Saturday, July 30, 2005

Weighty Issues

I was shopping in Wal-Mart today (heaven help the small grocer with a Super Wal-Mart in the neighborhood), and I stopped to pick up my vitamins. I glanced curiously at the weight-loss supplements. Each proclaimed to offer some untold magic that would unlock weight-loss on anyone's body - that fat is literally going to slide off of you, if you shell out the funds and take this product. I know from personal experience how damaging these pills and shakes can be - and reading their descriptors, you certainly wouldn't know the side-effects that could blind-side you. Weight is a touchy issue for anyone - whether the person is thin or heavy. Especially for women - for whom their weight and appearance seems to define their worth. I know many skinny people who must exist with the guilt of their fast metabolism, as they seem few and far between among the vast sea of weight problems that assuages our land. Every morning, from midnight until early hours, infomercials abound with the latest innovation for weight-loss and body sculpting, promising to be easier and faster than the one before. Soon 1/10 of a second will be enough of a daily workout for most machines to whip your thighs into shape. It is all a money racket, and we buy into it. These get-slim-quick pills are dangerous, yet people swallow them hoping for an answer other than what is tried and true. Women often say I don't know what it is which I respond, don't judge a book by its cover. I get up every morning between 4:30 and 5:30 - depending on what workout is planned for the morning - and I go to the gym. I work out, I sweat, I exhaust myself until I can't go any longer, and then I get ready for work. I have a weight problem, and the only way I can manage to keep weight off is to work out. I like to eat - too much, in fact, as many of us do. But my "thin" appearance is not a gift - it is hard-earned, and I'm proud of it. I don't feel "better" than anyone, but I take pride in my commitment and the strength I have gained. I have less back pain than I used to, and I can lift more and go longer distances. Most people - when they discover the secret of my appearance - say they couldn't possibly get up that early, and they are too tired after work. Look - I can relate; I'm exhausted when I go to bed at night. Some of us have legitimate life commitments that take up a lot of our time. But then you have to realize, you won't have those results that you want unless you are able to make that sacrifice. My point: anyway you slice it, it is work. Just like anything else in life, losing weight and maintaining your weight takes vigilance and effort. You miss out on certain things - like sleep! - but hopefully what you get back is worth it. For goodness sakes, do not take these terrifying supplements that are peddled to you for a fortune per bottle. There is no easy answer, and these magic pills are poisoned apples. It didn't work out too well for Snow White, and most of us don't have a charming prince in the wings. Aside: the health benefits of losing weight are critical for most of us. That being said, I hope we get to a point where we can accept that the average woman is beautiful - these magazine glossies are nothing more than air-brushed sticks. I now look at magazines and wonder why we think these women are attractive, when their perfection does not even begin to hedge on reality. The real woman, with her curves and imperfections, is where beauty lies - the kind that you can touch and enjoy watching as she crosses a parking lot or works at her desk or watches her children as they eat. That is what beauty is - not a 2D image that is worse than a needle in a haystack.