Our Focus is Still Missing the Bull’s Eye

I’m sure this past week you read about Valerie Bertinelli’s weight loss. If not, you were either hiding under a rock or wisely avoiding fluff news.

In case you missed it, according to People magazine, Valerie has done it! She has managed to drop 50 pounds and now graces the cover of People wearing a string bikini.

Bertinelli was on the Today show this past week talking about achieving her goal of wearing a bikini at 48 years old. If you recall, a few years ago it was Kirstie Alley that was the Jenny Craig spokeswoman. Then she told women everywhere, “You can change anything you want, at any time.” She even went on the Oprah show wearing a bikini showing off her “svelte” body.” She made fun of being fat and swore she would never go back there again. Never say never.

Recent paparazzi shots of Kirstie Alley prove that she has “gone back there.” There’s a part of me that is sad for her, but there’s also a part of me that knows she made bank when she decided to go with Jenny Craig and share her weight issues with the world. And of course we know that Oprah has “gone back there” many times over and continues to share with the world, “I don’t know what happened.”

Well, I do, it’s weight loss for all the wrong reasons, simple as that. The truth is anyone can lose a lot of weight for money. If someone told me tomorrow that I’d get a million dollars if I dropped 20 pounds, I’d do it but I’d never be able to stay there, that I know.

Thanks to Hollywood’s thin obsession, we continue to miss the boat over and over again. Losing weight has become a full time job for some, for others a dangerous hobby. The reason that success is consistently short lived is because it’s all about weight, nothing else. When the weight is dropped it’s “party time” but during the partying, there is no one keeping an eye on the bad habits that are sneaking back in and before they know it, BAM, the weight is back, and they’re saying, “I don’t know how it happened?”

You cannot pay attention just to weight, it’s a myriad of things including health and whatever motivational component that is important enough to keep you on task. Obviously, health is not a strong enough motivator or perhaps just not touted enough.

For those that successfully keep weight off, it’s often due to fear. I know when I lost my 50 pounds, the idea of feeling miserable, tired, and chronic discomfort was my reason for not gaining it back. I didn’t keep the weight off to be more attractive, or to brag about wearing a size 2, sure it helped, but I kept it off for my future. It’s unfortunate that the population at large just don’t seem to get it.

Do I really care that Valerie Bertinelli can sport a bikini on the front of People magazine? (Can you say touch up?) Don’t get me wrong, God bless the woman, but she should be holding up her doctors report showing her new and improved vitals, lowered blood pressure, lowered cholesterol, reduced risk of cancer, etc. But instead, she shows that at 48 she can wear a bikini. As a responsible adult, if she and others want to contribute something positive to women’s health and esteem, it should be this, “Lose weight for the good of your health. Lose weight for a better quality of life. Lose weight to be a stronger, healthier, smarter woman, not just to be hot or relevant.”

Those women, (cough, Oprah Winfrey), that claim they struggle with weight loss, (cough,Oprah Winfrey), should once and for all let the weight go and do the right thing which is address the health ramifications that come with extra weight. Do I REALLY want to lose weight to wear a bikini? Sure, its cool, but 20 years from now, who cares? However, if those superstars lose weight and appear on the front of People, they should be celebrating their new vitals versus their new abs. Unfortunately, that doesn’t sell magazines, sad but true.

Look, I’m a personal trainer, I understand all too well that vanity plays a role in the overall weight loss effort, but the problem is that vanity isn’t enough for long-term success. Yet, vanity continues to override what really matters, good health.

Isn’t good health the message that we should be sending to our sisters, aunts, daughters and friends? Losing weight for vanity alone won’t save you. Losing weight and making healthy choices that will eventually contribute to a healthy lifestyle and a healthy body, THAT will save you!! For the love of God man, we’re so missing the boat here.

There have been a number of campaigns in which women speak on behalf of breast cancer or abuse and the atrocities that women have suffered. At the risk of sounding as though I’m minimizing those two issues, I’m not, shouldn’t someone be speaking out about the atrocities of the “push” for thin? Valerie Bertinelli is a perfect example. Women should not be wearing bikini’s to show their self-worth, rather showing their vitality which is the result of living a healthy lifestyle, not sporting a bikini.

Although I applaud Valerie Bertinelli’s weight loss victory, I ask that she and any other women that “sport” their new body share that it’s not just about the size, or the bikini, it’s much deeper than that. Because my friends, I will tell you, unless there is a reason important enough to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle, people will not do it. Wearing a bikini, or sporting a pair of skinny jeans is a temporary feeling of victory, when you’re 60 or 65 skinny jeans and a bikini becomes irrelevant. Being healthy at 60 or 65 is a far greater victory. Until we are able to make that distinction, bikini’s at 48 years old will trump health every time and in my humble opinion, that’s an atrocity.

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