Let’s face it, getting into shape takes hard work. That’s why it’s commonly said that to lose weight and get into great shape, the first step is wanting it. If you don’t want it badly enough, you won’t be prepared to put in the work, so you’ll never achieve it, right? Simple!
Well, for a lot of women there’s one step that comes before wanting it, and that’s getting honest with themselves. The first thing they need to get honest about is the fact that they actually DO want to look good.
I’ve heard so many overweight women in the past say that they’re happy the way they are. When I hear that, I ask them this question . . . “If a genie granted you a wish that you could suddenly be in fantastic shape, right now, without any exercise and eating what you’ve always eaten, would you accept it or not?”
Of course the answer is always yes, because as I said, everybody wants to look good. The truth is that they just aren’t prepared to pay the price of getting into shape, because the pain of doing that is greater than the pain of staying the way they are. But that’s very different to being happy the way they are.
It’s human nature to want to avoid pain as much as possible. So when our beliefs tell us that we can’t achieve something or that it will be too hard to achieve, and we have to accept that we can’t have it, we do whatever we can to make ourselves comfortable without it, including lying to ourselves.
Imagine if you were convinced that getting into shape was either impossible or absolute torture, and every day you gave yourself grief about being overweight. Your life would be a misery! So naturally, you lie to suppress the pain. It’s understandable.
The problem with this lack of honesty is that it removes any incentive to change. It gives you permission to give up the fight or not even try. Why would anybody go through the pain of improving themselves when they’re perfectly happy the way they are?
To make matters worse, the people around overweight women also encourage them into believing everything is fine the way they are. People and society in general are very sensitive about suggesting to anyone directly that they’re overweight. This is because they themselves are afraid of being judged, of hurting people’s feelings, or of being labeled as cruel. So they add fuel to the dishonesty around being overweight.
We have all heard about people and companies who support the use of more so-called plus-sized (overweight) models. This is so that average and overweight women can feel happier about themselves. Once again, this isn’t helping anybody. They’re trying to spread the message that this is what real women look like, which may be true, but it’s not what they should look like.
And while it may make overweight women feel more comfortable in the present, it takes away from a potentially healthy future for them, by encouraging them to believe that they’re like everyone else and being overweight is OK. So in reality, this is very harmful.
So what’s the answer then? Should they continue to use the skinny fashion models that we see in magazines today? Definitely not. Society has a responsibility to discourage unhealthy behavior, and being grossly underweight is very unhealthy. But so is being overweight!
At the root of the problem is the incorrect belief that overweight people can’t change, that it’s out of their hands. This is why people that are overweight lie to themselves and why society is so willing to perpetuate that lie. This is why society believes that making them feel bad about being overweight is just cruel and has no benefit.
As with any area of life however, honesty is always the best policy. If you’re not in the best shape, be honest and admit that you would prefer to look better. Then you can go about working out what you’re prepared to do to make changes. If you’re only prepared to do a little, that’s OK, it just means it will take longer to get there. There’s nothing wrong with that.
If you’re not prepared to do anything at all to get into shape, that’s OK too, as long as you’re honest with yourself and admit that you can change, but simply choose not to. That’s your choice. There are many things that I would like to do in my life which I probably never will, simply because there are only so many hours in the day, and I have higher priorities. So I choose to do those things instead and I’m OK with that.
As for the media and society in general, on the one hand it’s well aware of the obesity epidemic and the cost of poor health and obesity on our health system. But on the other hand it’s reluctant to create a culture where being fit, athletic and healthy is most desired. It simply doesn’t have the courage to be “cruel to be kind”.
Imagine if trainers and sporting coaches took this attitude, and kept their protégés in the dark about world champions and only had them train with second-rate opponents, to make them feel better about their own limited abilities. Would they be helping or hindering their growth?
Sometimes the truth hurts, but in the end it will always set you free!