By Kelley Vargo
This past week has left me in deep thought about our American state of mind and health. Being a fitness and wellness enthusiast, I often wonder what goes on the minds of other people. What motivates us to be or not be healthy? Three important happenings made me investigate a little further into the health/wellness mindset of today.
First, my advisor at George Washington University, Dr. Todd Miller, showed a documentary this past week that explored America’s obsession with being the biggest and the best. This mindset seems to be fueling all aspects of the American way: work, school, sports, etc. The film “Bigger. Stronger. Faster.”addresses the use of anabolic steroids in sports performance. This is just one way in which we are driven to do whatever it takes to be the best. And is it really the best? What in our minds defines the perception of “the best”? Despite my previous knowledge on the effects of hormones, the documentary was informative and had me questioning my own reasons for doing what I do. I can’t lie, I always want to look my “best.” I caught myself thinking, “Gee, if only testosterone didn’t cause hair growth, a deep voice, and make me look like a man, I wonder how much stronger I could get?” Sad, but it was true, I guess that’s the drive to be better, faster and stronger coming out in me.
Next, later that evening I received a phone call from a family members asking me what I knew about the HCG Diet. She has a few friends who are currently on the plan and have lost 30 pounds in 30 days. Sounds pretty amazing right? Too good to be true? You bet! HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin hormone, is a hormone produced by pregnant females. I immediately jumped online to research the diet and I was shocked to find out what the diet entails: 500 calories per day, strict food guidelines, no exercise, and requires injections, pill form, or tinctures of HCG to be administered. Is it just me or is this diet just a fancy name for anorexia? What is rational about any of this? To me, nothing. Not healthy and definitely not sustainable. If behavior modifications are not made eventually, the initial weight loss will come back and more. There is truly no way to get around good ol’ fashioned correct nutrition and exercise.
Finally, on Friday, I had an amazing opportunity to see a preview to Darryl Roberts sequel to America the Beautiful: is America Obsessed with Beauty, America The Beautiful: Health For Sale (in theaters August 2011). Roberts dispels the use of Body Mass Index (BMI) which is measurement used to assess body composition/health by taking a person’s weight divided by their height squared (kg/meters squared). This index is currently used by healthcare practitioners and insurance companies to assess health. According to BMI, I am considered “overweight.” In fact, any bodybuilder or person who carries a lot of muscle would be considered obese, while a runway model, who may have a high percentage of adipose tissue (aka “skinny fat”) would be categorized as normal or even underweight. How is this tool any use of gauging a person’s true health? Placing numbers and categories on people without really assessing their composition and biochemical make up is hardly a valid measure. Again, as a society, we tend to be obsessed with image.
Sometimes it seems we will do whatever it takes to get “thin” or get “big,” anything to be the best. And for some reason, many think, “Once I reach that goal weight, body composition, or physique I will be happy.” We may manipulate our bodies by injecting substances, starvation, strain relationships, and lose ourselves. All for what? A number?
Image comes and goes. We are all growing older one day at a time. The most fundamental element of health comes from within: it starts with your soul. You are the perfect image right now. You are the perfect you right this second. There are no short cuts to health: no 30-day diet, no syringe, no pill. Health is a lifelong achievement. It starts from the moment you wake up. It’s a choice from second to second, meal to meal. It is choosing a salad over French fries, it’s taking the stairs instead of the escalator, it’s laughing instead of stressing. These little things we do day in and day out will lead us to our optimal state of being. If it is a physical change you aspire to bring about, it takes time and dedication, as well as purpose. Choose foods that nourish your body, make time to exercise, and most importantly love yourself. If you cannot do this, no diet, no mirror, no outfit ever will make you happy.
Let’s embrace America’s new motto, or at least what I think it should be: Love Yourself! Good luck and have a great week! ox Kel