are a healthy weight, eating healthy foods, and living an active life, the media works to convince us that we could still be better.
I used to buy into all these magazine headlines. I’d try suggestions with either short lived results or no results at all.
I’ve tried the cold, fermented cabbage soup. I’ve tried grapefruits. I’ve tried fasting. I even tried pills that were supposed to help you lose weight faster.
Did I just hear you ask, “Did you follow them to the letter? Or did you cheat?”
Even though the answers to those questions would be that yes, I did follow the diet accurately and no, I did not cheat, the fact that they didn’t work could be blamed on the fact that, at that time, I was in shape and at my optimum weight.
Lately, I’ve been seeing magazines sport more realistic headlines.
“8 Things to Keep in Mind If You Want To Lose Weight This Year” (SELF magazine)
(This one makes more sense. It doesn’t promise unhealthy or unreal results.)
(Again, not unhealthy or unreal.)
The media works hard to convince people that only a certain body structure is acceptable.
NOT SO! DON’T BELIEVE THEM.
The thing is that every single body is different and the media DOES NOT have the right to tell you what is beautiful and what is not.
If YOU FEEL out of shape, maybe it is time to begin exercising.
If YOU FEEL overweight or you don’t like the number the scale shows you in the morning, maybe you should be more mindful about how and what you eat. (I know the COVID lockdowns found many people binging on their favorite television shows and consuming more junk foods than normal.)
If YOU FEEL tired and out-of-sorts, maybe you should keep a food log. Then, at a doctor’s appointment, you can discuss your health concerns. Your doctor has the right to suggest dietary changes to improve your health, but not the media. AND, neither the media nor your doctor should EVER shame you about your weight.
Here’s the real deal:
Body image is about becoming comfortable in your own skin. Never, ever, let the dictates of the fashion world tell you what you should look like. Listening to them can lead to frustration and depression. And frustration and depression can lead to unhealthy eating habits.
The real deal is walking through department stores and seeing women who feel comfortable enough in their own skin to wear short shorts and crop tops, especially women who would have the fashion world cringing because they are not the skinny model type. These are the people who are comfortable in their own skin.
If you feel you need to lose weight, do it the safe and long term effective way: talk to your doctor, keep a food log, find a healthy eating buddy or mentor, and learn about healthy and unhealthy foods and eating habits. In other words, make good choices.
If you feel you need to begin an exercise program, do it the safe and long-term effective way: talk to your doctor, start slowly, vary the types of exercise you do, find an exercise buddy, and if you skip a day, start again the next day.
Let me know how you are doing over in the Facebook group, Coffee on my Porch. Leave me a comment or a question in the comments below.