Being Healthy The Right Way

In 2012, in the United States, there were an estimated 108 million dieters who were collectively funding a $20 billion industry of diet books, diet plans, and weight loss surgeries. These statistics can seem rather abstract in isolation, but they are a telling explication of a deep-rooted obsession with being slim and conventionally beautiful. A lot is written about how lots of different media outlets propagate a certain narrative of beauty that is often unattainable. The loci of these debates are varied.

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The fashion industry, which has caused controversy in the past for using so-called size zero models, is one area of society that has contributed to this phenomenon in the past. One response to this has been an initiative to promote ‘body positivity’. Some companies, including Dove which uses ‘real women’ has tried to capitalize on this trend. This can sometimes seem as if it is just as cynical as the approach which it ostensibly opposes in so far as it creates a narrative that suggests that certain physiques are ‘real’. This may imply that everything is somehow contrived or illegitimate. The language that is used when talking about physical appearance is at issue here and by using it to either demonize or demoralize one group in favor of another seems to be rather short sighted. However, capitalism is such that it will always support and legitimize both sides of the constructed argument.

The question of health sometimes appears in the discourse. Interestingly, the idea that overweight people (the word itself obviously carries rather negative connotations) are just as healthy as people who have a supposedly normal or appropriate weight has some currency. Fat positive role models dedicate themselves to demystifying some of the stigmas and misconceptions about being overweight, such as that those people are necessarily lazy, for instance. The issue of health is still pertinent though: a study released recently found that ‘metabolically healthy obese’ people are still 50% more likely to suffer from heart disease compared to people with an ostensibly normal weight. The fact remains, however much a person tries to accept and promote bodies of all shapes and sizes, that being overweight or obese is simply not as good for you as being a normal weight.

In any case, these sorts of ideas have not permeated society as much as they perhaps could. The evidence for this is that the predominate beauty standard to which people may feel themselves actively or passively obligated is still being slim. Reputable and popular magazines and websites like Vogue and Cosmopolitan will still tell you how to get the perfect beach body, in two weeks, or three days, respectively. Aside from the potentially ethical implications of these sorts of articles, they suggest that looking after yourself should be in the service of looking good on the beach. Staying healthy the rest of the year so that you can enjoy a better quality of life is condemned by omission. However, this is exactly what is most important. If you are looking towards the summer with a mix of excitement and trepidation, you may be worrying about how you’ll look this summer. However, if you keep fit, eat well, and look after yourself all year round, you will be happier, have more energy and less stress. Here are a few ways of doing it:

One of the confounding things about the fact that the weight loss industry is worth $20 billion is that losing weight and staying fit are actually quite simple. It starts with eating well. Everybody knows that the key to a healthy diet is having a balanced diet. Too much of anything, even if it is good for you, will be bad for you. This includes things like salad, which are known for being good. Another misconception is that you cannot have highly calorific fast foods that have processed fats and lots of sugar and salt. This not true. Eating them occasionally is fine. Dieting can be hard because food has a lot to do with psychology. One study found that people tend to eat when they are stressed, and the things that they choose to make for themselves correlate with the foods that they had when they were children. Eating as a response to a difficult day can seem effective, but if you become overweight or start to experience medical problems because of your eating, you may find that you become more stressed in a cumulative sense. The best thing to do is to eat regular portions of a variety of different foods.

Exercise exerts its influence because gaining weight is a simple physiological process: if a person takes on more calories than they need, and more than they burn off, they will gain weight. Losing that weight is, therefore, a matter of burning those extra calories along with consuming fewer, or as many as you need. One way of doing this is by using exercise tapes. However, not all of them will work for every person. Some are endorsed by celebrities and may not be as effective. If you are looking for kayla itsines alternatives, for instance, you may want to think about doing something that can help you stay fit while also keeping you motivated. All exercise reduces stress and helps you sleep, but if you play a team sport, you may find that the encouragement of your new friends and the distraction of competing and playing the sport as well will help you to keep going back. You could also try to motivate yourself by competing on your own. If you try swimming, which is great because it exercises all of your muscle groups, you could go back each day and try to improve your time or your stamina. The challenge of improving these arbitrary metrics may be able to take your mind off the physical part which can be rather strenuous and difficult.

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Making the right decisions for a healthy you are not always easy. Temptation is everywhere, and it is often so persuasive because it seems easier than doing the opposite, which is getting up and doing some work. However, in the long run, looking out for your health is the best decision you can make.

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36 thoughts

  1. Well I think we must be eating healthy food and I love the mediterranean cuisine, I´m a lucky man but unfortunately lots of programs about cuisine , diets, restaurants, my kitchens rules MKR, I love the oz edition more than top chef, master chefs so on and lots of programs and it´s only a business as diet book so on.
    We must be wise and eating all foods in a nice proportions and our wallet as brain are our friends it you chosen the wrong way … you´re a fiend.

  2. This year, my husband and I discovered the only weight loss program that’s ever made sense. He’s tried every diet imaginable over the years (diets don’t work, for a whole host of reasons) and we’ve both lost weight for short periods of time doing Weight Watchers.

    This program is so simple, logical and easy that I wish I could buy stock in it! It’s called Naturally Slim ( and it works by teaching you the fundamental science and behavioral reasons behind weight management.

    Since we started in Sept (he was offered this through the university where he teaches), my husband has lost 40 lbs and I’ve lost 20 (finally back to my normal size). Key learnings:
    it’s not FOOD that’s the problem, it’s how much and how often we eat it. If food were the problem, skinny people wouldn’t be able to eat pasta! Exercise is great for weight MANAGEMENT but will not really help you lose weight. I can attest to this b/c when we started the program I’d had surgery and couldn’t exercise for months but I still lost weight.

    Simple tips: Make sure you stay hydrated, esp. in the morning; avoid sugar; chew slowly and put your fork down between bites.

    If any of your readers struggle with their weight I urge you to check this out. It’s not cheap (though it’s “on sale” at the moment) but darnn if it doesn’t do the job. For life. xoxo, Alisa

  3. I think this is a very good post! You bring up an absolutely important point, though it is great for people to be comfortable in their own skin, and body shaming should not be allowed by anyone, it is good to keep in mind that being over weight carries health risks. I personally fall in a category where based on what the scale says I am considered “overweight”, and had never been in that category before having a kid. Though I am trying to be OK with my post-baby body, I also realize that shedding a few extra pounds would be good for me. We have been thinking about having a second child, and I am concerned about getting pregnant before losing some weight since it could set me up for gestational diabetes, blood pressure complications, and so on. It is not a negative thing to say that carrying extra weight is not good for your health, that is the truth!

      1. Oh, I didn’t mean that you’re my dad’s age 🙈. It’s just that I heard it since I was a little kid ☺.

  4. Well-written and sensible piece, Ula. It is a lifestyle choice we have to make and once in a while give in to the goodness of processed food. Moderation as you point out is It.

  5. It has truly become a religion – to follow certain diets, exercise routines and standards. Some would do anything to achieve them, quickly and painlessly, and there are companies, magazines, etc. that are just waiting around to offer easy fixes. But if you don’t do it in a balanced manner then it won’t last.

  6. You bring up some excellent points. I believe in moderation, just as others have said. Constant deprivation of foods we love is depressing and can lead to binge-ing. Life is too short not to enjoy yourself sometimes with the foods you love, even if they are not the best, as long as in general you are trying to eat healthy.

    As for body image, of course it is disgusting how much pressure society and the fashion/beauty industry puts on women to be stick-thin (which in itself is unhealthy), and it’s very upsetting to hear size 6 women described as “plus size!” On the other hand, there also is something disturbing about seeing women who are clearly obese, even morbidly so, flaunting their bodies and embracing their “curves.” Those are not curves — they are fat rolls, and these women are clearly putting their health in danger! I am not talking about those of us who have a few pounds to lose, but women who are clearly at an unhealthily high weight. Promoting an unhealthy body weight/image of either extreme is unwise. Common sense needs to be the key!

  7. I think if we all take small responsible steps towards a better lifestyle then being healthy isn’t that tough. It can be as simple as preserving unhealthy food for once a week or ditching the lift to take the stairs. And with the increasing glamour of healthy diet being healthy can actually be quite fun !!

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