Thought for the Day--April 19, 2011: Taking Exercise and Diet Advice

Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet, 1694–1778)
Portrait by Nicolas de Largillière (1656-1746)
Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.
That Voltaire! Who knew he could offer quips so a propos for 2011?

In the above portrait, the humorist looks fit (and cute) enough, but as we all know, portrait painters were (and are) commissioned to emphasize the positive and gloss over the flaws.

Ah, vanity is thy middle name!

Now on topic:

On this very site, I have said that we can learn from naturally slim people by studying their normal eating habits, but now I'm going to turn this notion on its head by advising when we shouldn't follow their advice blindly.

Clueless slim people often toss around simplistic dictums, such as
Losing weight is simple: stop eating so much!
In a literal sense, this is true, but if it were realistically so simple, we would all be slim and no one would ever struggle with weight. So when a skinny person (who has never struggled with weight issues) blurts out this nonsense, I roll my eyes and think, "Sure, whatever."

The same goes for exercise. If you have been exercising for years, then jumping on the treadmill for a 5-mile jog may be a piece of cake, but for a 300-pound beginner, a 1-mile walk at 2.5 mph may be a physical burden and darn near impossible, at least without proper guidance. It also may be dangerous, possibly triggering an undiagnosed medical problem (heart or skeletal issue).

So when I see buffed trainers on The Biggest Loser or even Heavy pushing overweight and obese participants to exercise hard, my questions to them:
Have you ever walked in their shoes? In other words, have you ever been overweight and out of shape? How hard have you worked for your perfect body?
If their answers are "no," "no," and "not very much," then the only advice I want from them: the nuts and bolts of exercise and diet, the professional aspects, no empty clichés.

No trying to push me past my capacity, no lecturing, and no silly rah-rahs.

As an overweight person, I am more likely to listen to and be inspired by someone who understands what I'm going through, someone who has walked in my shoes.

So when taking advice from a slim person, try to determine if she or he has ever been overweight and/or out of shape. If not, then don't take his or her "empathy" too seriously.

On the other hand, if this person has battled weight and exercise issues and conquered them, then listen carefully because she or he has been where you are now and will speak your language.

At Weight Watchers, all of the employees have been where we are are right now, so one can be assured that any advice offered comes from hard experience!

Keep well, my cyber friends.


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