Festivities, Families and Food – it’s the Holiday Trifecta. If you’re looking to maintain that waistline (or perhaps even shed a few pounds), the best time to start is right now. Of course, the present moment is really the only time you can start anything. But I’m talking about starting now – during the holidays. This is the time when you are most vulnerable to making the massive mistakes that will keep you famished, frustrated and fat.
I know this may sound hard to believe, but food is not a 4-letter word (and yes – to all the haters out there – by 4-letter, I mean a “bad” word). One of the main reasons that I encourage you to start working on your weight loss and wellness goals during the holidays is that you will be able to clearly see this cultural “food is a 4-letter word” mindset played out in the media.
From health blogs to radio sound bites to morning talk-show segments, people discuss food as if there is a “price” to pay to eat. The price, of course, is exercise – or weight-gain. In order to fill air time, segment hosts chit chat with their guests about the “dangers” of eating too much of the holiday foods, tricks to override your body’s natural instincts to eat, and ways to “burn off” any over indulgences through calorie-busting workouts.
Food is not a problem – it is a mistake to think that it is.
Are you still reading this post? What made you sit up and take notice? The fear-based, snarky headline perhaps? Don’t worry, I promised you 3 Massive Mistakes That Keep You Famished, Frustrated and Fat and I’ll give them to you. What frustrates me is that my inspirational, life affirming and empowering blog titles don’t get nearly as much traction.
Now, I get it. You’re busy and you want to be able to quickly identify whether it’s worth your time and energy to read this post – whether or not it will answer your most burning questions. But to think that any article can illuminate and transform the issues that underlie the pain, shame and frustration surrounding your body in 1300 words or less is another mistake. (There, you got a bonus!)
Just because we live in a country that has established free speech and freedom of the press, it’s a mistake to think that it’s “free.” Media is a business. This includes traditional newspaper, television and radio – as well as the newer outlets, like blogs. The goal of any business is to generate profits and in media, the bigger the audience the more ad revenue is generated. Why do you think everything from a morning talk show to the nightly news leaves you with a teaser “hook” before breaking for the commercials?
The issue is that these hooks are designed to grab your attention (like the hot headlines) and keep you tuned in, watching the show rather than convey any meaningful information. This is particularly true with health and weight loss segments. To keep you watching, producers write sound bites that attempt to convince you that they have some essential piece of information that you don’t already have. And then if you do end up watching the segment, there is very little airtime to offer any real, practical insights or solutions (assuming that the guest does indeed have anything of value to offer). All you have is a hot headline or a sound bite, which can easily be misinterpreted and deepen your pain and dysfunction.
Failure to develop media and marketing literacy skills is another mistake.
This is perhaps the most massive mistake anyone can make. It is the underlying source of all the anxiety, pain and shame – and it will definitely keep you famished, frustrated and fat. Now before you get your panties in a bunch, I am NOT saying eat whatever you want and don’t exercise. Food and exercise are both very important. They are just not important in the way that we’ve been taught. We’ve been taught to view our bodies and our weight as some sort of caloric balance sheet – we eat more, we gain weight – we eat less, we lose weight – we exercise less, we gain weight, we exercise more, we lose weight.
Now I know that if we met for coffee, you could tell me all sorts of reasons why you know that your body isn’t simply a math equation. You know about things like genes and hormones and that mysterious thing called metabolism. But, at the end of the day – if you’re famished, frustrated and fat – I’m betting dollars to donuts that this calories in/exercise out mindset is the default core premise from which you (perhaps unconsciously) run your life.
How could you not? It is the cultural paradigm! It is the fundamental premise upon which the entire (ubiquitous) weight loss industry markets its products and services!
Weight Watchers, a cornerstone in the weight loss industry, eventually transitioned from counting calories, to counting “points.” I still don’t see the difference. You get so many “points” to eat per day – and if you want to eat more, you can earn more points through exercise. Now, they are apparently trying some new “lifestyle” approach, but their fundamental core message is the same: Let us help you “Watch Your Weight” – it’s in the company name for crying out loud!
Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig help you “manage” this untenable caloric math equation by delivering pre-portioned, pre-packaged food. And Jenny Craig will even offer “counselors” who will help you overcome your body’s natural instincts so that you can be “successful” while enslaved to that caloric balance sheet premise.
On a whim, my own casual research revealed that Jenny Craig spends over $8,000 a day on high value key words for internet searches on weight loss.* Their internet marketing budget is over $92,000 a month. That’s the internet alone – not counting media! Celebrity spokespeople, TV commercials, magazine ads – the advertising dollars these companies spend to promote the “diet and exercise” mindset problem – which their product or service will help you (not ever really) solve – is staggering!
And even if you prefer more “enlightened” approaches to weight loss and wellbeing – things such as personal growth, self-help, spirituality or metaphysics – I’m willing to bet that if you’re still stuck – if you get really honest with yourself and dig deeply enough – you’ll eventually find a motivation that is based on this underlying cultural calories in/exercise out premise.
Three massive mistakes that keep you famished, frustrated and fat are:
1) Food – thinking it’s a 4 letter word
2) Failure – to develop media and marking literacy skills
3) Fallacy – believing in the “diet and exercise” model
(Yes, I love my alliteration.)
All of these mistakes contribute to dysfunctional relationships with food, exercise, your body and your weight – which keep you stuck in your pain and shame. The way to break free – to create peace, happiness, fulfillment AND sustainable weight loss and wellbeing is to recognize that while food and exercise are both important, they are completely independent of each other. Food is food and exercise is exercise. There is no “price” to pay to eat. You cannot “earn” your food through exercise. There is no “battle of the bulge” – it’s all an illusion. Your body is not the enemy – in fact, it is your greatest ally. Optimized health, vitality and beauty not only serves you, it serves your body. And your body knows how to create this optimized state. To achieve it, you simply cultivate a relationship with your body and follow its guidance. Not only is this path more enjoyable, the results are sustainable.
* Advertising and key word budgets were found using internet market research tools like Alexa.com, iSpionage.com and SpyFu.com. I could give you my exact searches, but then I’d have to kill you. Do yourself a favor and look the stats up yourself. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and would like some support and guidance, get my FREE Quick Start Program 3 Easy Steps You Can Take RIGHT NOW to Change Your Body and Your Life!