Myths about Weight

by Jen on February 6, 2006

By Nick Sidwell

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”.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous February 13, 2006 at 2:01 pm

Great article. I am a mother of 3 and in my late 30’s. I have weight issues and insecurities that run my life and have since my teen years. Others don’t see me as fat or anything near it BUT as for myself, when I look into the mirror I see fat and all the things that are wrong with me. I am 5’5″ and have been down to 105 and that was still not good enough. I am not nor have I ever been anorexic or bulemic. I will go overboard on exercise. This really bothers me as I have a daughter, almost 12, and I do not want her to become obsessed and have a negative body image as I do. I want her to love herself and know that it is her inner beauty that counts and is important but I know I have to be sending her the wrong message. This is something that is very hard to deal with and it controls me and what I do.
I feel for the young girls out there who deal with this on a bigger scale than even I do. We as women feel we have to look perfect and we are always trying to measure up to all the beautiful, thin, and perfect women (or perfect in our eyes) on tv and in magazines. I wish that women and young girls (myself included) could really know and believe that not all men want that or will compare us to them.

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Courtney March 10, 2006 at 6:48 pm

I would like to thank you for putting up such an asoume article up here. It has made me think diffrently about my out look on dating and health. Thank You

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Jack December 27, 2012 at 7:22 am

two celbes have to gain wait for a role,one celbes trainer or w.e was like eat whatever you want babe!and the other was like NO! you have to gain healthy weight/fat and make them eat a lot but of healthy things to get fatter.vitamins aside, isn’t fat fat?i understand that but why would it matter if fat it just fat? strictly speaking about fat not vitamins and etc..

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Anonymous March 10, 2006 at 6:50 pm

I was having a really hard time battling my looks, and how i wasn’t ‘model perfect’ This article has givin me a new positive attidute. Thanks

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Anonymous March 14, 2006 at 10:36 am

Thank you for your article. Its nice to know that guys don’t really go for the barbie looking girls. I never really thought of praying to Our Heavenly Father to help me with losing weight. again, thanks…

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Anonymous April 29, 2006 at 10:01 pm

Thank-you so much for your article. It made me change my attitude towards imporoving my body. I now know that instead I should work to improve my confidence levels and happiness. I know understand I don’t need to do it for the Young men, but for me. I’ll let the Lord do the Rest. Thanks again.

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Anonymous May 20, 2006 at 6:30 pm

Wow, this article is really cool!!!!! I have been on a diet for about 2 months and have really started seeing results. I was considering getting off it when i felt i had lost enough wieght, but now i realize i need to keep eating healthy to have a healthier life! Thanx!

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Anonymous June 20, 2006 at 10:47 am

That was a really good article! Thank you for pointing out that guys don’t idolize the Barbie girls! I really liked hoe you said that most guys chose the B and C people instead of the A…

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Jenvyr July 9, 2006 at 10:09 am

I really enjoyed the article, I just wanted to point out that those hambeurgers without the “ham” or “burger” can be really good! If you get the right brand and it takes trial and error. My family is pretty much vegetarian, we don’t eat red meat, so we tend to eat tofu and those un-hamburgers regularily. It’s our diet, but we also eat lowfat things, and lots of fruits and vegetables (you should see our fridge).

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Mr. Pedantic July 29, 2006 at 5:21 pm

LDS women need to worry about their weight. Scan the relief society room to find stretched out uteri, saddle bags, and the famous, waving relief society underarms. Of all the stress that our women put on themselves, they would handle the weight of their worlds much better if they did some pilates.

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Anonymous August 3, 2006 at 4:24 pm

Thank you so much! I would always get depressed and eat at McDonalds (love the double QPC!). Now I’ve come to realize that the Father wants me to be fat, so I just eat the same way and I love my body now!

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Anonymous November 8, 2006 at 8:51 pm

Thank you so much for such a positive, encouraging article. How refreshing to read such empowering words, especially coming from a male’s perspective. Again, thank you!

p.s. I think Mr. Pandemic’s comment should be removed.

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Anonymous November 19, 2006 at 11:51 am

Mr. Pandemic’s comment was unnesassary- and frankly quiet rude
Thanks for the article- I got some serious insight on a bunch of things!

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Anonymous March 4, 2007 at 12:09 pm

I actually do agree with Mr. Pedantic. He isn’t saying that women should be weight obsessed. But that doesn’t mean that we can completely not care, and just eat whatever we want and not excercise. That’s not a healthy lifestyle. Thank you Mr. Pedantic for bring that up!

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Jenn April 28, 2007 at 1:36 am

Hey all, I just wanted to toss my two cents in on this.

I’m not the skinniest person on the planet, but I realized not so long ago that my beauty is important because there’s no other person quite like me on the planet. That’s not me trying to sound vain now, but I think we as women should be able to value ourselves as beautiful, dynamic, smart and just plain cool. I know you’ve heard it all before but I’ll say it again…

If you love yourself, the world will see what a rockin’ chick you are whether you be a size 6 or a size 26.

Oh and Mr. Pedantic? A lot of the women you’re mentioning are normally twice the age of our readers. Women and girls should, of course, have a healthy lifestyle. But they shouldn’t be comparing themselves to others.

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Anonymous June 24, 2007 at 11:42 pm

One of my favorite decorations is a little piece of paper on my bathroom mirror. It says, “I am beautiful because I believe I am beautiful.” And you know what, it’s true.
As for the rabbit food, I disagree with what you say about the faux hamburgers. If you bite into one expecting a Big Mac, you will be sorely disappointed. If you don’t think of them that way, then they taste amazing!

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Krista May 11, 2008 at 4:45 pm

I have been working on improving my body image for a long time. Someone asked me the other day if I could have my body altered what would I change. I listed almost 30 things, that’s not good! It really opened my eyes that I still need a lot of improvement. It’s not going to be easy, but I want to feel confident about myself.

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Anonymous October 16, 2008 at 3:02 pm

I was talking to a friend and we both have been exercising and eating healthy, but neither one of us have lost a pound. She was talking to one of her friends and her friend said that we should eat for our blood type. I don’t understand, does blood type really have anything to do with weight gain or loss?

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EMMI February 7, 2009 at 10:33 pm

I love this article! It made me feel so good! Thanks for taking the time to write it!

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Caitlin February 24, 2009 at 7:48 pm

This is such a great article. I’m 15 and my sister sent it to me. Sometimes we just feel like we are fat and we worry. It’s nice to know all those facts about those myths. Me and my mom keep going on and off of diets and I guess it really isn’t healthy. It’s nice to hear from a guys point of view what most of them think of us. Thank you so much for writing this!

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mrs z March 9, 2009 at 5:31 am

I have a daughter that has battled bulemia. Thanks for the great article. One of the most important things is our self talk. The savior knows all and we should be aware of our perceptions of ourselves. They are a direct link to happiness or the lack thereof. All her siblings agree she is difficult to be around. She is not happy with herself or others. That is not the way life is supposed to be. Find the good in yourself and embrace it.

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Lydia April 14, 2009 at 8:25 pm

..I am ALL for self-esteem and removing the cloud over SO many girls’ eyes about weight, but hamburger alternatives (vegetarian ones) are very tasty. I am a vegan and have been vegetarian for nearly three years…

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Anonymous May 12, 2009 at 1:34 pm

i really liked this article. it talks about the same thing my brother told my sister. my brother is on his mission and has been losing weight. my family asked him how he did it and he said… pray, don’t take seconds, stay active, and follow the word of wisdom. thanks again. this article makes me feel good about myself, and lets me know that not every boy wants a girl with a barbie figure.

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Anonymous December 7, 2009 at 9:14 am

I loved this article!!! It really helps me realize what my friends and family always tell me, how you are beautiful from the inside first, and then it shows on the outside. And usually when you are happy, it helps you want to improve yourself. One of my best friends who passed away in a car accident was one of the most beautiful girls I had ever meet, and one of her favorite things to say ways: "Insecurity kills all that is beautiful". Also God loves us, and wants us to be happy with ourselves and wants the best for us, and if getting healthier is a huge priority, he will want to help us with it in ever way that he can. Btw, I love what the Missionary said, its is true, when I find anything hard to do while I am working out or trying to make a healthier choice with eating, I pray for his strength. <3

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Anonymous February 13, 2010 at 10:27 pm

i am a 14 year old gal, and i just want to say that article is awesome, and so many of my guy friends have pointed out that girls who dress inappropriately,swear,and are unhealthily skinny are NOT appealing. its nice to know that boys are not into that! Thanx!!!! 🙂

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Anonymous February 14, 2010 at 6:12 pm

This is a really great artical and website. I found it about a week ago and have gone crazy reading alll the wonderful helpful stories. I have be avoiding the health and fitness section because I was worried that I would feel guilty about not working out or eating as well as I should. But truefully I feel a lot better. Most people I know say I am a very skinny person, but I shrug it of becasue alot of my friends are way more skinner than me and I find myself sometimes feeling like if my stomach is not completely flat looking while wearing a shirt I am fat. This acrtical really opened my eyes when I realized that guys like the B and C type of body better and I consider my self somewere between A and B. This makes me think I don't have to worry so much, that I am just right the way I am and it means alot to me. I think I have dragged on enough, thanks for the artical.:)

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Anonymous April 23, 2010 at 5:01 pm

This helps, thanks!

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