Just because it’s ‘common’ does not make it ‘normal’

Posted on October 10, 2011


You can’t flip a channel on TV these days without stumbling into some sort of weight loss show or talk show devoted to weight loss or the latest fitness tips. And if you’re not watching TV, you’re smacked in the face online & in magazines for questionable weight loss supplements & fad diets. We’ve reached a fever pitch with this stuff, and yet the US population is only getting fatter.

And according to this article, many people don’t even know they’re overweight. Huh? How do you not know?

Because what’s common has become normal – and just because something is common does NOT mean that it is, or should be, normal.

It’s common to be 10lbs overweight (on the low end) – it’s shockingly common to be 30,40, even 80lbs overweight.

It’s common to be on several Rx medications – most likely including statins & some kind of type-II diabetes medication.

It’s common to not include exercise regularly (4-5x/wk) in your life.

But just because you, or someone you know, has something in common with those statements, it does not mean that is normal or acceptable. Forget dropping body fat and gaining muscle because it will give you a hot, sexy body – there are serious health risks, like death, associated with every one of those statements above. It’s sort of a bummer that the consequences aren’t immediate as they would be if you burned your hand on the stove. If there was instantaneous ballooning of the body, a la the original (and best) Willy Wonka movie, when the kids eat the forbidden candy & blow up into a beach ball…more people would think twice about pulling into the drive-thru. Unfortunately, a person often has to wait decades to die early from the choices they made about their health.

If that sounds blunt, it is. It is utterly ridiculous the lack of attention many Americans are paying to their health – and how marketers and tv producers know this and are capitalizing on it.

I just saw an episode of MTV’s show, “I Used to be Fat” where the boy is a total failure in his program, and even admits he failed so he could spend time with his idiot girlfriend, and while he did lose 30lbs, he was still 60lbs overweight. 60! And he says, “at least I’m healthier that I was before.” (And in case you forgot how I feel about the words “at least”) That is NOT OK. The fact that it’s depicted on TV means someone out there is relating to that kid, and thinking, “yep, I’m out of the danger zone now, I dropped a bit of weight, I’m healthier than I was before.” ‘Healthier than you were before’? Maybe. But is that kid healthy? No effing way.

As a fitness pro, I’ve had my fill of weight loss shows setting unrealistic expectations (ahem, Biggest Loser weight losses of 6lbs in a week are a disappointment on that show), sham products that claim to take your fat but only take your money, & mixed messages on docuseries showcasing obese people – yes, accept them as a person, but condoning living a life full of major health risks?…no way. That would be like those shows about addiction showcasing the human side of the addict but saying they’re doing fine making all those risky decisions a drug addict makes – it’s absurd when you look at it that way.

A part of me feels bad for people who may not know where to begin to get fit & healthy because there are so many mixed messages out there, but the other part of me thinks, ‘it’s not hard – there are commonsense things that every person needs to do every day to be healthy, just like brushing their teeth.’

  • Get moving every single day. The saying is true, ‘if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.’ The body doesn’t keep what it doesn’t use.
  • Push heavy things around a few times/week. Every cell in the body reacts positively to the strain of resistance exercise.
  • Eat real food. There’s no need to count calories if you’re eating real food since it’s impossible to over-eat spinach or salmon or other real foods. Try it. You’ll see.
  • Drink water throughout the day. Your body is majority water. How do you think it will work if you deny it that which it is?
  • Sleep. You really canNOT ‘get by’ on 5hrs, 8hrs is the goal for all adults, some will need slightly more, a few need slightly less. Not sleeping guarantees you’ll get fat by screwing up your leptin signaling, among other things. Every single study out there proves it.

Sure, there’s more fun details you can get into, like probiotics, types of strength training & when to eat certain foods – but if you’re not getting these basics, you shouldn’t even worry about the rest of it.

Unfortunately, there are some of you out there who actually do all this, and still nothing happens. If you’re being honest about the work you’re putting in (walking the dog every day doesn’t count as a workout, sorry) that’s when it’s time to consult with someone specialized in this field of health & wellness. Just like you’d seek out a cancer specialist if you found a lump, seek out someone who specializes in optimal health if you’re doing that entire list up there  & nothing is happening to your health, fitness or weight.

Personally, I’ve used a naturopath for 4 years now because he knows more about the inner workings of the body than I do. So where my knowledge ends, his picks up, and together we have gotten my health to a state I feel good about. Naturopaths, chiropractors, functional medicine docs, & fitness pros – these are the most common specialists in the field of wellness – and a good one will help you change your life.  And if the person you’re consulting with about YOUR wellness wouldn’t be able to treat you with their shirt off, then they aren’t living what they’re preaching, so find someone else. Wellness professionals should look like they’re fit, healthy & at the top of their wellness game. 

And lastly, it’s time to own your health & accept the fact that you’re going to have to do some research and get your learn on if you want to know what is truly the best thing for your health. Media & marketers have made lies seem like truths, have set incorrect expectations & have distorted what is ‘healthy’ to such a degree that you need to be proactive and be open to continually learning about health. It’s not just a class in high school anymore, if you want to be truly healthy, you’re going to need to get some adult-education. And you’re going to need to do that list of healthy stuff up above.