Upon scanning a compulsively purchased Family Circle from the grocery store (hey it was only 75 cents!), one of their “FC facts” caught my attention. It said, “Americans are wising up about slimming down: 69 % of those recently surveyed said they’re less likely to try a fad diet than they were five years ago.” This statistic was apparently from the National Institutes of Health. Is it true that Americans aren’t falling for those fad diets anymore, like lemmings off a precipice? Although I don’t know much about how they conducted the survey or what types of people composed their sample grouping, it is something to consider. Do Americans finally understand how to lose weight? And more importantly do they know how to improve their health? With almost 70% of the surveyed individuals claiming they won’t go for fad diets as easily as they did only 5 years ago, can we expect a swing in the percentage of obese Americans to go down in the coming years? How about a drop in heart disease or high blood pressure? I’m not being pessimistic when I raise an eyebrow with the term “doubtful” at the tip of my sardonic tongue.
Americans always know more than they do (e.g. smoking is bad, exercise is good, you should vote, etc.). But that’s because being a ‘doer’ is a little more complex. Just because Americans might not be so quick to choose a fad diet, doesn’t mean they aren’t trying diets that don’t appear to be a fad diet, masquerading as a ‘tried and true’ way to lose weight. But until I can see a diet that is really concerned with the quality of someone’s life, isn’t focused on dress size, and cares about strengthening health rather than watching cash flow, I won’t be convinced by a ‘fad diet.’
For years dieting companies have been feeding off of our oversized pockets by showing us the ‘potential’ of our uncomely bodies. We are apparently disgusting if we wear a clothing size with double digits, or measure our pants size under our gut. Granted one can be unhealthy with mounds of extra weight, but who says our happiness should rest on a tag beneath our clothes that no one is likely to see?
I know that might seem a bit obvious, but do you really believe that your happiness isn’t in the appearance of your body? We are a culture of educated people, whether with a paper diploma or reading up on subjects of our interest. How can such educated people really fall prey to such overt advertising, exposing near-naked bodies that have been airbrushed with artistic flair?
Fad diets used to merely give you a commercial or ad that shows a woman (sorry guys, apparently you aren’t manly enough to be concerned with your health like us women) who has a set of teeth a dentist would die for (you know, with all of those whitening treatments) and they are holding some kind of low-fat food that they apparently find happiness in-or is it the brilliantly twirling red dress? No matter. Their head is usually thrown back as if they just heard a joke that could potentially make them wet their pants, and they carry an air about them that says, “You’re too fat to be as happy as I am. This kind of laughter can only be socially accepted out of my size 0 red dress.” Think that’s a little bit of an exaggeration? Well, what do you see in those ads? One thing I can tell you for sure is what you’ll never see-a skinny lady with emotional problems.
Lately, I’ve noticed a fad program for dieting that appears at least once out of every 3 commercials in the daytime hours (specifically designed for the socially unacceptable band of stay at home moms, I suppose). Without mention of names, you will generally see a woman in a “before” picture that wasn’t very overweight; perhaps she was a size 10 or 14 when she started looking for a way out of her obese body. Anyway, her dieting experience with this company has given her a chance to be the size she was in high school again (you know, since we were all skinny in high school or we didn’t exist). Not only are these commercials eating disorders waiting to happen, but they may even top the commercial by quoting their proud, shallow husbands declaring, “Now I have my wife back!” Um, I fail to see the connection; maybe because I was 200 lbs when I got married, and my husband would have married me even if I were 300. I guess I’m just lucky to find a man that doesn’t study my waistline as a measure of my worth. I must admit they are a minority, but let’s give those men out there a hand that look at women as people. When I see those commercials I don’t see healthy women to be admired, I only feel incredible sorrow for their relationships of conditional love; perhaps we should give them a moment of silence since they’ve never really known an ounce of happiness since their scales began to ‘tip.’ Poor wretches! Will they soon turn to Botox for comfort when unhealthy eating hangs like flaps of skin on their necks and cheeks? Will they be horrified to find their bones brittle? And will they live to see their grandchildren? I shiver at the thought of such doubts roaming through a ‘skinny’ mind for their entire mortal sojourn.
And now we come back to this little matter of philosophy or the study of ‘knowing.’ I think that knowing is our first weapon; but it isn’t in ‘knowing’ what to do. We should be ‘knowing’ what we really believe. If we are to really avoid fad diets, we should give our focus to health and not halter-tops. Want to really know why you should be as healthy as your body can be? It’s about putting your life in order, taking control of each day, and getting the most out of your life, not by focusing on yourself, but those around you. Isn’t it time to shift the paradigm?