From Point A to Point B

In my previous post I talked about the meandering line one often takes when trying to figure out solutions to health problems, rather than the linear reductionist approach which often leaves many stones unturned.  We cannot come to the conclusion that a single “thing” caused something to happen when we should also consider other factors that might play a role, many of which might not be very impactful by itself, but can be quite significant if many of these small, seemingly insignificant factors come into play at once.

Going with that meandering line theme, I mentioned to my sister today that diet trends are like that.  There are so many out on the market these days.  Not all are bad, though it really depends more on what sort of intervention an individual can incorporate more permanently so that the diet is a lifestyle change rather than just a quick fix.  They all start with Point A in which one wishes to lose weight, whether for aesthetic reasons or health reasons.  The hope is to get to Point B eventually.  Diets which are more restrictive tend to yield results more quickly, hence arriving at Point B with a much faster eta.

Whatever the case may be, obsessing over the path of Point A to Point B doesn’t do anyone any good.  With enough effort, we all get to Point B eventually, though I’m sure the vast majority of people would rather get there sooner than later.  However, more and more I’ve been seeing diet trends that are so damn complicated that I don’t know how most people can find the time to figure out how to incorporate it into their lives, especially when they work full time and have children to drive here, there, and everywhere.  This is because a common social determinant that negatively impacts people of all socioeconomic levels is lack of time, which I believe is a major contributing factor to the obesity epidemic.

Lack of time keeps us from devoting time to ourselves and our families.  It also prevents us from exercising more, hitting the fast food drive thru less, and further adds to the ever-accumulating stress that we can never seem to shake ourselves of because… we don’t have time.  It is already a challenge for some folks to gain affordable access to healthy food, what more to the added challenge of preparing these meals, then somehow making it to the gym or at the very least a brisk enough walk around the neighborhood to count for the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

So how about we make the path from Point A to Point B a little more scenic?  Take the time to incorporate healthy habits so that most of them stick, but even more important, take the time to learn about yourself so that you understand what sabotages your efforts and feel far less defeated when that happens because you know you have the ability to pick up where you left off and continue on.  There are always set backs in every journey, but if the end result is a better understanding of your own health, then it is a path of discovery that is definitely worthwhile.

 

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No easy solution.

36.5% and $147 billion.  That is the obesity rate in the United States and the financial burden in healthcare costs due to all the chronic conditions related to obesity (1).

Ironically, the diet food industry and health club industry make $20 billion and $26 billion a year in revenue, respectively (2,3). The dietary supplement industry is also quite lucrative, with $32 billion in annual revenue (4).

Obviously, “just do it”, “drink this shake”, “pop this pill” are not working when more than 1/3 of the population continues to be obese. Instilling the mentality that an individual can achieve the goal of a healthy weight if he/she wants it badly enough places a great deal of responsibility on the individual to address a complex health issue that is made all the more difficult because of the stigma that follows it.

I sometimes question why I decided to take a more difficult path when the fitness industry I have been a part of for nearly a decade is already full of “experts” who have proven Googling skills rather than a research-based graduate degree. But I have to remember that this isn’t about working towards rock hard abs or a bikini-ready body by June, but rather finding real solutions to an epidemic that is the second leading cause of PREVENTABLE death in the U.S. after tobacco use (1).

We want a quick fix, and it isn’t a quick fix. Yet life demands so much from us each day and to be honest, it really is easier to just order a pizza.

References:

  1. Adult Obesity Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html. Updated September 1, 2016. Accessed April 23, 2017.
  2. ABC News Staff. 100 Million Dieters: $20 Billion – The Weight Loss Industry By the Numbers. ABCNews. May 8, 2012. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/100-million-dieters-20-billion-weight-loss-industry/story?id=16297197. Accessed April 23, 2017.
  3. Health Club Industry Overview. International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association Website. http://www.ihrsa.org/about-the-industry. Updated June 30, 2016. Accessed April 23, 2017.
  4. Lariviere J. Nutritional Supplements Flexing Muscle As Growth Industry. Forbes Magazine. https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidlariviere/2013/04/18/nutritional-supplements-flexing-their-muscles-as-growth-industry/#3bf5e7c08845. Accessed April 23, 2017.