Maybe it is just me but there seems to be an incredible amount of aggressive anger in the healthy living community regarding bad and sometimes even good habits some authors state they notice trends. Recently a blog caught my attention regarding valid points relative to obesity in America and the cost of healthcare. The author recommended fat shaming as a valid approach to managing the epidemic and that obese individuals should not be happy or content with themselves. The blog also included a comment regarding Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” and “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge” initiatives as not being the solution. Really? She has national attention and is more than likely making more of an effect than this individual just by shear math. There are certainly aspects though of the blog with which I agreed but never to the point of shaming anyone.
The claim was that by the “What’s up with that fat gut” made by a friend, his eyes were opened again to health and fitness and that it made all the difference for him. Ok. That worked for that particular person and I am guessing that approach will work for many. Truth should be told and pacifying someone’s unhealthy habits is not necessarily a good thing. However, the idea of shaming anyone of which a person does not have a relationship with is utterly ridiculous.
A person’s desire to change ultimately originates from within. Whether it is for fitness, financial, family or any personal development, a single or consistent shaming is not an appropriate means. At the same time, coddling and enabling is not a grand idea either as it can certainly have the effect of promoting poor decision making. There is always a middle ground and that middle ground can take many shapes and I think it is important as a fitness and nutrition adviser that that is understood. Who knows, I may begin to train someone someday in which that approach appears to be the most effective but I am betting it does not. As the saying goes
I don’t want my approach to be confused with not intermittently providing some tough fitness love. I do that on a daily basis with myself when I want to end a run a mile or two short (it does occasionally happen) and apply it with clients as well. But, my opener is never “Excuse ma’am or sir, but were you aware that you are overweight and making my healthcare insurance cost rise? You should really do something about that”.
The decision to make positive changes should be objective and not fueled by the subjective anger of a fitness “professional” that views those that don’t live with the same intensity and dedication to healthy living as “weak”, “lazy”, “useless” (all of which are adjectives used in some of these articles) or any other negative connotation.
Again, while I most certainly agree with the general concept in many of these articles that as a nation we have a lot of work to do to reverse the unfortunate stray from healthy living, we can collectively do a better job by openly inviting people to participate and promoting the positive and OBJECTIVE aspects of improving someone’s health and not by focusing on the negative components of that individual’s current state. I am definitely aware that my little blog will not even reach as many as most of these blogs out there but then again, I try to pay attention to those things that I can control and that would be how I approach healthy living with myself, family, friends and clients.