“#” for Pound!

“#” for Pound!

Written by: J. Stokes – November 24, 2015

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When will this talk of obesity end?! We get it, Americans are fat. How many times must reports indicating stats such as “75 percent of men and 67 percent of women ages 25 and older are now overweight or obese” be brought to the forefront? What changes are needed for MyPlate or the recommended amount of daily exercise to bring a halt to this trend? Most importantly, what are the main sources of our country’s plight? Are there any takers for this inquiry? Any at all? We do have a comment section for this blog you know!

Well, here are some theories. First, we live in a capitalistic society, which means money, money, money! Who can argue against the fact that the majority of Americans put great emphasis on hustling, thriving, and surviving?

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Make money by sitting at your home. (Image Credit: askpinoyblogggers.com)

Think about your everyday 9 to 5 gal or guy, sitting at a desk all day in accounting. Did you know that prolonged sitting decreases the activity of lipoprotein lipase (LPL), an enzyme that helps burn fat in the human body? How’s about we turn our attention to the classic single mother of two, working two jobs. Do you think she’s getting enough sleep? Sleep deprivation can, in fact, lead to weight gain by increasing one’s appetite, decreasing energy expenditure through lowering body temperature, and prompting people to partake in unhealthy diets.

And then there’s our second point: technology. According to a 2013 Huffington Post article, “our leisure activities have shifted to heavy ‘screen time’ with movies, games and social media.”

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We have technology gif. (Image Credit: sossolteiros.bol.com.br)

Whatever happened to going on a walk or playing a game of tag during one’s down time? Repeatedly we are being told by reports, studies, and even media experts that technology is making us sedentary. This lifestyle has, after all, contributed to the vast array of health problems people face on a daily/monthly/yearly basis. Conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and health disease are not uncommonly seen in those who frequent the internet, watch “Girls” (that is to say, television), or marry their iPhones (yes, we went there).

But alas, money making and technology go hand in hand. What do you think the average person does after getting some down time at home from work? Maybe watch television? Or you may consider people’s enjoyment of the entertainment provided by social media these days. It makes you wonder whether a “tweet” means more than lifting one’s feet. Have you ever stopped to think that going on a nice walk or even eating a more balanced diet could actually produce benefits similar to the exhilaration felt through technology? For example, studies have shown that even five minutes of moderate exercise could lead to mood enhancement. Is there a way for people to be healthy without forfeiting technology?

Recently, there have been many advancements in technology to help individuals live a healthier lifestyle. From Wii Fit to Fitbit, manufacturers have made it possible to incorporate fitness, as well as some elements of nutrition, into the technological advancements of today. While innovations such as those aforementioned are indeed a breakthrough, an issue still remains. Americans as a whole remain fat, and rates of overweight and obese individuals with poor health continues to climb. It seems folk would rather post a picture on Instagram about their latest meal rather than learn how to control their caloric intake…

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Insta food. (Image Credit: dhirajmurthy.com)

But wait, that might just be the solution! According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, virtual support groups for fitness and nutrition may help motivate people to lead a healthier lifestyle. More specifically, Zhang et al. (2015), the authors of this study, purported that peer networks can significantly improve participation levels regarding exercise programs, specifically, while also increasing levels of engagement with physical activities. So maybe the answer to America’s fat track record rests with interactions made via social media.

A possible inference that can be made about social media’s resourcefulness with regards to physical activity and nutrition is that it allows people to view pictures of progress.

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Maria Kang. (Image Credit: soiwillrun.com)

Personal trainer Shawn Jones once stated in an interview for The Columbus Dispatch that fitness posts are about accountability and inspiration. So maybe seeing a picture of your progress, whether it be through fitness or a diet change, may help individuals maintain a certain healthy regimen. Pictures in general are an excellent motivator. However, as always people should be aware of what gets put on social media. Sometimes helpful advice or showcasing one’s progress can turn into fat shaming or unwanted conceitedness.

So at the end of the day, Americans are still fat…in an unhealthy, totally not Queen Latifah or Ashely Graham type of way (we use fat in this post here as a synonym to being unhealthily overweight). But on the bright side, what seemingly contributes to our issues as a nation could also be our saving grace. So, the next time you are online chatting about Jessica’s new boyfriend, why not use that time to set up a support group for fitness and nutrition? Or maybe you can document your own journey towards a healthier lifestyle. Lastly, remember that being overweight does not necessarily mean one is sickly. But, the lifestyle one leads when overweight should be taken into consideration.

**Please be sure to share with us your thoughts about this post in the comment section. Thanks!!

  • Updated: November 30, 2016
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One Comment Add yours

  1. Katerina says:

    So true! A couple other things to consider…

    1) Have you heard of the visual food trigger theory? There is a theory within nutrition-psychology that humans are visual eaters. Because humans have evolved from hunter-gatherers, our appetite is triggered by visual triggers (we are not hungry, but an opportunity arises and food is available, so we “turn on” our appetite and are now hungry to take advantage of that food availability). Over the past couple of decades there has been a boom in visual food triggers (advertisements on TV, billboards, internet, etc) and it is not a coincidence that this exponential increase in visual food triggers has coincided with the obesity epidemic.

    2) Health practitioners often complain about the “strange” phenomena of people wanting to be healthier and lose weight, but rarely actually changing their behavior. While there are many factors that contribute to this situation, I’ve learned about a few things in my clinical psychology class that shed light on this. The majority of human behavior is dictated by our unconscious, which “works intuitively and automatically and is relative unresponsive to new information or changing circumstances” (Shedler, 2010, “Psychoanalytic psychotherapy for the rest of us”). Furthermore, the unconscious is often guided by memories, past experiences, judgement (pressure from parents, society, etc), etc. Therefore, it is understandable that is is difficult (perhaps, impossible without therapy!) for people to change their behavior without bringing to light the motivators/drivers behind their unconscious.

    Let me know what you think!

    Liked by 1 person

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