I've been in this really interesting "debate" or whatever you want to call it, with my best friend Gill about the topic of obesity and just people being overweight in general. This all stemmed from my blog post about what a person prefers when it comes to their weight-loss coach: someone who has been through the process and lost a bunch of weight, or someone who has always been of normal weight and has maintained a healthy weight their whole life. Gill lives in the USA and even though she spent most of her childhood and adolescence with me in Canada, she is an American and likes to go on rants about the horrible health of her country (not that Canada is all that far behind in the race for an unhealthy nation).
There have been a few parts of our conversations that got me thinking. Like me, she has never had any weight issues so we are both part of a biased group of people that have never struggled with their weight. However, unlike me, she has had 3 lovely children and she put on about...oh...I dunno...3 extra pounds around the midsection that she has yet to lose. This was a part of an email that she wrote to me: "I know that I still have a bit of baby weight to lose, but I'm not going to complain about how bitterly unfair it is and I have no idea why it won't go away. I'm lazy and I don't prioritize working out. Bottom line. I eat healthy, I eat smaller portions, but I'm too tired and I procrastinate to get off my ass and make the rest of the effort. And I'm aware of this! I have no one to blame but myself." I loved her saying this because she unlike a lot of people, she knows what she needs to do to make changes in her weight and is not in search of some miracle drug to do the work for her. We all have so many other people and things to blame when it comes to reasons as to why we are unhealthy.
- I had to always clear my plate growing up and can't break the habit
- My mom fed me bad food so that is what I'm used to
- I have no time to eat well
- I have no time to exercise
- Healthy food doesn't taste good
- My boss is on my ass and making me work extra hours at my sedentary job
- I'm stressed out so I need a bowl of ice cream
- I'm bored so I need a bowl of ice cream
- My friends took me to DQ so I had to get ice cream
No more excuses. The only excuses you should make are excuses to eat well and be more physically active!
Another thing that got us chatting was education about nutrition. Such as with my blog post about Nutella, a lot of people just flat out, do not have the knowledge or education about nutrition and do not know what is healthy or not. There are many obvious things that are healthy (like fruits and vegetables) and things that are obviously unhealthy (like chocolate cake and double thick crust pizzas with extra cheese). These are things that everyone knows. Like Gill said, "this is part of the issue I've had in my Nutrition class. There are people in the class who are saying they can't understand where all the weight came from, but when they discuss what they eat, they have ice cream smoothies for breakfast, two full plates of fettuccine alfredo at dinner with half a loaf of garlic bread, and McDonald's for lunch every day, and snack all day on junk, and I just want to smack them and go "WELL DUH!!!" It's not rocket science!"
No, it's totally not rocket science at all and I agree with her. But on the flip side of this, there are some foods that are not good for us at all but are disguised at healthy and this can lead to serious problems. For example, your kids want to go to Wendy's for lunch and you decide to order a salad. Salad's are healthy right? Wendy's Baja Salad contains 730 calories with, ready for this, 47 grams of fat. Or you can head to McDonalds and get the Might Caesar Chicken entree salad which contains (with dressing), 700 calories and 54 grams of fat. The tricky thing with McDonald's nutritional facts sheet is that they separate the salads and the dressings so that it is very easy to miss a huge amount of calories and fat if you don't notice this and just focus on the salad alone. Then these poor confused people scroll up to the Big Mac and see it only has 540 calories and 29 grams of fat! Why have a salad when you can have a Big Mac for less calories? (if they avoid the fries and pop of course...but who's going to omit those from the meal?)
My response in one of my emails to Gill was this: "I feel kind of....what's the word....understanding in a way. Sort of. Take me for example. I know nothing about computers yet I own a computer and use it every day. If it breaks or malfunctions, I bitch and moan and get someone else to fix it who is knowledgeable about computers. It's kinda like that with good health. People eat every day knowing nothing about nutrition and when they gain weight or their body gets sick, they go to a professional to fix it (doctor, dietitian). But then again, food is something we all need to survive so we really should all be educated on the subject." So why aren't we all better educated on the subject of nutrition?
As Gill put it: "I feel like the information needs to be out there and more accessible to people, because people really genuinely have no clue. I feel like people need to take responsibility for themselves, their health, and their lives. The government isn't going to do it for you, teachers aren't going to do it for you, marketing firms aren't going to do it, it's up to you to look out for yourself." Amen sister. Amen.
Not sure where to start to find the information you need to jump start your newer and healthier life? Apart from speaking to a qualified professional who has studied many many years of nutrition and researching your government health website, you could start by watching 2 really good documentaries. The first one is The Skinny on Obesity which are a series of short videos with tons of information about how the body works and information about sugar, insulin, hormones, genetics, stress, fast food...etc. Basically, why we are fat. The second is the new HBO series The Weight of the Nation which is quite a bit longer but also packed full of lots of information and great advice on how to lose weight and what you can do to get started and change in your life. I recommend both.