Is the Health and Fitness Industry moving in the right direction?
As usual I have found myself questioning the direction of the health and fitness industry and the messages they are dishing out. First it was the TV show the Biggest Loser ticking me off, and now it’s almost every health and fitness magazine on the market.
Seriously, what the hell are they doing?! Sorry, but I really cannot stand how some things in the health and fitness industry are being taken over by the advertising market and big business. On many levels, I feel like the health and fitness industry has become no better than the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, I have decided they now have some love affair with each other — or at least in cahoots. You see, at the end of the day, everything comes down to money — everything! Health and fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry — an industry that has no signs of slowing down. An industry, like many in America, is developing some very bad habits.
Let me explain:
The other day, I was cruising through the drug store. No, I was not buying drugs. I was purchasing my normal goods — toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc. — when I came across the store’s magazine rack. Now, I am not a big magazine reader, but I sometimes like to check out what some of the national health and fitness magazines are saying about what is healthy and how to stay fit. Honestly, I see very little value in any of these magazines. However, I like to know what the average Joe or Jane is reading so I know what I will be up against when trying to really educate them.
I was in a little bit of hurry so without even looking at one page, I purchased two health-related magazines — Health magazine and Fitness magazine. I figured, how bad can they be? Well, I think you will be amazed with what I found:
7 advertisements for pharmaceutical drugs. Really?
14 advertisements for processed foods, including low fat ice cream bars, microwave popcorn, Slim Fast shakes, and goldfish crackers.
4 ads for weight loss supplements (all are major stimulants).
4 ads for over-the-counter drugs.
So, if that wasn’t bad enough, check out Health magazine.
12 advertisements for pharmaceutical drugs (yes 12).
15 advertisements for processed foods — anything from cereals to soups to Jiffy peanut butter.
2 quick weight loss diet plans.
AND an article on the benefits of vodka — apparently you can drink it AND use it as facial astringent. Who knew? Now you can be a clean-faced drunk.
Now, I am not against anyone advertising their products, but don’t you think it is a little misleading and unethical to have all these unhealthy items advertised in magazines called Health and Fitness? I certainly do.
As a fitness and health educator, I find it completely frustrating to read magazines like this because I know this is what the general population is reading and this is what the general population is following and doing. Once these people get to me, I have to first try to unwind all the misinformation they have received just to get them back to square one.
Quite frankly I cannot blame people for being confused. Every day we are all bombarded with information about what is supposedly healthy for us. It’s coming from everywhere — magazines, internet, TV, radio, smart phones, etc. No wonder everyone is so confused. We are entrusting our health in this billion-dollar industry — an industry that on so many levels is failing us, while making BIG dollars doing it.
Health and fitness didn’t become a billion dollar industry by making us all fit, healthy, and happy. If everything they were telling us was true, most people would be fit, healthy, and happy. And we are not. The problem is we are only getting fatter, sicker, and unhappier. The problem is we keep buying the dream, and the dream is not existent… at least how they are advertising it to us.
Let me give you a few examples:
NO! Those fit healthy men or women did not get fit by using the ab roller, the shake weight, the bow flex, thigh master, or whatever fitness product they are advertising. They were already healthy and fit before they ever touched the damn things.
NO! That person did not get super thin and fit by taking that weight loss pill and doing nothing else. They were already fit and thin — they are called “fitness models”. That’s their career to look like that.
NO! That person is not that happy after consuming that antidepressant drug. They are acting!
NO! That processed low fat ice cream sandwich did not help that women get a 22-inch waist!
NO! Slim Fast shakes or any weight loss shakes for that matter are NOT good for you. They are all processed crap. A shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and sensible dinner is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. What a great way to lose weight so you can gain it all back in 6 months… PLUS an added 10 pounds.
NO! You cannot lose 10 to 20 pounds of weight in one week and have it be healthy. I don’t care how you do it!
I could go on for days and days about all the false misleading advertisements out there in the health and fitness industry. But I think you get my point.
Oh geez — I feel like I may be pissing some people off right now.
Look, I certainly do not dislike the health and fitness industry. In fact, I love it. I have been in this industry for almost 20 years and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I’m just a little disturbed at how much misinformation is out there and how many of my clients and friends are getting more and more confused. It makes no sense to me that 12 drug ads should be in a “health” magazine. There is absolutely nothing healthy about any drug — it may make you feel better for a while, but it is NOT healthy. I hope you know there is a difference.
We must all remember in today’s world that everyone wants to sell you something — something that makes you thinner, fitter, prettier, ageless, and smarter. We want to believe them because, of course, we want all those things. The truth is, there are no easy shortcuts to getting healthy and fit. There is no special piece of equipment that will make your abs flat, thighs thin, and butt rounder than just plain old body weight exercise and a good eating plan could do. There is no special pill that will make you look like a model. Real health and fitness take work to achieve and can be accomplished without special gadgets, pills, and calorie-restrictive diets and foods.
To achieve real health and fitness you just need these 10 things:
A desire to get better
An exercise plan that challenges you
Note the lack of low fat ice cream sandwiches, sugar free cookies, antidepressants, or the ab roller on this list. As simple as this list is, I know it is a challenge for most of us to completely follow it. Why is that? Is it because we have all been lead to believe there are easier routes and shortcuts we can follow? Well, as you can see, the proof is in the pudding — we are spending billions on all these nonsense items and all we are doing is getting fatter and unhealthier. Stop reading that article on 10 ways to make your butt smaller. What you need to do is just get off your butt and start moving. Stop thinking that a Slim Fast shake is your answer to a thinner waist — metabolic stimulating food is what is going to work long term. And finally, stop believing you can achieve REAL health and fitness in 21, 30, or 90 days. Real health and fitness is a life long journey — the end is when you end. End of story.
Your Optimal Health Coach,