Myths about Weight
Do you think you’re fat? Are you unhappy with your weight or shape? Here are some things you should know.Our country is obsessed with weight and looks. It’s like that book from Max Lucado about the Wemmicks (“You are Special”) who all want lots of stickers for being beautiful and talented. Likewise, I think we all do stupid things to look good. Let me tell you, I even gained weight recently and got scared- it happens to all of us. I know I am just the “Average Joe” male who wants to be tough and fix everything and I only have a guy’s perspective about what girls go through with weight issues, but I hope I can help. If you are looking to lose weight, you may be interested to know what I have learned.
Here at college, I have had my eyes opened a little. I have friends who suffer from eating disorders, and so many girls I know work out every day and are still unhappy with their weight. Does this happen to you? If nobody has told you yet, entering college brings a new facet to life. I am not talking about dating without parental supervision or staying up all night and cramming for finals, I’m talking about what they call the “Freshmen 15”. Sooner or later, you may notice the pounds coming on as stress and parties with junk food become more prevalent. Before you know it, you have 15 more pounds to love. Even guys get the bulge on the belt!
I used to study communication but I started studying sciences because I decided I wanted to apply good communication in the healthcare world. I learned that there are myths behind body image, and weight-loss. It took me semester after semester of science courses to understand the truth about these myths. Now I want to share some of my findings with you so you can better understand weight-loss and weight-gain…
Myth #1 I am fat. This myth is my own personal observation. The girls I talk to and overhear talking about weight seem way more concerned with what the weight looks like on them than how much of it there is. Watch what you think about yourself, because “fat” is a perception. Everywhere in magazines, on TV and all across the internet, models are being used to represent beauty. It makes girls believe that guys only want a skinny model with 2% body fat. The media has such an impact on girls that I would guess many of you actually see yourselves and think “fat”. If you don’t look like Barbie or Jessica Simpson, does that mean you are fat?
Fat meaning ugly is also a perception. In many cultures including some African cultures, for example, fat means wealth. If you can eat enough to get fat, it is a sign of having plenty which means you are well-to-do. Their perception is that fat is a sign of wealth, so most would rather be fat than thin.
As a guy, I was surprised to find out just how much girls compare themselves to others. There was a study I read about in a communications course where a picture similar to this one was used to determine perceptions of what is attractive in body shape and size…
The women were to choose which figure they thought would be considered attractive while men chose what they thought was an attractive figure. Most of the women chose “A” while most of the men chose “B” or “C.” Obviously, the media has more of an influence on women and what they consider to be the ideal body size and weight.
So guess where that perception comes from? Comparing! It is sad but TV and media only show models. None of us are models but we are all supposed to be like them. Does anyone else see the irony in that? Are we all supposed to be the same and not different? The adversary loves to encourage us to compare ourselves to others to make us feel bad about ourselves. That brings us to myth # 2…
Myth #2 The more I weigh the fatter I am. Like my nutrition professor says, scales are a poor indication of fat. If you start to exercise regularly and build muscle your weight may not change though you may be losing inches and fat. Here's why: Muscle tissue weighs more that fat tissue. As you get in shape your weight might stay the same or even go up as your body loses the fat and gains muscle. If you don’t know this, you might get discouraged after a while and think you aren’t making any progress. All those female exercise trainers on the videos or in the gym—they probably weigh as much as I do and have more muscle than I do too- but don’t tell anyone....
To determine your weight loss progress try measuring inches around your body instead of just reading the scale. By toning up, you will also be able to see the fat going away. Keep in mind though; it does take a while for this to happen. Don’t get confused about the scale; it doesn’t measure fat, just weight.
Myth #3 A short fad diet will do the trick. Simply put, when you think you’re fat, you want to take action. One of the worst actions is dieting. Let’s clarify, because there are two uses of the word “diet”. One is “what is eaten and drunk habitually” as in “I try to have a pretty healthy diet.” We are talking about the other use of the word, which is when you eat a certain way for a certain amount of time in order to lose weight. Real weight loss requires changing your behaviors. If your old behaviors come back, the weight comes with it! Almost all “diets” will make you lose weight. Did you hear that? ALMOST ALL OF THEM WILL WORK! You are thinking, “Wahoo!” but the problem is, the first part of the weight loss is only loss of water, protein (muscle tissue) and a substance called glycogen- which gives you energy. The fat never even leaves until after these three things burn off first. So guess what happens when you end the diet? You got it, it all comes back and all the fat never even left.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you don’t think that you could or should be on this diet for the rest of your life (a complete behavior change) then don’t do the diet at all. Some people have even made their bodies resistant to weight loss because of going on and off of diets so many times. Their body gets used to it and saves even more fat to protect itself from the future diets. Don’t let this happen to you!
The second thing about diets is that the only ones that really work are the ones that take time. A good calculation is how much weight you lose in one week. A good diet will have you losing a pound or two a week; no more than 5 a month. If you lose more (like 5-10 lbs in a few days), there’s a good chance you are not burning fat, just losing water or muscle. Oh, and diets should always be coupled with some form of exercise because muscle burns fat- starving doesn’t. A simple diet of just reducing calorie intake alone will usually help you lose weight just like that. Things like drinking lower-fat milk or eating a hamburger without the mayonnaise or salad without the ranch dressing can prove successful. Healthy eating is part of good dieting.
Myth #4 Healthy eating is for rabbits. Healthy eating is funny because we tend to only think of “low fat” foods, diet meal replacements, or those weird hamburgers that have no ‘ham’ or ‘burger’ in them… have you ever tasted that stuff? Don’t. Healthy eating is:
1) Eating all the essential meals. You have to keep eating, (some even say six small meals a day) because if you don’t, your body is programmed not to die- which means, if it thinks it is going to starve, it stores fat to stay alive. Never skip meals!
2) Eating things that are good for you. Your brain only uses carbs as an energy source, so you had better consume carbs-- but yes, eating more than you should is bad because excess carbs turn into fat. You can find carbs without all the calories, like whole wheat bread or fruit instead of doughnuts. Follow the new food pyramid (www.mypyramid.gov). The USDA Dietary Guidelines describe a healthy diet as one that: "Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars."
Myth #5 Weight loss is easy. It never is and never was- it’s work. The more diets you have been on, the harder it is. See a registered dietitian if you need additional help. Changing behaviors for life, like eating differently or working out regularly is difficult at times. Get a friend or a family member to do it with-- that always makes it better. It is like living the gospel: there is work to do, it’s a life-long commitment, and it often takes help from the Lord. Ask Him to help you. Besides, if our body is a temple, God will want us to be happy with it and feel the spirit inside. All temples are different though, so the important thing is the spirit of the Lord inside.
Here’s a side note from the author:
I never realized how much weight-gain and feeling fat affected girls until I started dating and then got married. It is hard when you think that boys only like the girls with the figure of a model. But ask yourself “do I want a guy to use me for what I look like?”
Yes, us guys usually look for what we find attractive. It is different for every guy though. Some only date the model-looking girl because of the status it brings to them- they think having a model by their side makes them better than their buddies. Lots of decent guys I am friends with like girls that are sincere and fun to be with. The important thing to remember is that most guys, the good ones that respect women and know they are daughters of God, are looking for someone that also respects herself. I asked the LDS guys I hang around with, and they said they would rather have someone that’s happy with who they are than a skinny Barbie who always complains about being fat or is obsessed with looks. It becomes a burden to have to reassure someone all the time that they still look good.
When I was looking for my wife after coming home from a mission and dating for a while, it was the girls like my wife who knew who they were and felt good about themselves that got my attention. I personally think a smile and happiness is attractiveness. If you’ve got those, you can leave the rest to the Lord.
Good luck in your health and fitness goals! Let me know how it goes! Or if you have any questions…
Nick Sidwell has a BS degree in Communications and Spanish from the University of Southern Utah and is planning to attend a graduate program to receive a masters of Physician Assisting. Currently, he is living in Cedar City, Utah with his beautiful wife Sarah, who is a fourth-grade teacher in a small town called Parowan. He enjoys all aspects of communication, spanish, and the sciences. He also loves to receive productive comments from his readers and answer any questions they may have. You can contact him at "sidwello at yahoo dot com".