Health: So Much More Than Weight Loss

Lose Weight, they say! You'll be HEALTHY and happy if you do. But usually the people who say it, make money from your misery. This isn't always happy.

Health: So Much More Than Weight Loss

The weight loss industry is a multi billion dollar gold mine. From low fat products, to exercise equipment, and the miracle weight loss products like acai berries, diet shakes, and strange things that vibrate the fat right off your bum. Virtually every shop that sells food, will sell you something to aid your weight loss. But why are we so focussed on weight loss? Why isn’t HEALTH our goal?

Weight loss is not a cure-all. Different bodies are healthy at different sizes, what is underweight for one person might be perfectly fine for another, and the same goes for overweight bodies. For the purpose of avoiding raised eyebrows at that we should add: Obviously there are extremes at either end of that spectrum that aren’t going to be good for anyone. Lower your eyebrow now.

After reviewing recent research published by The Journal of the American Medical Association, Paul F Campos wrote in his opinion piece for The New York Times:

If the government were to redefine normal weight as one that doesn’t increase the risk of death, then about 130 million of the 165 million American adults currently categorized as overweight and obese would be re-categorized as normal weight instead.

In short, if you are feeling the pressure to lose weight it’s worth doing a bit of investigation first. Before you do anything to alter your body you should first determine how physically healthy you are. Furthermore, if you are wanting to make alterations to your physical body in order to improve your emotional well being, you should take a very long hard look at your beliefs around health, and self worth.

Almost every single image you encounter in your day to day life, will be of youthful, thin, people who are the image of perfection ….. but those images are photoshopped. A quick google will show you a selection of the worst photoshop offences, but you can pick it yourself pretty easily.

If swimwear doesn’t cut into the skin at all, it’s probably photoshopped. If the person doesn’t have pores, it’s photoshopped. Most skin colour is bronzed, unless of course you are naturally dark skinned, in which case images are whitened. Eyes are widened, makeup is added, thin people are made thinner …. and thinner, and the message that accompanies these fake images is designed to sell you an unattainable goal.

The weight loss industry has no intention of aiding your happiness or health, they’re also quite content with the popular medical recommendations of health vs weight. The sole purpose of the weight loss industry is to make rich people richer by feeding your insecurities. They need us to continue viewing weight loss as the path to health, they need us to keep on hating weight. After all, if you’re happy with yourself, why would you drink an artificially flavoured “shake” instead of making yourself a piece of toast or peeling a piece of fruit?

We in the western world are extraordinarily privileged. We can spend our lives focusing on health, eating good food, and enjoying physical activity. But we tend to overlook emotional health. Just as we question the impact of fast food on our physical health, we should also question the impact of photoshopped images, from third parties with a vested interest in selling us “self improvement” or “health”.

If you are unhealthy as a result of your current lifestyle, don’t seek to lose weight, seek incorporate more healthy things in your lifestyle, whilst still enjoying those things you love. Learn more about the dirty tricks in advertising, and explore how those tricks make you feel. Learn about the link between capitalism and our social perspective on health. Don’t buy a gimmick, save your money for something you enjoy.

Very few people ever successfully lose weight and maintain it long term. However if more people sought HEALTH over weight loss, we would probably see changes in the statistics. In order to get healthy you need to be kind to your body, nourish it with good food, move it in ways that feel good, and do things that make your mind happy – all the while being mindful of the fact that emotional health is inextricably linked to physical health.

If you are kind to your body, your mind will reflect that, happiness is found in health, not in a number on the scale. The trick is in how we separate them. Don’t let a multi billion dollar industry, who runs a photoshopped ad campaign, alter the way you feel about yourself. You are a WHOLE PERSON, not just a body, and taking advantage of your insecurities is good for business, but it isn’t good for much else.

Further Reading:

Beauty Industry – Exposing The Real Flaws

The Dos and Don’ts of Feminism

You Don’t Need To Love Your Stretchmarks

Drawing of fat people in pastel coloured suits
Fat people
License: Creative Commons CC0.

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