What's the best way for us to think about our bodies, our weight, and our diet habits? Our aim is to provide you with new, realistic ways to think about this stuff, in hopes of dispelling some of the drastic ideas about weight and body image that you get from most media sources.
Celebrity bodies, fad diets, intense training programs-these pervade our culture, and combine to give us a skewed idea of how to take care of our bodies. Weight and physical health are individual matters. Because of this, any diet, weight loss, or exercise program should be tailored to each person, and should be balanced with the other circumstances of his or her life. Popular diet and exercise programs (think of the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet, and other big-name solutions) typically apply drastic strategies and try to sell them to the most possible people. Well, these strategies just can not work for everyone. Each of us has a different life, with different activities and stresses, and therefore with different demands on our bodies.
Someone training to run a marathon, for example, could not afford to go on the Atkins diet-it would rob her of the carbohydrates needed to fuel her training. Someone who spends eight hours a day located in an office with want to eat fewer carbs and calories, but still make sure to get enough nutrition. We need to balance activity with food intake-when you expend energy, you'll need to replace it with calories and carbs. This is a more adaptive, personal approach than a strict diet plan. There are all sorts of factors in a person's life, and a ton of ways to balance them out for optimal health. At the beginning of this issue, we introduced you to the CRAFT model, which is a tool for thinking about life balance. CRAFT comes in handy when thinking about weight. If you're thinking about changing your diet or your fitness program, do not look for for big, famous programs. Look at your life. Look at your context and circumstances, and determine from where what behaviors you should change, and how to change them.
It's about balance. Fad diets appeal to us by advertising huge cuts in carbs or calories. Flashy exercise programs emphasize intestinal workout routines and long sessions at the gym to attain ripped beach bodies. Dieting and exercise are of course great ways to get healthy-but we just need to keep them balanced. And that balance depends on you. You have got to consider your own metabolism. You have got to consider your own health conditions and family history. And you have also got to consider your priorities, your activities, and how you want to spend your time. Do you want to sacrifice hours from your social life, or from your work, to be at the gym?
Maybe you do-maybe exercising is a huge priority for you, and is something you derive enjoyment from. But know that the choice is yours, and that there are other ways to get healthy without adopting massive, strict programs that force you to decide between health and other parts of your life. You can work healthy habits into your existing routine. As a writer and editor, I spend a lot of time in front of the computer screen. My life is sedentary, and consist of long days and nights writing, editing, and poring over research. I do not follow a strict diet, and I do not have the time, or the desire, to hit the gym for an hour or two every day. But I practice healthy habits. I drink water constantly. I eat nuts, dried fruit, and baby carrots while I work. I take breaks to go on mind-clearing walks; when I have more time, I'll take a long bike ride. Because I do not do too much hard exercise, I try not to overeat, and try to avoid junk food. I eat based on the energy I need, and let my activities and routine dictate my calorie make rather than sticking to a strict daily limit. I do not have a strict mindset, but I do have flexible habits that respond to my priorities, desires, and needs. Everyone can achieve this-it just takes a little thought.
-Functional Therapy Magazine