Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

You're a kook if you're healthy

You hear about social pressure to be thin and negative prejudice towards those carrying extra weight.  It's true, but I'm going to talk about something that is also true, but never discussed.

You're an idiot, an out and out kook, a fool actually, if you do anything healthy.

If you do unhealthy things, you're cool, you're accepted, you're supported.

Of course this doesn't apply to everyone.  There are plenty of cases where healthy choices are a supported and a shared positive experience.

Quite often I'll have weight loss clients and athletes alike confess that one of their largest challenges in adopting a healthy lifestyle comes from their family and friends who admonish, tease, and even alienate them for making healthy choices.

It seems like for many living unhealthy or least making unhealthy choices very frequently is part of living life to its fullest.  Eating healthy or exercising interferes with time that could be better spent overeating or being inactive. If you make healthy choices, others may feel that you're losing it, or perhaps being a killjoy and interfering with how satisfied they feel when they make unhealthy choices.

When you're packing away your second serving of deliciousness you don't need some health freak cramping your style by eating broccoli.  "Idiot.  What kind of idiot eats broccoli?  I can't enjoy my meal anymore because I have to witness this fool eating little tree's."

People have told me that they're not welcome anymore at family dinners unless they eat what everyone else is eating, which happens to be high fat, high sugar, high sodium, high calorie food.  You know.. the stuff that kills you slow.  To top it off they're expected to fill their plates and go back for seconds or thirds.

If you don't go back for seconds something is wrong with you.  You're depriving your self, which is just silly.
Silly you for not overeating!  Don't you know any better?  Don't you know how to enjoy life?

I have men and woman who lose weight healthily be told by their friends and family that they look ill, gaunt, and too skinny, and that they need to eat more.  In reality they are more healthy and fit than ever; cholesterol has dropped, blood sugar levels are normal, blood pressure decreases, risk of disease is decreased, they're stronger, more flexible, more rested, and feel better than ever.

It may be that with 70% of men and 60% of woman in Canada being overweight that we're accustom to seeing our friends and family being overweight.  Overweight is normal, statistically. So when we see someone with 5-15% body fat we think they look weird compared to the more average 25 - 35% body fat.  This is a little strange because if we're watching sports and looking at athletic bodies, those athlete's bodies appearance is accepted, expected, perhaps even revered. But when our friends and family's body appearance starts shifting towards the athletic look, for some reason this is spoken of disparagingly.

It's interesting, if not perplexing to live with the contradiction of social pressure to lose weight and look lean as well as pressure to not lose weight, not be lean, and avoid being a kook.

People have told me they've been brought to tears when they're deluged with negative comments regarding their attempt to include healthy choices in their life.  Others while not brought to tears become very frustrated because it seems so counter productive to be the recipient of put-downs for being healthy but showered with accolades when engaging unhealthy practices.  They've told me they can't understand why wanting to improve their health get's them the cold shoulder, but being unhealthy is encouraged. Somethings not right with that.

Some have told me that their friends and family have expressed that they don't want to be pressured to part of, or be exposed to healthy lifestyle changes, and the message is; "keep it to yourself, weirdo!"

I'm then told that friends and family have no compunction when it comes to openly applying pressure to eat unhealthy or to be inactive. "Eat, eat! You don't eat enough! That working out stuff is stupid.  Why don't you do something enjoyable?" It does seem somewhat hypocritical to openly pressure people to eat unhealthy but then protest when someone else eats healthy because apparently the mere act of eating healthy is exactly like telling someone how to live and rubbing it in their face.  People feel torn between wanting feel good about being healthy and fit, and sacrificing their health to keep the peace with friends and family. 

I've heard it said that friends and family can feel that get-togethers can't be enjoyed unless everyone is overeating.  They feel that healthy eating jeopardizes the social experience and no enjoyment can be had. Could it be that this perception is somehow mistaken?  Food is such a great catalyst for human socializing.  Great food set's the tone for great times had by all.  Enter healthy food and it's like the music is cut off.

Many feel very strongly that eating healthy kills social gatherings.  Too bad, because it's really about the people.  At least I thought it was.  I've been to great get-togethers with great tasting healthy food served, which made it all the better because not only do you enjoy the food and company, but you don't feel bloated or lethargic afterwards.  So maybe it's all about perception..

To justify their health oppressing behavior, those oppressed have told me they've been told that being healthy is overblown anyway, that is actually stupid to lose weight, exercise, or make healthy eating choices.  It's just a dumb fad, it's annoying, only freaks do it, get a real life, and on and on.


Yes.  Really.  This really does happen and if you're a recipient of this you know it all too well.

I don't really know how to overcome this.  What I've seen happen in successful situations is family and friends either got over it and became accepting and supporting, or they eventually started to adopt the same healthy habits and started feeling better themselves.

I'm not sure who is expressing an intelligent decision making process better, the person downing a bag of potato chips and a few beers in utter bliss, or the person enjoying the flavor bliss of a blueberry - banana fruit smoothie after an exhilarating workout.  Arguments can be made for both for sure, and some may make room for both.  Whatever the case, when it comes to friends and family, maybe being supporting of healthy changes is better than being negative.