Posts Tagged ‘weight loss

21
Dec
11

Why Not A Nice Ratatouille?

This was all inspired by this product:

And this question:

WHY???????

A lifetime ago, I taught fitness classes at the YMCA. During my tenure there, I cannot count the number of people who used to ask me for weight loss advice and/or personal training secrets. My answer was always the same, “Eat less and exercise more. If you burn more calories than you take in, you’ll lose weight. If you don’t, you won’t.” Out of the innumerable askers, a very numerable minority took me up on it: one. Only one person out of the throng responded to the harsh reality that 1500 calories = 1 pound, no matter how you slice it or dress it up. Everyone else went for a gimmick (“Ooh, if I do a boot camp, I can eat whatever I want!” “If I only eat protein, I can eat as much as I want!” “If I starve myself for 10 days, then I can eat whatever I want for 5!”).

It’s a human trait to try to find the path of least resistance. It seems to be an American trait, however, to so stubbornly pursue shortcuts. We seem to have been so pampered, we’re on the verge of become imbecilic brats who can no longer understand what it is to take medicine that doesn’t taste exactly like an Orange Julius.

The dressing up of the problem, then, has become big business. Want to get into a good school? It can’t be that the answer is to work hard, be as well-rounded as possible, and let the chips fall where they may; instead, you must game the system in the specific way these handy dandy books’ll tell you. Want to lose weight? Drink this magical elixir (juice) with these magical pills (speed) and watch your appetite disappear (while your blood pressure skyrockets)! Too much trouble to dress yourself? Never fear! Now you don’t have to even go through the trouble of putting on a velour track suit; now there are Pajama Jeans!

I’m not going on another anti-consumerist rampage here. My problem is actually the lack of understanding we as a country show that sometimes medicine is medicine. And that’s not always that bad. There are ways to make it palatable without losing what it is in the first place.

To wit: a French friend of mine was talking to me about the huge business that is recipes for children’s food here. She said she’d been over to a friend’s house and said (very well-meaning) friend was showing her a trick to get her kid to eat carrots: just roast them with honey on top. My friend was perplexed and asked the best question ever: “Why not a nice ratatouille?”

What an excellent question, and an excellent response to all this craziness. Instead of going overboard on gimmicks and tricks and trying so hard to never ever have to realize that something might be unpleasant, why not use a simple method to make it palatable? Want to look better when you roll out of bed? Get nicer pajamas. Better yet, stop caring so much whether or not anyone sees you in pajamas. Want to get better grades? Go to class, take notes, then do the assignments. Want to lose weight? Keep going to the gym, then skip a meal once in a while (or cut back on the ones you already eat). Why not a nice ratatouille indeed?

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12
Mar
09

Can Michelle Obama Teach Americans To Eat Right? Prolly Not.


Don’t get me wrong: I hope she succeeds in her stated goal to encourage healthful eating across the United States. And I really think, if anyone can do it, she can. (Can anyone remember such a collective swoon happening in the States at a couple’s physiques as has happened with these two? Seriously, it’s like we all have a touch of the vapors when they bare the tiniest bit of skin.)

It’s just that, as I’ve said many times before, the notion that being American means overindulging in everything is soooo ingrained, it seems impossible to extricate from our collective consciousness. Her idea to highlight overindulgence in local produce seems smart, since it’s not taking away anything (just modifying it), but it’s still a tough sell. Wearing our hyper-consumption of bacon grease (and spare tires) like a badge of honor has become de rigeur. I hope it changes, since it’s not only wildly unhealthy but also seriously costly to the American taxpayer (yes, more so than smokers or drug addicts), but I lack the hope these guys have.

Part of the reason? They’re already catching flack from our fucking Congressmen about the “tiny portions” they’re being served at the White House dinners. If these guys (who, I hate to say it, are actually role models to a lot of people) can’t suck it up and set an example, I just don’t know if this idea can sell.

It’s not just about the food either. It seems to be a generally accepted notion in the U.S. to sort of expect free lunches, if you will. The legends of people pulling themselves up by the bootstraps aside, we seem to expect to just be given things without working very hard or long at them. It could be my generational lack of patience with everything (blame Sesame Street!), our proliferation of easily-available fast food, or who knows what; cutting corners to get ahead just seems to be the new American dream. Sure, we want the chiseled bodies of our new leaders, but we don’t soooo much want to put in the hours at the gym or eat like they do.

Part of this also stems from our reluctance to tell people they’re not special in some way. From high school teachers no longer being able to correct grammar, to the SAT’s being easier to ace, we seem to be unable to tell our children that everything they do and are isn’t exceptionally perfect, lest we damage their self esteem. I understand this desire. Really. I constantly tell my daughter how wonderful she is, and I loathe the notion that one day she won’t feel that way. But my greatest hope is for her to one day truly accept herself, scars and all, and I know that me constantly denying she has any faults won’t help.

So, yeah, there are a lot of reasons I think Michelle might fail. But, then again, I had many more reasons I thought I’d never see a president elected who is smart, handsome, and in love with his family, so fuck do I know, right?

26
Feb
09

A Fancy Scientific Study Links Eating Less To Losing Weight!


Yes, they pay people for this.

A new study has found that overall calorie consumption matters far more than cutting any particular food group (fats, carbs) in maintaining a healthy weight. Will this turn the weight loss industry on its ear? Nope. Why? It ain’t news.

As I’ve mentioned before, I used to teach a lot of fitness classes at various venues in Baton Rouge. While the clientele varied enormously from the YMCA to the high-end fancy gym, one thing remained the same: People want short cuts. And, hey, I can’t blame them. It’s human nature to, when confronted with a seemingly enormous task, try to figure out a way to get around starting a long journey.

I’ve found that, when people are looking for advice on losing weight, they want to hear two things: they can get immediate gratification, and there’s some new secret they didn’t know about before. I really can’t blame them; I myself am HUGELY impatient (for example, I would rather snack all day than prepare a meal, if given my druthers), and I wouldn’t want to be paying for advice I’d already heard. Regardless, I tended to tell my clients the truth when they asked how best they could lose weight: Eat less and exercise more. They always looked disappointed, but it always worked. Of course, the other trainers–advocating specific weight exercises, fish-only diets, or even liposuction–were more popular, but at least I knew I wasn’t bullshitting people who were earnestly looking for help.

I know I’ve harped on this before, citing personal experience and observation, but it’s nice to be able to cite a specific study.

If the money I applied for in my grant went to this no-brainer, though, I’m going to plotz.