Healthy Weight Loss in the New Year
As health care providers, we fully recognize that excess weight leads to higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other serious health conditions. But we're equally aware of the tragic consequences of a nation striving to look like supermodels, unable to accept their own unique bodies.
This constant striving directly leads to millions of women (and some men), suffering from eating disorders, and frequent irreversible health problems, in addition to the obvious emotional and psychological damage that tens of millions of 'normal' women endure, as they live, often joyless lives struggling with society's relentless demand that they be thin.
There is a huge difference between making positive changes to live a healthier life and making changes because of one's shame for their own body - in pursuit of cultural acceptance. We unapologetically say, if a patient had to choose between being a little heavy and being at peace, or being thinner and consumed with weight and appearance - and the disgust a woman often feels for her own body - being overweight may be a better choice. What's happening in America today to the psyches of American women (and some men) is sheer madness.
As practitioners, we are left in a quandary between encouraging our patients to make positive changes in diet and lifestyle habits and, yes, lose fat if necessary, but at the same time, vigorously advocating that patients love and accept themselves today, however far they may be from their ideal body composition.
Health cannot be achieved through hating our bodies, but only by embracing ourselves, exactly as we are today, even if it is far from our ideal body composition. Enough chaos exists in our hectic lives without creating battles with our own bodies.
It is imperative to our health and happiness that we live in harmony within ourselves and that we shower ourselves with positive self-talk, even while the media floods our senses and emotions with images that reinforce the idea that we are not enough.
Advertisements abound that are targeted at manipulating vulnerable people to feel less than adequate in comparison to the skinny and beautiful models of the media. The effects of this are toxic to not only our minds, but also our bodies, and must be changed.
Take at least five minutes every day to sit in silence and tune in to your own body. From a place of non-judgment, listen to how you talk to yourself and ask yourself if those are the messages that you really want to believe about yourself.
Parents, never talk about your dissatisfaction with your weight in front of your children; this gives kids the idea that their bodies are something that should be changed.
It's time for the American people to stand up and be counted, and say no to the exploitation of women. It's time for American women to be liberated from this travesty. It's time for American men to tell their wives, girlfriends, sisters and mothers they want their loved ones to be healthy and happy, and not to buy into this fat phobia. Current and future generations of American women's lives lie in the balance.
We are attempting to continue the dialogue on this critical issue of our time. We would appreciate your suggestions.
Dr. Dennis Godby, Doctor of Naturopathy, Sutter Medical Foundation.
He may be reached online or at his Sacramento Office (916) 446-2591.
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