More than one-third of U.S. adults (34.9%) are obese. Additionally, almost twice as many women as men who are not overweight think that they are. 25.3% of men and 47.9% of women defined as within their normal weight range think they weigh too much. Whether it’s actually needed or not, that equals a whole lot of people with weight concerns.
Sadly, even when we know better, changing for the better is hard. While millions of people run out each January determined that this will be the year they lose weight and get in better shape, most people quit the gym after 6 weeks.
Having just started on my personal quest to get physically fit once more, I have encountered a lot of stumbling blocks that makes me understand why some people have trouble breaking out of the loop of one failed attempt after another.
Just about every person has some kind of guilty pleasure; one of my favorites is a scoop of vanilla with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, and butterscotch drizzled all over it. Obviously these things are not very healthy and when you start out full of enthusiasm for your new endeavor, it is easy to put them aside. But what about days that cause stress about your quest to improve? Say you go a whole week and your weight stays the same? Or parts of your body are hurting all the time because of the new activity level you have? A lot of people cave at the first sign of frustration and are back at their old habits.
Americans spend over $60 billion annually to try to lose pounds. Gym memberships, diet programs, even new workout clothes all drive this section of the overall self improvement industry. A lot of people get exited to change, but after their motivation flags and they wonder if the money spent is worth it. Some look at the costs and get frustrated, and give up before they start.
Some people have been doing breakfast at the same coffee house or doughnut shop for years. Others have lunch every day at their favorite “greasy spoon”. It is easy to take on calories without even thinking about it. One of my personal downfalls is a glazed doughnut and a Venti Peppermint Mocha at Starbucks to the tune of 980 calories. My regimen right now calls for about 1850 calories a day. So I am halfway there, with very little real nutrition. If I didn’t have a fairly good metabolism all these years I would probably look like a whale now.
Let’s face it. Even people who claim to enjoy exercising don’t look like they are having too much fun during the process. So if these sculpted athletic types sometimes have trouble pushing on, how much harder is it for someone not physically used to that sort of thing? Having recently gotten back into keeping myself in shape, I am rediscovering all kinds of new muscles…because they hurt. It would be very easy for a lot of people already unhappy with their lives to quit in the face of one more thing making them feel badly.
It is hard enough some days to get out there and hit the treadmill just because you are tired and sore. So now you get to the gym and the person on the machine next to you looks like something out of a movie about Greek gods, clad in flashy colored and fairly revealing spandex. You look at yourself in your loose fitting t-shirt and frumpy sweats, and the thought comes to mind it’ll take forever to look good as the other patrons. Add to that the people who seem to come to these places and treat them like a sweaty, grunting singles’ bar. The aches and pains and shortness of breath are bad enough without an audience.
Very often, people end up overweight as a result of being unhappy about other things in their lives. Sometimes people will not even be hungry, but are comforted by wrapping themselves in a blanket, plopping down in front of the tv, and drowning their sorrows in something just for the taste to cheer themselves up. This can quickly build on itself, as now, in addition to whatever else was bothering the person, they are now overweight and uncomfortable.
On top of this, there are all manner of electronic diversions to redirect emotional problems and keep people even less active. Considering that South Korea has over 100 clinics specifically geared toward treating video game addiction, this can be a serious threat to people’s efforts at going outside and getting healthy. There have even been stories of people dying while playing games because they stopped eating for fear of losing even a second of game time.
Thankfully, many health organizations are working to help combat some of these problems. Many gyms employ customer care reps that call patrons if they haven’t been in for a while to try to motivate them to return. Some gyms are gender specific to help mitigate the ogling that makes some people uneasy. Organizations like Weight Watchers International use customized meal plans that allow you to enjoy some of your favorite foods (just on a smaller basis) and have weekly support meetings to help keep you on track. And even video game companies are starting to build timers into their software to remind people to spend some time out of the virtual world. Hopefully, these efforts will help people get their health in order.