Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thumbs Up or Down? Do In Your Face Ads Help Parents Face Facts About Fat Kids?

Have you seen the recent debate about the GA Ad campaigns about the dangers of childhood obesity? Here is one  example of a TV ad. There are also billboards.

Here's a copy of an article from Sun Sentinel that is pretty much in your face with its opinion.

Your kid is fat -- admitting it is the first step

By Nicole Brochu
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

It's official, pathetic as the confirmation may be: We have become a nation that, at least in some corners, would rather coddle our children than be honest with them, even if facing facts can save their lives.

Facts like: Yes, Bobby, you're fat. But we can do something about that.

Georgia is using that bold approach, in hopes of chipping away at its unenviable ranking as number two in the nation for child obesity. The state's "Stop Childhood Obesity" campaign ads are powerful, provocative and just the kind of no-nonsense candor the fight against obesity could use -- in every state in America.

"Chubby kids may not outlive their parents."

"Big bones didn't make me this way. Big meals did."

"Fat kids become fat adults."

The ads' potency is only enhanced by the spokespeople delivering the refreshing message: fat kids. The children may be actors in an ad, but the truth in their words are no less real for them than for their audience.

And yet, while the nervy campaign has "won enthusiastic praise" from some health advocates, according to a Huffington Post report, it has also "outraged parents, activists and academics" who fear the ads only perpetuate the stigma already shrouding obesity.

To which I say, baloney.

This is what happens when people dance around the truth for so long. Confronting it seems so foreign, so blinding, that they'd rather keep their heads in the sand, to our children's peril.

"Billboards depicting fat kids are extraordinarily harmful to the very kids they are supposedly trying to help," the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance officials told the Huffington Post.

"Stigma is not an effective motivator," Rebecca Puhl, a Yale University psychologist and expert on weight discrimination, told CBS News.

I have news for these people. The billboards aren't "depicting" fat kids. They're showing fat kids as they are -- without mincing words, for once, about the dire health consequences.

The ads aren't stigmatizing these kids for their weight. That horse is already out of the barn. And the ads are not putting targets on overweight children's backs. The targets are already there. The only way to take the target off, and dump the health problems, is to take the weight off.

Just ask Maya Walters, who played Tamika in the Georgia ad campaign.

"This ad actually helped me, gave me way more self-confidence than I had before," Maya told Meredith Vieira on the "Today" show. Maya said she has been bullied about her weight, but not because of the ads.

Crying stigma and bemoaning the straight talk only distracts and undermines the campaign's worthy goal: to jolt awake the many well-meaning yet clueless parents who refuse to accept that their children are in danger.

As the ads point out, "75 percent of Georgia parents with overweight kids don't recognize the problem," and I hardly think other parents around the country fare any better.

It's time we try a new approach, because sticking our fingers in our ears, as enticing as this tactic has been, isn't helping.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17 percent (that's 2.5 million) of America's children aged 2 to 19 are obese -- a rate that has almost tripled since 1980.

We need a little more honesty in the dialogue, and a lot more dialogue. As parents, it seems, we worry so much about hurting our children's feelings in times like these that we are putting their very lives at risk instead. If you were a parent of a fat child, would you think that was the right choice?

Accessed on May 12, 2011 from:,0,5133849.htmlstory

Here are images from the campaign (from the Atlanta Journal Constitution)


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

3 Meals, 2 Snacks Down

So for the first day of my "Fall Focus"--taking it one day at a time as Hubby and Jack both advised.

Came in a few calories shy of my nutritionist  prescribed 1800 calories. Woo hoo.

So for breakfast I had Fiber One cereal mixed with Fiber one honey clusters and 1/2 a banana.

My really tasty, unusual lunch was minute brown rice with broiled yellow squash with a few sun dried tomatoes and 1 T low fat feta along with an orange.

For an afternoon snack at work I had a peach and 3 graham squares.

While waiting for dinner, I had a few Ry Crisps and a light Laughing Cow cheese.

Dinner was very extravagant --a 4 oz. tenderloin, with fat free refried beans, and canned spinach (not my favorite but it'll do).

Down side is that i missed my training session yesterday because I had a doctor's appointment and it was raining this AM so I didn't swim. . . but tomorrow I'm swimming or walking on the treadmill, no excuses.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Last 2 Years

I started this blog nearly 2 years ago. The goal was to try to inspire myself to lose weight.

Today I went to see a nutritionist in my doctor's office. She looked at my chart and my weight from when I was first there about 2 years ago.

It was 1 lb different.

She said, "This tells me you have learned weight maintenance. And that is a good thing."

She also said that I couldn't say trying to lose weight hadn't worked for me because I hadn't been trying.

She gave me a few handouts--a page from the food guide pyramid web site, and a picture of a plate with 1/2 of it filled by vegetables. This is all there is to offer. The only tools. I know these things. I write these things. I write these things much more motivationally than the ones she gave me.

If it's so cut and dried why do I make it so hard? Not trying is hard. I lost 60 lbs on Weight Watchers in less than 9 months, and I've spent 2 years fretting like a crazy person and had a 1 lb difference.

I am not a crazy person. I am not a stupid person. I am not a weak person. I should be focused enough to be able to do this--to hold onto the thought of wanting a different life long enough to get past the rough spots.

One thing that strikes me as a potential obstacle is that I really disdain how demonized fat people are. How people talk about being fat as though it is the worst possible thing you can be. I know a woman who had multiple abortions because she didn't want to take birth control pills because she didn't want to risk gaining weight. Now that seems crazy.

A few Christmas's ago, my daughter-in-law skipped the page in The Night Before Christmas that showed Santa smoking a pipe. She didn't want her daughter to think Santa was a bad man. Smokers are demonized.

I will not be surprised at all if Santa goes through some kind of graphic transformation to get thinned up. Like the vegetable eating Cookie Monster.

I don't want to be this fat. It's debilitating physically, emotionally, and socially. But it's not because I think fat people are ugly or lazy or weak willed.

And it really irks me that there is all this media to prevent childhood obesity and adult obesity like it's such a terrible terrible thing, but there really isn't much out there to help obese people--except handing them really simple instructions on a piece of paper or telling them to consider bariatric surgery.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why Didn't I Think of This Snack Before?

I'm not sure what made this dawn on me, but earlier this week it struck me--why not a small salad for my  mid afternoon  snack?

So one day this week, I brought a small amount of mixed greens, mixed with a few chopped leaves of fresh mint, with some fresh raspberries to put on them, with 1 T of low-fat Asian Ginger dressing and 1 T of Feta cheese. YUMMY!

Then, the next day, I brought the greens & mint, topped with some cantaloupe chunks, a few raspberries, and pineapple salsa. ANOTHER WINNER!

What's more, is the salad takes a lot longer to eat, and so feels more satisfying (not to mention the feeling of nutritious self-righteousness it elicits) than the 3 to 5 bites of a "bar."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Activity, Elliptical, Inspiration, Omron, Upbeat

It's Vowel Headline Monday apparently.

So my company is starting this wellness "competition" in the office. If you sign up, you get a very nice Omron pedometer that I had bookmarked as a replacement to the last Omron I had that um. . . got washed.

The event doesn't start until August and goes through the end of Sept. The rules are you have to hook up your pedometer to the Internet tracker at least 50 days in that time in order to not have $28 come out of your paycheck for the pedometer. (Hey, you'd still save $.) And if you do, I think you automatically get $25.

Plus the team that has the most accumulated steps gets an extra day of vacation and I think some kind of meal.

It's caused quite a bit of hubbub in our office. So I started wearing my pedometer early to get the reality check.

Day one: just a day in the office, no exercise: a sad 3708 steps. Going to see my trainer helped a bit. . . 4932. And the best day was Friday, when we train in the gym and include some laps--6900.

So this week's goals include hitting at least 5000 steps each day. I'm trying to work my up so by the time the competition starts, I can be shooting for the standard 10,000/day.

Today is a home run because I did my  training and stayed to do the elliptical for 30 minutes. (I've catapulted far from my early part of the year's success after Hubby hurt his knee and abandoned the gym at least 2 months ago.) So it's 11:43 and I already have 6615 steps.

I'm not sure how much I will walk with the "team" in the GA heat. Compared to the "average" woman's stride of 2.2, mine was 1.6. . . . but I am inspired and feeling pretty upbeat about it.

My contribution may be more along the lines of follow the leader in loops around the office!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Longing to Be as Well Trained as My Dog

Several times I've compared my experiences with healthy eating to dog training. When reading Lyn's post Off the Floor about her ease of getting up and down from the floor, I find myself longing to be as efficiently trained as our sweet Golden Doodle, Yeats, who we work with repeatedly to move freely and quickly from any of these positions to the next: sit, down, and up.

If only I could move as smoothly, energetically, and enthusiastically through a quick succession of movements like these:
Down (lying down)
Up (standing)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Freeing Myself From Comfort to Sit With Discomfort

I've been thinking about how easy it is to fall into being comfortable with being obese. You just kind of lose touch with yourself--stop looking too closely in the mirror, keep wearing slightly too large clothes, don't see others besides your usual companions, and basically stick with the routines that keep you from having to face yourself.

And then something happens like it happened to me last week that suddenly snatches you out of that comfortable routine, bumping you rudely across some reality checks, like:

  • You get on a plane and realize you've forgotten your personal seat belt extender and sit through the flight with your seat belt unbuckled because you've already asked for one twice from the flight attendant and none of them seem to notice you're unrestrained, which leaves you feeling invisible (but still huge and ugly). 
  • You can't pick up the pen you dropped on the floor while you're in a seated position.
  • You see yourself reflected in the elevator door behind other women and realize your shoulders are at least half again as broad as theirs, like they are women and you are some other species.
  • You wake up with heartburn so bad that you have to get out of bed and sit in a chair until it goes away.
  • You realize you can't keep up with a friend who you used to leave in the dust when you walked together.
  • You're working on a program to help others get healthy and you're desperate to claim the good feelings you promise them.
And then, you think about what you have to do to leave these esteem-crushing feelings behind, and it dawns on you that leaving the comfort means needing to face some uncomfortable situations, like:

  • Not reaching for your standard breakfast cereal that you tend to overindulge in
  • Sitting and waiting for your slow-eating husband to take his next bite because you're determined to not finish your meal before he's half way through like you usually do, so you're pacing him (it took him 3 minutes, I watched the clock)
  • Stopping eating before you feel totally "full"
  • Drinking water when you feel hungry instead of eating whatever you can get
  • Climbing the stairs in the office even though you know you'll arrive at your next meeting slightly breathless and people may notice
  • Taking the time to plan and shop for healthy meals over the weekend even though it feels like you're stealing time away from more "relaxing things"
  • Pausing to monitor calories and fat grams before you put them in your mouth and adjusting as necessary to stay within healthy limits
  • Stop avoiding exercises that you fear might make your knees hurt and try them, slowly. . .
Once again, I think about what we learned as we trained our GoldenDoodle, Yeats. Our trainer, Wendy, told us we had to help Yeats learn to get through feelings of frustration so she would learn she couldn't always have what she wanted and would learn to respond to our "commands."

If Yeats was acting out on the leash, we were supposed to pick her up and hold her until she became completely relaxed. (This was long before she weighed 50 lbs!) The key was not get frustrated ourselves. Just to breathe, hold her, let her fidget, until she quieted and calmed down, and not to put her down until she did. Wow. What a lesson for a little puppy.

Now I have to do that for myself. It's really tempting to avoid the frustration all together.

It might help me to picture my acting out as embarrassing and frightening as our "Cujo" puppy was on the leash --imagine myself as a "mad" dog that needs to relax through her frustration to become a sweeter, more socialized being on the other side of it.

Wow. What a lesson for a 47 year old fat woman.