The Shanty

The Shanty
where I grew up

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Diet and Exercise Gold Mine

Do you know the reasons you diet and exercise? Those two words go hand in hand (or so media has us believing) to mean “ways to lose weight”. Then when the word diet became taboo its new meaning was synonymous with “food”. Saying “my diet consists of…” no longer means “my cut-back, healthy foods consist of…” but rather “my food consists of…” that way it can be marketed without appearing to be “special” foods to help you lose weight. So we are taught that we must pay attention to our diets (food) and exercise in order to lose weight. And while this is true whatever happened to the real reason we should be doing these things—to become and/or remain healthy?

I guess companies couldn’t make any money that way. Could you imagine an infomercial promoting a healthy diet and exercise plan for the sheer purpose of feeling good?! Of course not! That’s not good enough! We all want to shed some fat and mold our bodies into whatever these programs tells us is sexy. Right?! Wrong. Actually my answer was right until very recently when I decided to shift my focus.

I have struggled with body image for as long as I can remember, as I’m sure a lot of you out there have as well. We all want to look good and be desired, we want to feel sexy and unashamed to strut out by the pool in a bikini. And guys want their tanned arms cut with muscles while wearing a sleeveless top and they want their pecks to be more than just some saggy moobs. All of this is fine but how about those of us who are miserable all the time…so uncomfortable in our own skin? We try so hard to eat right and exercise, hoping…waiting for the weight to come off and when it never does (or it does then rapidly comes back) we’re right back to feeling miserable again.

I was recently asked if I considered myself to be healthy. I didn’t have to think very long before I answered “Yes.” Blood work at the doctor later proved this to be right. Every test ran was in the healthy range despite the fact that I am overweight. And according to the BMI chart I’m obese! This is not true however as I have weighed heavy my entire life. Two different friends of mine, who are the same height as me, told me that when they weighed what I do right now they were at least 3 sizes in clothes bigger than me sooooo…I am not obese but I definitely am overweight and could stand to lose some fat…around 20 pounds worth but I do feel and am healthy.

I exercise regularly and eat healthy. So why am I not losing any weight? I’ll tell you why…because I have been “good” for the reason of wanting to lose weight and not to remain healthy. I do like to eat healthy now, just to be healthy (it took me years to get to this point though) but as far as exercise goes, my main reason for exercising has still been to help me lose weight. Boy, what a mistake this has been. When I don’t see results I get very discouraged which in turn affects my eating habits (sometimes even just subliminally) which as you well know, does bad things to body weight. What a vicious cycle I’ve been on for years!

I know how to diet (old definition) and exercise to lose weight but I know it’s only temporary. So I learned how to diet (new definition) to become and then remain healthy and now I need to get my exercising to this point as well. What this is allowing me to do is STOP WORRYING! I’m no longer depressed when I don’t see my weight decrease. In fact I got rid of my scale a few months ago and no longer have any idea how much I weigh. It has been nice. My body is not where I want it right now but at least I feel healthy. And that needs to be more important to me than trying to become “sexy”. Okay, so I have the food part down now what about the exercise part??

Going to the gym without the intent of busting as much ass as possible is going to be tough. That is what I am used to doing. My new intent needs to be to go and do at least 30 minutes at whatever intensity I feel like that day. I know to switch it up to condition my heart and other internal functions but other than that…that is all I need to be thinking about- at least 30 minutes of whatever. No more 1.5-2 hour sweat fests of killing myself every day to try to lose weight. Now if I spend that long at the gym it needs to be because I’m having fun and I don’t care if I lose weight or not, I know it’s a proven fact that exercise is good for my body—both physically and mentally.

I strongly believe that once I start behaving in this way I will become even healthier than I am now. That is probably going to mean losing weight but if it doesn’t that’s okay too. So I’m a little overweight! That’s okay. I know I’m healthy and I know how hard I work to stay that way. The other perks will follow. Until that time I will try and learn to love the body I have now, reminding myself that it’s a healthy body. I do think that one day I will be comfortable in my skin visually but until then I need to be focused and happy with the body I have internally. I know a lot of skinny people who are far unhealthier than I am. Skinny does not equal healthy by any stretch of the imagination.

MY NEW FOCUS: Eat healthy and exercise to remain healthy. Period.

Losing weight will naturally follow. I have to trust this. And more importantly I have to trust that if it doesn’t happen than it’s okay—I’ll still be one healthy broad! :)


  1. Great attitude! We live in a world where what one person does, or does not do, affects every other person. When one person makes a conscious decision to be unhealthy, they are and will forever be affecting everyone else. That person is bound to have future health problems, and attempting to rectify those health problems will no doubt be taxing to an already strained health care system. Therefore, it is a responsibility for every person to be as healthy as possible, if not for themselves, then for everyone else.

    I have always been of the opinion that dieting (in the traditional sense) is a bad thing. Our goal should not be to lose weight. Weight loss is important but is a result, not the goal. The goal should be to live a healthier, more active lifestyle. As you said, transitioning to this type of lifestyle is not going to shed the pounds in any short term sense, but it will have long term benefits. When one considers that 3500 calories is about equivalent to 1 pound, it is easy to understand how leading a healthy lifestyle will not yield the same results as (traditional) dieting quickly.

    Additionally, dieting teaches you nothing and does nothing to help curb bad eating habits. Long term health will teach you how to eat right and exercise properly.

    Good on ya Amy. Lead the healthy lifestyle and don't get discouraged if that only translates to 5 pounds of weight loss in a year. You will be better off in the long run anyway.


  2. Good attitude to have Ms. Amy! ;D

  3. hey there! i don't have weight issues but have had stomach/intestinal issues for as long as i can remember and therefore have spent countless hours researching online and reading every healthy eating book out there. these are my three all-time favorites so far which have helped me understand nutrition the most, given my guts some relief and also helped me shed a few pounds: "primal body, primal mind"-nora gedgaudes, "eat fat, lose fat"-mary enig and sally fallon, and "the fourfold path to healing"-tom cowan. good luck w it all :)