Thank you for all of your letters in response to Oprah’s Phenomenon for being part of something that is vastly important to me, standing on my soapbox and disagreeing with the mainstream weight loss advice. I do not now, nor will I ever condone or support quick weight loss diets or any programs that promise fast and easy. My mission continues to be inspiring each person to discover the necessary changes that need to be made in order to contribute to a more positive lifestyle.
There is no secret, there is only your effort to find the different applications for healthy living that you can stick with. In my almost 30 years of healthy living (some days more than others), I will always believe that we are “duped” into thinking that we are unable to achieve good health (because skinny seems to mean healthy), we are “duped” into thinking that the only way to achieve happiness is to embark on some wacky diet and we are “duped” by those that have personal chefs, 24 hour access to trainers, psychologists and workout facilities that weight loss is easy and we too can look like Hollywood stars.
The reality is that it shouldn’t be anyone’s goal to look like anyone, rather it should be everyone’s goal to be the best “me” that they can be. We have to remember, that exercise isn’t just a “thing” that people do because they’re athletic, they may have been the case 30 or 40 years ago, but not now. We HAVE to exercise because our lifestyle has so drastically changed therefore limiting the amount of activity our body performs on a daily basis. We sit more than we move, we eat more than we should and we can’t understand why we feel so lousy. Too little movement, too much processed food and too much BAD information.
If I can leave you with just one thing, it is this, take the time to explore your lifestyle, where it is today and what habits you’re involved in that continue to take away from being as healthy as you can be. Is there too much stress in your life? Have you lost a sense of self? Are you depressed? Are you feeling that food is your only solace? Are you just confused and frustrated? The beauty is that all of these different scenarios have an answer. If you have too much stress, find ways to de-stress even if it means 5 minutes in the bathroom deep breathing and re-connecting. If you’ve lost your sense of self, find a great therapist. If you’re depressed, find a great therapist (exercise has been shown time and time again to DRAMATICALLY reduce the symptoms of depression you just have to get started, it’s hard, I know). Are you feeling food is your only solace? Seek out hobbies, classes, friends that perhaps you’ve distanced yourself from and find other ways to comfort yourself and feel “alive” again. And if you’re just confused and frustrated, continue to read my blog. 🙂 Because at the end the day, I believe that no matter what all of you have the ability to be successful in changing your lifestyle.
Be mindful and stop feeding yourself such negative messages, “I can’t, I’m fat, If only…. when I lose weight I’ll….” Change your thought process, do your best to tell yourself something positive each and every day. “I can be more active. I am capable of eating better, I’m worthy of being healthy,” and so on.
However, it’s important to note that in order to address the above, you have to really WANT to change. If you really want to change, really, really, really, than you can go back to the above and see where you can start.
I believe that all of us at one time or another need help, need an objective opinion, someone on the outside looking in. For women especially, we’re “doers” and spend more time helping other people than we do helping ourselves. Find something that brings you joy, it doesn’t matter what it is, find some sense of purpose if you feel “drab” and hopeless. Sometimes it means reconnecting with that part of yourself that gives you the ability to start doing more positive things for yourself; including exercising and eating well.
I hope that you all will continue to read my blog and find a source of education or positive inspiration there. I also hope that you’ve learned that anything you set your mind to do, you’re capable of, you just have to want it. I also hope that none of you ever go the “diet” route again, but believe enough in your ability to choose wisely and opt instead to seek out an R.D. (Registered Dietitian) a sensible food program that you connect with that makes sense for you and your lifestyle.
And lastly, I hope that you discover an activity that is enjoyable and that makes you feel good so that you are able to view exercise as a blessing versus a curse (for an imperfect body.)
Embrace your genetic make-up, take hold of what you can do and leave behind all that you believe you can’t do. Every day is an opportunity to live your life differently. Are you ready? Change is waiting!
Here’s to your health, today, tomorrow and always.
By Nicki On January 13, 2009 No Comments
Since I entered the fitness field close to 30 years ago, I have always believe that diet’s do more damage than good. Further, a “healthy” weight is simply the result of lifestyle changes that make sense.
In the last couple of posts, I’ve talked about the “Oprah Phenomenon” which is basically society’s obsession with weight and the perception that all women are meant to be thin. Until we realize that somewhere along the way, the lines between Reality and Hollywood have crossed, women (and some men) will never get out from under the pressure of desperately seeking “skinny.”
We have come to believe (thanks to Reality TV) that we need to “compete” with the movie stars. From shows like “Cribs” and “100 Hottest Bodies” and the magazine covers touting the “Most Beautiful” people, it seems what we considered beautiful 25 years ago and we consider beautiful today is vastly different.
Everyone is trying to achieve the “Hollywood ideal” and in my humble opinion, it is what has caused the realistic expectations of women, when it comes to their body, to be severely distorted. Our society idolizes thin and beautiful and shuns average, think about it. From clothing to hair and make-up to lifestyle, we are competing with Hollywood (Celebreality). And, the most glaring negative impact is spoken through women every day as they strive to be something that is not only outside the realm of reality, but has take their self-esteem and pushed it to new lows.
When watching the Oprah show recently, her guest Carnie Wilson displayed a perfect example of 2 women who will never be or were ever meant to be “skinny.”Yet, they shared their struggles with weight and what they were doing differently. I would venture to say (and some studies have shown), it’s only a small population that is naturally, “skinny” and the rest of us, if we manage our health more responsibly would be pretty much average. What? AVERAGE? Exercise and eat well just to achieve AVERAGE? Well, yeah pretty much.
We cannot continue to try to keep up with something that isn’t real. On the front of Oprah’s magazine this month (in which she claims “It shows the fat me and the skinny me”). Her fat picture isn’t so fat to me and further, it’s been touched up. Not one magazine cover do you see has gone untouched, what we see on TV, magazine covers, award shows does not depict people as they are everyday. Why? Because those photos are not real, they are enhanced, touched up, tinkered with in order to give the illusion of “perfect.” And thanks to this illusion of perfection, millions of women (and some men too) spend hundreds and thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time and tons of emotion in order to achieve something that again, isn’t even real.
Diet’s aren’t really about losing weight, they are about achieving something that we’re led to believe is ideal. “If I’m thin and I look like Hallie Barry, life will be perfect!” Yeah, between you and me, perhaps that life is not one you’d even want. Don’t get me wrong, having a body like hers is lovely to look at, but THAT’S NOT THE NORM! However, our society has accepted that it is.
Oprah’s show about weight loss isn’t about “how to once and for all come to terms with what you love” it’s coming to terms with the realization that we’ve been duped in to thinking, “You too can look like a Hollywood star!”
There is no perfect, any Hollywood personality or famous person will tell you that, we’re just led to believe it because it sells “stuff.” From clothing lines to weight loss products and beauty aids, we believe that if we spend enough and buy the things movie stars have, we will be them. We’ve been sold a bill of goods, we’ve been sold the belief that weight is tied to character or happiness.
So what is normal? What’s acceptable? Given that our lifestyle is vastly different than it was 20 or 30 years ago, we have to be active and eat better. We have to be more conscious to move more, eat less and eat better. However, we can’t tie an unrealistic guarantee to living a healthy lifestyle. Just as we brush our teeth to prevent decay, we exercise and eat better to prevent poor health and obesity. But exercise and eating well doesn’t guarantee that you will be “skinny” because anyone that is not meant to be skinny will tell you they’ve done everything and skinny was not something they could maintain. Why? Because they weren’t meant to be what society was telling them they HAD to be.
We must get back to reality and separate Hollywood and it’s cast of characters from our character. We must realize that the beauty and allure of Hollywood is there for our entertainment, not as a role model. We must realize that beautiful people that appear perfect, aren’t.
It is the role of every health and fitness professional, self included to educate our society about what constitutes good health and it is not skinny, it is healthy which results from daily exercise, a healthy dose of nutrition, a reasonably balanced lifestyle and a sound dose of reality. The thing is that everyone can strive to be healthy and achieve good health but not everyone can or should be led to believe they have to be skinny or perfect.
I think if someone as Hollywood as Oprah can realize she’s confused her persona with the persona Hollywood has perpetuated, only then will she be able to move on, realize what things she needs to change and be content with the body she was given.
By Nicki On January 6, 2009 No Comments
I blogged yesterday about Oprah’s recent weight issues after watching a spot I saw on “Extra”. After writing the post, a friend of mine suggested that I watch the Oprah Show that had aired on Monday to get more of the real story. My friend reminded me that gossip shows often show the sound bytes that make it more appealing. I agreed and watched Oprah’s show.
If you missed the January 5th show, it was Oprah sharing her ongoing struggle with weight. She was interviewed on her own show discussing her recent weight gain the and impact it’s had on the past year.
She said “All the success, all the money, all the recognition means nothing if you can’t control your being.” Brilliant, I thought. Until she followed it up with, “And none of it matters if you can’t fit in to your clothes, it means you’re the “fat one” you didn’t win.” Oh no, did she really just say that? You didn’t win? Win what? Most skinny? That’s the problem, every woman is trying to “win” the weight loss battle and it’s not a game to be won, winning means there’s an end and when you speak about healthy living, it doesn’t end.
During the course of the show it seemed that in certain instances she “got it” yet the follow-up didn’t convince me that she really believed what she was saying. Any psychologist will tell you that you have to BELIEVE you can be successful in order to achieve it, in whatever area you choose. She needs to believe she can be healthy and stop trying to believe she has to be skinny.
There were points during her show that I found myself shaking my head in agreement yet shortly after I was shaking my head in disbelief. For example, she said, “It’s about being healthy, it’s about embracing your body.” I cheered albeit shortly due to her follow-up comment, “Being a size 14 is embarrassing.” What about the person that is a healthy size 14, should they be embarrassed? I know she didn’t mean it that way, but it came off as condemning a size 14 reinforcing her focus on size.
Oprah said at the beginning of her interview, “I can’t believe I’m back on TV talking about my weight, I just can’t believe it.” I feel that she didn’t have to make it about the weight, she’s done that and well, it hasn’t worked. Could the show have perhaps shared her initial concerns with getting back to unhealthy habits? Losing control of healthy choices? At the end of the day, she can say all she wants that she’s embracing her health (which I do think will play a stronger role in her life) but I still hear, “I want to be thin.”
Oprah also spoke about exercise and it’s correlation to weight. Now hang with me for a minute, as a fitness professional I am not dismissing the importance of exercise and a healthy weight. However, we have to remember that there is no greater medicine than exercise. We have to stop looking to exercise simply for weight loss and embrace exercise as a life preserver. As long as weight loss is the sole reason behind healthy eating and exercise, unrealistic expectations will rule the journey and therefore success will always be short-lived.
Later in the show, Carnie Wilson came on the show as a guest. Wilson had bypass surgery some years ago and has yo-yo’d ever since. She came on the show and within the first 3 minutes of her interview she said, “I’m at 168 and feeling just great.” And a few minutes later she said, “I don’t care about the numbers on the scale, I just want to be healthy.” Hmmm, a little disconnect there.
At the end of the day, we really need to let the weight go so in turn we can let the pressure to be something unrealistic go. Too many people have the wrong idea on what “healthy weight” is, especially women, thank you Hollywood. I find my most successful clients are those that understand exercise and eating right are the necessary components to living the best life ever. Just like taking blood pressure medicine or insulin for a diabetic, we too must consider exercise and healthy eating a necessary prescription for our health.
By Nicki On January 5, 2009 No Comments
I can’t believe it, Oprah is talking weight loss and diet again. Oprah is on T.V. telling the world she has to lose 40 pounds and get back to her “tummy showing” size. Huh? Wha? Did she really say, “Tummy showing size?” Well, yes and no. I was watching the T.V. Show, “Extra” in which they interviewed Oprah. They held up a photo of her wearing a shirt that exposed her belly and she said that’s where she needs to be. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Seriously? Tummy showing size. Puuuuleeeeaaassseeee.
Oprah went on to say that she was interviewing Tina Turner and Cher recently, and she was embarrassed to be standing in between them weighing in at 200 pounds. Well, let’s see if we can make some sense out of all of this and perhaps help Oprah release the albatross.
First, Oprah is just not meant to be a small girl, period end of statement. That might not be what she wants to hear, but for those that are not meant to be “small” women, she’s unknowingly putting the “guilt” on those that are healthy and look great at a size 12 or 14 and making them feel “fat”. I hate that word fat, it’s so rarely used in the right context.
Second, let’s pretend for just a minute that the gene pool that Cher and Tina Turner have are vastly different than that of Oprah. I’ve seen long, lean photos of Tina and Cher for most of their professional career. The only time I saw a long and lean Oprah (and it didn’t look natural) was after her liquid diet fiasco. Therefore, 90% of the time Oprah has not been long and lean. Is it bad? No, but she’s spent so much time trying to get there it has totally sabotaged any effort to just be healthy. Further, Cher makes no secret of her plastic surgery and “helpers” to keep her looking lean. Because Oprah continues to put herself in the same category, she will never be able to accept what she can achieve because it’s not Tina size or perfect size. Tina Turner, is a freak of nature, may we all be so freakish.
Third, Oprah wants to lose 40 pounds. Oprah, Oprah, Oprah, aren’t you tired of saying how much weight you want to lose? I figured after getting back up to 200, you would do what it’s your responsibility to do, get in touch with reality and once and for all, quit the Hollywood “body games” and embrace your genetics and simply strive to be healthy, not skinny. For the love of God, it’s not you and you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to achieve something that isn’t genetically normal which means you’ll be “fighting” weight the rest of your life. Life is just too short.
Women all over the world relate to Oprah to some degree, often the common denominator being her struggle with weight. Just as she has made it her mission to switch from “Jerry Springer” like T.V. drama, so should she do with this whole weight thing. It’s her responsibility to tell women, “We are not all meant to be a size 2 or 4, 6 or 8, but you are meant to be healthy and you deserve to be healthy both mentally and physically. Forgo the pressure by society to be something that is not normal nor healthy. That pressure often occupies more negative internal conversations than should be allowed. Focus on doing things that make you feel good about yourself versus the constant struggle to attain something that for most of the population, is genetically impossible! Women, stand up for who you can be and who you want to be, don’t let a shallow ideal define who you are. Make the decision to exercise more and eat better simply to achieve the best you ever. At the end of the day, that is something attainable and will help you realize success. Diets and a preoccupation with weight loss has been oppressive and it’s time to stop.”
That’s what I wanted to hear Oprah say, that’s what she needs to say to her viewers all over the world. Encourage folks to stop buying in to unhealthy beliefs and start focusing their efforts on more important things, like good health.
Oprah, sure, you shouldn’t be at 200 pounds but I promise you that the minute you can say, “O.K. I’m dedicated to taking care of my body the best way I can.” Only then will you be able to stop the body obsession and come to terms with who you are and what you’re capable of.
Your expectations of perfection may be possible in the business world, but not in the body world. Let it go my friend and start reaping the benefits of all the things that are so positive in your life and you will inspire others to do the same. That’s the Oprah we’ve all come to know and appreciate.