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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Weight Loss: Weight perception and how it affects you.

Recently this article brought my attention to something I have certainly noticed, yet never quite been able to pin down with logic; weight perception.

Essentially it says that these scientists did a study comparing women's actual BMI's to what they perceive themselves to be, and then based on that perception, what their weight related behaviors were. Turns out, women who are already overweight are more likely to consider themselves normal, and women who are within a healthy range are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors in an effort to lose weight.

This brings up a number of questions, but it also serves to highlight some of the behaviors that have gotten us overweight and unhealthy as a country. Many women who are overweight and obese don't seem to think that they need to change their eating or exercise habits, and many women who fall into a normal weight range feel that they must mistreat their bodies to achieve some desired the end, no one is better for any of it and the majority of us are left overwhelmingly unhealthy, regardless of weight.

It seems to me as though we are, all of us, caught somewhere in a battle between an unhealthy ideal and an unhealthy "norm".
But why? As far as America's problems go, obesity is fairly recent. It took a combination of technology and convenience to get us here, and yet it's built very deeply into our culture already...right alongside the mental image of the Victoria's Secret angels and all the other famous bodies we're told we need to emulate. Technology enables everything to move at light speed and yet physically, we've never been slower. We're living longer but without regard to health.

It comes down to the fact that we no longer respect our bodies, nor what we put into them. There isn't anything mystic about this, fact, it's very pragmatic. Regardless of how you feel about spirits and souls, you have to admit that without a body, you're pretty much screwed. You get one, and that's take care of it, right? Seems totally simple.

And yet, as a culture we consume all sorts of things that do us harm because it's convenient or because it tastes good, not realizing that we're shooting ourselves in the foot. When your body is unbalanced and unhealthy, the rest of you follows suit. How happy, calm, and fulfilled can your life be when you are either constantly striving for an unattainable goal or denying that you have anything to strive for?

The point is that weight perception can be a tricky thing. However, maybe the focus is all wrong. Maybe instead of focusing on weight, we should focus on our health. If you eat healthfully and balanced and you watch your portion size and exercise regularly, you will lose weight. Eventually, you'll hit a decent weight where you feel comfortable and good in your own skin. That number might be different for everyone and it might not line up with the BMI scale or with what anyone else says but works for you, right? And that's what matters.

Focusing on nutrition and routine exercise as opposed to weight and weight loss gives you a different focus...and as such, a different motivation. Instead of striving for unattainable goals or denying that you are anything but "normal", just recognize that "normal" is subjective and eat the best food that you can in smaller portions. You will feel better and look better...and that's just the beginning.

The Calm Cook

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