Last week I attended and lectured at IHRSA(International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association) 2013 Trade Show. IHRSA is a trade organization serving the health and fitness club industry with over 14,000 club members from 80 different countries. If you want to know what’s going on in the health and fitness world, you’ll find it here.
I shared the platform with my co-presenter Lisa Taylor. Lisa is from the U.K. and owns an organization called Momenta. Momenta is probably one of the most practical, medical and science based weight management programs I’ve ever seen. It’s not in the U.S.yet, but Momenta plans to seek out pilot sites in the U.S. this fall. (If you’re a fit pro interested in piloting a program, visit their website).
Our presentation was, Reducing the Global Weight Epidemic: Delivering Successful, Evidence Based Weight Management Programs. The gist of our presentation was to provide insight in to the obesity crisis and what we’re missing. The really interesting thing is although I was co-presenting with Lisa and she’s from the U.K., she shared some of the most startling information about obesity in our country. Below are just a few of the stats she shared. Some may surprise you.
- 2011- 65% of US citizens overweight or obese, by 2018 -75% of US citizens overweight or obese . The US has the highest rate of overweight and obesity in the world.
- Obesity is affecting our national security- *Since 1995, the proportion of recruits that failed their physical exams because they were overweight has increased by 70%.
- *27 percent of 17 to 24-year-olds in the United States are too fat to serve in the military. That’s 9 million potential recruits!
- Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Ironically, health clubs and diet programs have also grown dramatically.
The bottom line is this, as someone who spent 30 years in the health and fitness industry we don’t seem to be improving the health of our country. In fact, the healthy are getting healthier while the obese are not being properly educated, inspired or invited in to health clubs. Clearly, the health and fitness industry is missing something. Don’t you agree?
As someone who lost 50 pounds over 30 years ago, I never felt welcome when I walked in to a health club. I still hear that from people today. I have always purported that the health and fitness industry turns away the exact people they need to attract. Again, how can health clubs continue to proliferate right along with obesity? It doesn’t make any sense.
I encourage you to keep an eye on Momenta. It is the first program that takes in to consideration, not only the nutritional and physical aspect of weight loss and weight management, but the psychological component as well. A triage for success.
In my humble estimation, something has got to change and it needs to start with how we’re educating and inspiring those that are not naturally active nor has access to practical, honest education about health. What do you think we’re missing? I have my thoughts but would love to hear yours.
Here’s to never wishing for more time rather making the most of it!
By Nicki On January 29, 2012 2 Comments
If they were looking for volunteers, I’d be the first one in line to help teach kids about healthy living. There is clearly a shortage of health education for kids these days, and if it is being taught, it’s not being taught well.
Full disclosure, years ago, I fed my kids fun fruits and fruit roll-ups. Yes, we went to McDonald’s and Burger King. I potty trained my kids with M&M’s, yes, I did all the things I shouldn’t have done. But that was before I knew something wasn’t right. When I was pregnant, I made every effort to eat whole, pure food. Why should I feed them differently now? So, I made the decision to educate myself on food and the ramifications of feeding kids garbage, I reigned in, much to their disappointment.
I have been working with obese/inactive adults for almost 20 years. In the last 5 years, I have had a surge in Mother’s coming to be me with their young daughters, 11, 12, 13. “They just won’t stop eating. Their siblings are thin, their friends are thin, so I just want her to feel comfortable in her body and lose some weight.” All of this said in front of their child. I often ask parents what types of foods they buy at home, “Well, the other kids know when to stop, they don’t over eat some of the junk food I buy. Plus they’re really active. She just can’t eat that stuff.” My reply, “Well, why do you buy it?” Mother’s response, “Why should I have to punish the other kids when they don’t have a problem?” Hmmm, punishment = taking away junk food. And this my friends is where the problem starts.
Recently, there’s been some controversy over a new ad campaign in Georgia (which has the 2nd highest obesity rate for children) utilizing obese kids to get a message across; fat is bad. Some people are mortified by them, while others think they will have a positive impact. Me, I’m not so sure. As an obese teen, I find the ads offensive and ineffective. First of all, the photos should be of the whole family, not just the child. Second, I think a child that is 8 or 9 years old is being exploited and stigmatized. You don’t think kids will be bullied or teased when they see these ads? One of the ads, “Big bones didn’t make me this way, big meals did,” will surely result in teasing on the playground. A more positive approach would be a picture of an entire family that says: “A healthy child is the result of a healthy home.” or “A fit child, comes from a fit family.” Bottom line, FAMILIES need to be educated on food and how they feed their children. Just because children are active in sports does not justify a run to a fast food restaurant following practice. Parents will tell me, “Well, we don’t have time to cook a big meal, drive-thrus are just easier.” Well, they may be easier, but that’s not setting your child up for success when the shopping is ultimately u p to them.
Further, most parents are bound and determined to see that their kids do well in school and in life, shouldn’t nutrition and exercise be part of their rearing? 40 years ago, it was different, but today, it should be mandatory for every family that has a kindergarten age child, go to a class that teaches families the value in raising kids with healthy food and lifestyle. Even in low income areas, you could get volunteers teaching famlies how to eat healthy on a budget. (A girl can dream, can’t she?) A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is far better than a fast-food burger, or jumbo sandwich.
We, the parents are responsible for our children, and it is up to us to see that our children learn the importance of eating well and staying healthy. What they learn about nutrition now, they will carry through to their adult years. They won’t always be playing soccer or running track, so introducing healthy eating and reasonable ways to stay active, should not be done just for inactive kids, it should be for ALL kids.
I’m not crazy about the ad campaign, I feel that there could be a much more tactful, effective way to get the message out about childhood obesity. The people who came up with the campaign believe that the “shock and awe” value is what’s needed to wake people up to the problem of childhood obesity. I’m not so sure I agree. I think the only thing that is going to help, is educating families on what constitutes healthy eating and it needs to start from birth.
We can’t blame schools, vending machines, ads, fast-food restaurants for the obesity epidemic, rather it’s up to us to do the research, understand how junk food and fast-food compromises our health and begin making positive changes for ourselves. That way, we will be better equipped to pass it on to the next generation without feeling the need to objectify kids to make a point.
Here’s to your health!
By Nicki On January 8, 2011 5 Comments
I recently started training a 14 year old girl. She’s never been interested in organized sports and the idea of exercise is, well, a turnoff for her. She doesn’t understand how people can ‘LOVE’ exercise and finds it odd that people actually do it every day. For me, I totally get it. I too was a teen that resisted exercise because it looked like too much work for something I wasn’t good at. Friends of mine that were athletic, were naturally athletic. I had to work too hard to look like I sort of knew what I was doing, and failed miserably. It had a negative affect on my self esteem and only reminded me how uncoordinated I was. Athletics was was not my thing, so I stayed away from any kind of exercise because I thought being uncoordinated meant you couldn’t exercise. After all, exercise was for fit people, not me.
This past week when I was working with my new client she said, “Nicki, why is exercise always taught to be so hard? When I exercise with you I feel like I’m out on the playground with my friends, it’s fun.” She couldn’t have paid me a higher compliment. What I said to her was, “Exercise is fun, you just have to find the right activity for you. Anyway, exercise is just a formal word for moving fun!” The truth is that for everyone, moving is necessary. When I was a kid we were outside all the time playing. We didn’t have access to snack food the way kids do today and we didn’t have computers to entertain us the way kids do. There are more reasons for kids to sit today rather than reasons to move. We need to remind those kids that aren’t athletes that moving doesn’t have to be about sports. We also need to remind them of genetics and that every body is different. We need to teach them to embrace their body vs. being ashamed because they’re not the same size as the latest reality star. We need to encourage kids to realize the potential of their body and that it is designed to move, they just have to find the movement that feeds their soul, increases their self-esteem and is FUN!”
Unfortunately, kids that aren’t ‘natural’ athletes believe that they can’t be active, but that thought couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to make exercise fun for both kids and adults alike. I have plenty of adult clients that loathe exercise and it’s my job to create an environment of fun. If they’re having fun, they’re going to keep coming back to it and feel good about their experience. If we put exercise in to such a structured box that it becomes exclusive, we will lose a lot of people to inactive lifestyles.
There is no better time than now to teach kids and adults that exercise (formal word for fun movement) can be fun. Create a playground in your basement, or in your backyard that includes a variety of games and activities. There is an abundance now of video games that encouragse activity including Dance, Dance, Revolution, Wii Fit and Dance Mania. If I would have known that exercise didn’t have to be about going to a gym and humiliating myself through some poorly suited exercise class, or joining an organized sport, I think I would have been a lot more active. But kids and adults now have the opportunity to find FUN in exercise. As a fitness professional, that’s always my goal to help them do just that!
Here’s to finding fun in your fitness routine!