The promises are everywhere — “drop three sizes in just 10 days, lose weight quickly and easily in 30 days or less, guaranteed weight loss or your money back.” Weight loss ads are plastered in every magazine, popular diet books are on The New York Times’ bestsellers list and those convincing infomercials are inescapable. Even the most logical and levelheaded person can’t fight the force of the infamous weight loss infomercials. By the end of a 30-minute segment, viewers sit convinced that a mechanical object can literally massage fat away, or that just one bottle of those pills will help you drop three dress sizes in the first two weeks. And with a money-back guarantee, you’ve got nothing to lose, right?
With all of this weight loss madness, we are losing our minds, our money and not an ounce of weight.
U.S. citizens spend $33 billion a year on weight loss products and services; yet approximately 127 million adults in the United States are overweight. With a culture so focused on weight loss, it seems ironic that we’re heavier than we’ve ever been. The truth behind proper weight management drowns in a sea of media, marketing and modern-day lifestyles. Much of this weight loss mania begins with the media. Airbrushing unrealistic body images leaves us with unrealistic goals of what our bodies should look like. Next, marketing steps in and makes billions of dollars promoting weight loss products convincing us that losing weight is quick and easy. Finally, our overbooked, high-tech and fast-paced lifestyles leave us drained and worn emotionally thin. This makes processed, packaged, quick and easy meals appealing even when they’re packed full of sodium, preservatives and fat; no wonder the battle is us against our weight.
Whether your weight loss wish is five, 10 or 100 pounds, there are three ingredients that must be included in any worthwhile weight-loss potion.
First, weight loss is neither quick nor easy. If it were easy, obesity wouldn’t be climbing the ranks on America’s death tolls. True weight loss — the kind where you actually lose fat instead of water weight, muscle and God knows what else — happens at a rate of one to two pounds a week. Doesn’t seem like much, but the weeks add up and suddenly you find yourself a year later still wishing those extra pounds would just waste away for good. Remember, rapid weight loss only occurs on a weight-loss roller coaster filled with ups and downs, twists and turns. Permanent weight loss happens when you step off that roller coaster and set your life on cruise control for a while. It may not seem as gratifying, but the ride lasts a whole lot longer.
Second, the perfect weight loss potion is as cheap as it is available. For example, there is no charge to walk or jog around the block. There is no charge for doing crunches on commercial- breaks during American Idol. And there is no charge for USF students to use any equipment or take any group-fitness classes here at our Campus Recreation Center. Fitness doesn’t have to collide with your finances, and weight loss doesn’t have to include your wallet.
The final and most important ingredient to weight reduction is applying these tips to your entire lifestyle. Whatever means of exercise or dietary you choose, make sure it is something you can live with. Be realistic; who wants to live a life without spaghetti, and who has enough time to spend an hour and a half of their day in the gym?
Weight management isn’t a six-week plan; it’s a huge part of life management. When life is out of whack, diet and exercise will be the first to hit the fan. Chocolate has a way of consoling a broken heart, and a night on the couch with some mindless television is perfect after finals week. But overall, activity, energy and the right information all feed into weight management, while laziness, daily stress and too many weight loss magazines will leave you feeling plump. Remember, give weight loss time; don’t break your bank trying to lose those extra pounds. And think about changing your lifestyle to finally be content with your weight.