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A New Year and A New Way to Look at Weight

After inhaling all the trimmings and trappings, sugar and spirits over the holidays, you may be a bit worried about the damage all that comfort has done to your hips. If you’re still merrily and blissfully unaware, don’t worry, advertisers will soon have you wondering what diet pills really work and contemplating the latest exercise gadget. Does it really burn 10 times more calories than last year’s model?

Diet gurus not only attack guilt-ridden adults but also barrage kids who, although often singing and screaming for more sugary sweets, have little control over their nutrition. Not only have money-hungry merchandisers keyed in on the monetary advantage of shaming the pleasure of over indulgence during the holidays but the nation as a whole has found a way to make children ashamed of their bodies. The so-called “war on obesity” has turned into a war on kid’s self-esteem. To make kids feel unwanted or unworthy because society says they are overweight is unfair and psychologically damaging.

Studies have shown that kids are 66 percent more likely to be bullied for body size than any other reason. According to The Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH), eating disorders and weight anxiety are discovered in younger and younger children. They believe public health efforts should focus on creating environments and providing resources that allow individuals to make their own healthy choices about practices that are sustainable for their unique lives. For more information about ASDAH, visit www.sizediversityandhealth.org.

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The truth is, the things that actually make people healthier are not solely dependent on weight loss. Many people who are bigger are fit and healthy, and many people who are “normal” weight are not healthy. In order to enhance our health, we need good nutrition, pleasurable physical activity, restful sleep and access to quality medical care among other things.

Instead of making losing weight your New Year’s resolution, make a resolve to fuel a healthy body and feel good about food. Don’t believe labels that proclaim food healthy or “lite” and don’t believe that eating sugar or fat is all bad. Everything in moderation is best. Try growing some fruits, vegetables and herbs and cook with the kids. Aim for balance, enjoying foods from different food groups.

Also, there are no exercise “should and should nots.” Your body will benefit far more when you find a form of physical activity that you enjoy and, if you enjoy it, you will do it more often. Whether skating, jumping rope, shooting hoops or chasing around a badminton birdie, set aside some time for frolicking and horseplay. It will keep you and your family happier and healthier.

In a nutshell, don’t be ashamed of yourself or shame your kids. Question weight loss plans and listen to your body. And most importantly, have a happy, healthy New Year.

Contact Margaret Lavin at elementarydays@gmail.com.

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