After working with clients for close to 20 years and keeping 50 pounds off for more than 30 years, I am all too familiar with the challenges weight loss efforts bring. I feel confident in saying that much of the weight issues in our country stem from two very basic things, poor nutrition and little exercise. Yet as much as exercise and better nutrition is encouraged, motivation is still lacking for many.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, when you look at obesity numbers from 40 years ago, they pale in comparison to the numbers today, why? Lifestyle, pure and simple. People eat too much, they eat too much of the wrong food (convenient, high-sugar, processed, fried foods) and move too little, thanks to the internet and modern conveniences. Given that most of you probably know all this, there is something that I feel is missing when educating people about developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and that is, the ability to create a new normal.
40 years ago, normal meant being naturally active, people mowed their own lawns, cleaned their own homes, washed their own cars (if they had one), actually got up to change the television channel, (gasp!) fast food restaurants were rare and most often was ice cream was eaten at birthdays only.
Compare that to today’s lifestyle, many people hire out so calories that were expended around the house are stored. Fast food restaurants have become the norm, (since the 70’s fast food restaurants available in the US has tripled). Processed snacks are advertised on television as if a necessity. There’s no longer the need to change our televisions because many are watching it on their computer while playing games, or reading the paper or checking out sport stats. The new normal is inactivity and overeating. However, maybe it’s time to consider creating a different normal, one that is realistic for today’s lifestyle, but necessary for improving the quality of health in this country.
Why not make regular exercise the new normal? Why not make eating more vegetables and seeking a more plant based diet your new normal? Why does everything have to be a “diet” to lose weight or always a structured form of exercise and activity? Why not simply change (gradually) the way you choose to eat and find ways to include more movement in your daily life, creating your new normal?
The truth is that we have made this 40 year lifestyle shift a money-making machine for a lot of people, i.e. diet programs, weight loss supplements, surgeries, and countless pharmaceuticals. Global Weight Loss and Gain Market (2009 – 2014)’, published by MarketsandMarkets, said the total global weight loss market is expected to be worth US$586.3 billion by 2014. Add in all the processed foods (which at times I think work in conjunction with weight loss programs,”We help people gain the weight, you have them lose it”). It becomes a vicious cycle and a win-win for these companies, and to what end? The weight loss and processed food manufacturers may be winning, but clearly we are losing everything but the weight we need to be healthy.
It really is about creating a new, healthy normal. Look at the “natural” activity that was the norm 40 years ago. Granted, you may not have time to clean your home, or wash your car or mow your own lawn, which is fine, but you’re going to need to make up that lack of activity somewhere. Find YOUR new normal, find YOUR way of becoming more active every single day which used to be the norm. Find ways to eat better food more often and realize that processed food is preventing you from creating a naturally, healthy lifestyle, your new normal. What are you going to do about it? Are you willing to take action and decide that it’s time to create your new normal or are you willing to sit back and continue with what has become our country’s normal, a disease based lifestyle.