“The commercials have spoken! You’re really gonna lose the weight this time.”
Weight Watchers really struck gold this year. Have you seen its new commercials? With Oprah?! OMG having Oprah as your spokeswoman is about the best thing ever. Everyone loves her, everyone trusts her. That’s like having…I sat here for awhile trying to come up with an equal or near-equal comparison to it but I can’t. She’s just that awesome.
Like any weight loss program with a solid celebrity behind it – think the ultra-relatable Marie Osmond for NutriSystem or crazy-adorable Valerie Bertinelli for Jenny Craig – Weight Watchers is probably going to rack up tons of added business thanks to Ms. O. But does that mean it’s the answer? Does that mean it’s a good program for you? And will it work for Oprah, a woman who has very openly struggled with weight management? The answer to all is probably No.
I’m not hating on programs with celebrity spokespeople and I’m certainly not rooting against Oprah to succeed in her weight loss goals. Celebrities aside, I just want to take a look at these programs, the root of what they are. And it’s not good. What makes these programs so appealing is what also makes them bad. Simply put, they’re wrong.
Diets don’t work. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Diets don’t work. Yet companies like Weight Watchers, NutriSystem and Jenny Craig prey on the hope and belief that, maybe this time, it will be different. Maybe this time, it will work. Maybe this time, I’ll really lose weight and be happy. But it won’t be, it won’t and you won’t.
The reason they don’t work? Dieting is sad.
Thinking of food in terms of “points” you can’t exceed is sad.
Having to pass up beers with friends is sad.
Being restricted to eating food only if it fits into a bright-colored container is sad.
Not allowing yourself to enjoy a piece of cake at your kids’ birthday is sad.
Being hangry is sad.
The other problem with all these programs is they only focus on one half of the equation: eating. In doing so, food becomes the enemy. Something to be avoided. Something shameful.
That’s sad. And it’s so, so wrong.
None of these programs address the real reason behind obesity and health issues: people just don’t move enough. That’s the root of all the issues. Bad food choices may be part of it but lack of exercise is the real problem (and I’m not even talking hardcore exercise in the gym, I’m just talking about not sitting on your ass every minute of the day).
How many times have you heard someone (or said it yourself) use the excuse, “I don’t have time to work out.” That’s such bullshit. Everyone has the time; maybe not every day, or if you have a new baby, or if you just moved to a new town, that sort of thing. But everyone has the time, it’s that not everyone makes the time. Why is that? Why are we so hardwired to loathe and fear exercise?
The weight loss folks know this. You’ll notice, none of these programs mention working out – in fact, a lot of them gain notoriety for bragging that you don’t have to work out to see results. They prey on people’s hatred of breaking a sweat. But again, why?
Rather than focusing on restricting food (which sounds kinda depressing) and avoiding certain foods (have I mentioned that’s sad?) to lose weight, why not focus on eating right to fuel the body? Eating right to nourish your body? That sounds good and positive! It’s because these companies know their market, they know their potential customers. And no one looking at these programs has health as their #1 priority. The #1 priority? Being skinny.
I think that’s wrong. And here’s why, just using myself as an example: Confidence
I don’t diet. I don’t gorge and eat with reckless abandon. I eat consciously, keeping in mind my goals, my health and my happiness. Eating to fuel my workouts, nourish my body and enjoy life. And you know what? I’m happy with myself and the way I look. Do I have a belly and some excess weight here or there? Of course! But I’m good with it because it just comes with the territory, my endomorph genetics and the balance (not perfection) I strive for every day.
This type of confidence doesn’t come from a diet. In fact, I think dieting does a better job zapping a person’s confidence than it does building it up. Me personally, my confidence comes, not from the size pants I wear, but from the level of fitness I’ve built. I can squat more than my bodyweight and help a friend move her couch. I can sprint, run marathons, and bounce up five flights of stairs – in dress shoes – without getting out of breath.
It’s worth repeating: You can’t get that kind of confidence from a diet. I don’t care if Jillian Michaels, Autumn Calabrese or even Oprah herself endorses it. You can’t.
What you can do is make your own program, something that works for you. Something that keeps you healthy and makes you happy. Especially because it’s New Year’s Resolution time, please don’t fall into the diet trap this year. Find a way to succeed that doesn’t revolve around counting points or fitting your food into expensive tupperwear.
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And if you have a great goal for 2016 that doesn’t involve weight, being skinny or any of that crap, high fives. Comment below or tweet it to me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter..