Fitness professionals expend considerable energy helping people to lose weight, but there’s another way to view this challenge: What are the main factors that cause people to gain weight?
Research shows that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese (Ogden et al. 2014), a health condition associated with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and various cancers (breast, endometrial, colon and prostate) (Malik, Schultz
The Internet offers plenty of opportunity to share helpful, positive content. However, it’s also a hotbed of negativity, especially when it comes to discussions on weight.
A study facilitated by researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Rockville, Maryland, wanted to understand the types of conversations that are taking place on this subject. Using a commercial Web-crawling tool, the investigators explored popular social media sites and pulled posts that included fat, obese/obesity and/or overweight. The process lasted 60 days and culminated in 1.37 million posts.
The percentage of women aged 50 and over who are satisfied with their bodies is quite low, accord- ing to research from the Journal of Women & Aging (2013; 25 , 287–304).
The report was based on information from 1,789 women, who reported body-size satisfaction on a figure-rating scale. Only 12.2% of respondents were satisfied with their bodies.
“Satisfied women had a lower body mass index and reported fewer eating disorder symptoms, dieting behaviors, and weight and appearance dis- satisfaction,” the authors reported.
When I was growing up, I was proud of my body. No one had shorter shorts than I had. I didn’t think twice about how my clothes fit or what I was eating. After I started college, I grew a few sizes pretty quickly and began thinking about my body image. I heard a few comments here and there about my body, and my clothes no longer fit. I knew I needed to change.
Because of the wealth of research on eating disorders in women, people often mistakenly think of these illnesses as exclusively female problems. However, binge eating—defined as eating excessive amounts of calories over short periods of time and often in private (but without purging, as in bulimia)—is
a disorder that affects both men and women.
newsletter_teaser: It’s documented that a portion of the population suffers from low self-esteem and body image issues. Some of those individuals may be willing to make significant sacrifices to obtain the “ideal body,” suggests The Succeed Foundation Body Image Survey, which included 320 women from 20 British universities.
Two human behaviors explain why we’re still here: engaging in sex and consuming food. Both are inextricably linked by dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with reward and pleasure. It’s what motivates us to read all three volumes of Fifty Shades of Grey or to inhale a plate of mom’s homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. To date, procreative activities have maintained their primal prerogative without too much deviation from nature’s blueprint.
For most of us, being content with what we have, who we are, what we do and what we look like is very challenging. We are flooded with images of people who are better-looking, have more wealth or are better at doing something than we are. And it will always be that way. We can’t control how beautiful, successful or talented others are. What we can do is avoid comparison—and practice contentment with who we are. For those of us who study yoga, that includes contentment with our asana practice and with our physical limitations.