New Year, New Unhealthy Gimmick

Happy 2012 everyone!  I hope you are looking forward to this New Year as much as I am.  I’ve got some really great stuff on the horizon, and I just can’t wait to sink my teeth into all the opportunities. Plus, I survived another Philadelphia New Year with all it’s celebratory gunfire and Mummer fueled debauchery.  I even got my strut on.  But before I go any further, can we talk about all the New Years diet gimmicks being neatly packaged as “wellness” and a new lease on life?

I know, not much of a segue, so sue me.   But the truth is it’s January 4th and I’ve received no less than 13 different local offers to lose weight, be happier, and get a “new me” by taking their class or workshop.  I can only imagine that the number would be so much higher if many of the wellness workers in this City didn’t know me or read this blog, thus knowing to leave me off the invite.

New Year’s Day might be an arbitrary one for bold resolve; only made more relevant than the other 364 days of the year by all the literal glitz.  But for what it’s worth, New Years seems like a great time to think about the year past and give us some perspective on what we might like to change.   I certainly have no issue with adopting better life habits, with taking stock of what is truly going on in our lives, or with deepening practices of what works for us.  But where is the point where we are no longer pushing “healthy”?

First, let’s explore what “health” really means.  We’d like our bodies to work well physically and mentally, and be free from disease and injury if at all possible.  Generally, we take this to mean eating right and exercising, among other things.  Most of us could probably do something to improve our overall health, and many of us may be ready to shed some weight. Hopefully, we’re making these decisions because they are medically sound and not because someone is selling us happiness.  As a recovering anorexic (something I discuss here) I can attest that skinny does not necessarily equal healthy or happy. True too is that being what some may call “overweight” does not necessarily make someone unhealthy or unhappy…but for a better presentation of that, I’d suggest swinging by Dances with Fat as Ragen Chastain writes much more eloquently on the topic than do I.   Being healthy is a moving target, and what has to be done to get there or maintain that level of health varies greatly.  Crash diets are NOT a part of a healthy lifestyle.

One of the most popular catch phrases of 2011 was “war on obesity”.  Eek!  I find it confusing that we’re vilifying fat over promoting health.  I once found a “diet” program led by someone who’s only qualification was that they sold vitamins.  And this time last year a Yoga studio right here in my own City of Philadelphia was running a weight loss program that paid a cash prize to the person losing the most weight and started their promotional facebook messages with “get your sexy body back”.  Namaste indeed.

If you are among those looking for a change in your size in 2012, check into the programs before you put down your deposit.  Find out who is leading it, their qualifications, where they studied, etc.  and how much personal attention if any you’ll get.  If you are asked to sign a release form without a health questionnaire of any kind, it’s a red flag.  A good nutritionist will want to know what your needs are before advising anything.

For those wellness professionals offering a “New You in the New Year” diet program, first please ask yourself if you are even truly trained and qualified to tell people what to/not to eat on an individual basis.  Unless you are trained in nutrition and physiology, you aren’t. Reiki practitioners may wish to see my previous post here.  If you are qualified, sensitivity in your marketing and throughout the program is key.  You may understand that each participant is on a unique path, but they may not.  Lead by example, and do your best to prevent students from comparing themselves to each other.

In closing, 2011 was one Hell of a year.  I don’t fault anyone for wanting change on any level.  I’m looking forward to it myself.  And on your path to bigger and better, may you find it easy to listen to your heart and not everyone else’s BS along the way.

“Shoulds” are soooo 2011.

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