Monday, July 03, 2006

“Standing on the Promises”


Take a look around. You won’t have to look very far. It’s on your computer screen when you boot up. It’s on the magazine rack as you stand in line at the grocery store. It’s in your newspaper. It’s on the bumper sticker tacked to a telephone pole.

“It” is a weight-loss promise.

According to Merriam-Webster, a promise is a declaration that one will do something specified, even a “legally binding” declaration. Wow. I take that pretty seriously, don’t you?

Unfortunately, a lot of advertisers don’t. In fact, as Federal Trade Commission chairman Timothy Muris once said, “We have known for some time now that there is a serious problem with weight-loss product advertising.”

Personally, I think reaching this conclusion must have been about as difficult as deducing that the sun is hot, but it’s always nice to have official recognition of a fact. The FTC went on to say that “Over half of the advertisements made either false statements or statements that were very likely to be false, including the suggestion that weight could be shed without cutting calories and increasing physical activity.”

Would that it stopped there. But the FTC wasn’t just talking about the pills and creams and powders that you can swab and swallow, or the various food combinations-restrictions-additions that are almost as numerous as the number of people on the planet. They must surely have had in mind as well the gadgets to “increase physical activity” that don’t always get you where you want to go. I should know! I’ve plunked down my money for enough “ab machines” which eventually ended up in the corner of my bedroom or in my garage before being consigned to the charity giveaway pile.

In a nutshell, I’ve rocked my roll, but my roll still doesn’t rock.

Is that completely my fault? After all, those machines couldn’t do me much good if all I used them for was dust collectors.

While I won’t deny that lack of persistence is probably the number one reason people fail to reach their fitness goals, it apparently isn’t the only one. According to the real experts – and they aren’t the advertising copy writers, folks – “spot reduction” isn’t even physiologically possible. Worse yet, says former wrestler and nationally respected fitness guru Kurt Brungardt, regular use of machines or other types of gadgets (such as those that actually deliver electric shocks) may tighten your muscles, but “unless you’re as thin as a super model, the results will be hidden beneath a layer of fat.”

Ouch.

Now in the interest of fairness, I should add that some of these machines provide support that may reduce neck and back pain. And simply putting down your hard-earned money for them will cause you to think more about those muscles you want to improve and, hopefully, use the machine in an effort to get your money’s worth. A few of them really do deliver some results. Just don’t expect miracles from them.

The first verse of a gospel ditty I learned years ago has come back to me several times as I thought about this entry in the past week:

“Don’t build your house on a sandy land,
Don’t build it too near the shore!
Might look kinda nice, but you’ll have to build it twice,
Oh, you’ll have to build your house once more.”

I’ve built my flat-stomach house of hope on more than one sandy-shore promise in the past, and it didn’t stand under my weight. I’m betting some of you out there have done the same.

But is there a promise we actually can stand on? I think so. And, for me at least, it’s a two-parter, consisting of Work and Acceptance.

Part One is that the only real way to achieve a fitness goal is to work on putting only good things into my body by way of eating and drinking; to work on moving instead of sitting, to work on recognizing what I really desire and why, to work on analyzing my “triggers.” To work instead of expect an easy fix for what took years to create.

Part Two is to accept that genetics play at least a partial role in my shape; to accept that my value does not lie in my society’s current standard; to accept that the God who made me didn’t make junk, and that I am still a diamond, just one that needs some polishing.

Put them both together, and they spell out a promise that I – and you! – can one day make peace with our flawed yet “fearfully and wonderfully made” bodies.

What kind of promises have you been standing on lately? Are they a rock or a sandy shore? Write me and let me know.

* * * * *

Once again I’ve rambled lengthily, but I can’t close without looking at this week’s “Tool of the Trade.” It’s another simple one – flax seed! This ancient product has become, in the words of one nutritionist, “our modern miracle food.” Many studies have found it to be helpful in reducing “bad” cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. It may also reduce the risk of heart attack by keeping blood platelets from sticking together, and, besides being a source of fiber, has proved to be beneficial to those suffering from such intestinal conditions as Crohn’s disease and colitis, as it seems to be able to heal the inner lining of inflamed intestines. Some doctors recommend it in acne treatments, as well as for women who suffer from severe menstrual discomfort. As if all that wasn’t enough, my coworker swears that it makes his wife’s “wiry-brush hair” silky! Flax is easy to take – it has little flavor and you probably won’t even notice it’s there. Just sprinkle some ground or whole seeds on your breakfast cereal or a salad, or substitute flax oil for your regular cooking oil. A couple of tablespoons per day should be sufficient. Your body will thank you. For further information on the benefits and proper uses of flax, see http://www.umm.edu/altmed/ConsSupplements/FlaxseedOilcs.html.

* * * * *

This week I’ve begun studying financial prosperity. One theme that recurs with noticeable regularity is something I hadn’t much associated with the subject - the importance of desire. It seems that only recently have I begun to realize the importance of that six-letter word, and how complex it can be. I’ll be talking about that next week in “The Object of My Desire.”

So stay tuned!

-Treader Lucie-

5 comments:

Joyce and Wiley said...

Good job (again), Lucie! You sound like a professional journalist. You're obviously putting a lot of research as well as thought into each blog.

I meant to tell you that last week I saw something on the news about the beneficial effect of coffee (including decaf coffee) on diabetes. I wondered if you'd seen it.

Flax oil is something one of the first neurologists we visited recommended for Wiley's Parkinson's disease. We've never tried it, but I think we might.

Keep up the good work. I'm enjoying your blog a lot.

haggardmom said...

I've read that whole flax seeds are hard to digest, so to get the maximum nutrition it is better to grind them up. :-)

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