OK. Just my opinion here, but I’m an American and I’ve seen and experienced the obesity issue first hand. While so many people write their books about the best ways to lose weight and the reasons behind our weight loss issues, I’m living it (like many other Americans). Here’s what I think. Take it or leave it.
First off, it should be said that there are fat people in other parts of the world too. Not that it matters that much to the life of the person who needs to lose weight, but really… Americans are getting some bad press. I’m sure there are some chunky folks somewhere else in the world and they probably act a lot like Americans when it comes to eating and exercise habits. You don’t just pile on weight because you live in the United States.
When I was a kid in the 70s, there were still plenty of people talking about their need to lose weight. There just weren’t as many of them. What I think has happened is that a lot less people are living everyday lives that require them to move off of their butts. While we focus on making everything fat free and Michelle Obama shows up on kids’ TV shows extolling the virtues of veggies, we seem to be missing that big fact. We are all looking at what is getting eaten and not paying enough attention to how much less exercise we all get.
Back when I was a kid…
When I was growing up, my friends and I didn’t watch nearly as much television as kids today do. No, I don’t know the exact number of hours we watched, but I know that there was crap on television back then. Now we’ve got so much stuff to watch on television that it’s become completely ridiculous. We also didn’t have nearly as much in the way of video games. We had Pong and then Atari. Yes, I played enough Space Invaders to develop joystick callouses, but it wasn’t all I did. You see, every single day, my friends and I met outside and played. When we were younger, it was games like tag, release, or spud. As we got older, we had pick up games of baseball or football depending on the time of year. Seriously, every day we did that. Sometimes we’d just go out and catch bugs or look for cool stuff in the woods because it was better than being in a non-air conditioned house all day. We didn’t think of it as exercise. It was just what we did. Today I have to tell my own kids to take out their ear buds and walk outside into the sunshine occasionally and I’m sure they aren’t the only ones.
Fat Grown Ups
I think the problem is the same for us fat grown ups. It is just too darn easy to stay inside and not move ourselves. Paying for a set of weights or a gym membership really doesn’t do much for your waistline. You’ve got to move. It also seems like there are more snacks today than I can ever remember. Its a trap though. They put labels on these products that say things like “50% Less Fat!” and then we feel free to graze all day and eat 200% more of it than we should.
I also think that we just go outside a lot less than our parents and grandparents did. I can be outside in my yard for an hour (on a typical suburban street) and not see another person outside during the entire time. Assuming that all of my neighbors aren’t just avoiding me, that seems strange to me. Where is everyone? When I was a kid (here I go again), I remember seeing lots of grown ups outside. Of course maybe that’s another reason why it felt safer for the kids to be playing out there too. Hmmm.
We keep on coming up with new diets and new low calorie foods and new “programs” to follow. The thing is though, most of us just eat way too much and don’t get nearly enough exercise. That leads to feeling really crappy. When you feel really crappy, you just want to sit. When you sit, you usually turn on the television or the computer. When your sitting in front of your TV or computer, you’ll probably start thinking of food. When you think of food, you’ll go shove something in your face. When you shove something in your face, you’ll get fatter and feel crappier… See, it is sort of like those Give a Mouse a Cookie books. We need to break out of the cycle and step away from all of the expensive low cal snacks and television shows about people who are fatter than us trying to lose weight. Then we can all meet outside and have a pick up game of kickball.