Whether it is the South Beach Diet, Tae Bo of the 1990s, or today’s “caveman” diet and Crossfit workouts, Americans have an obsession with their health and image.
It’s an obsession that sometimes conflicts with another American pastime, food. For Weber State University students and friends Brooke Anderson, sophomore and visual arts major, and Megan Gour, junior and psychology major, this semester has been about bridging the gap between these two obsessions.
“None of my clothes were fitting, and I was the heaviest I had ever been. I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin again,” Anderson said, explaining why she started working out again.
It’s been easier to make the lifestyle change together, Anderson and Gour said.
Gour said they began with jogging 30 minutes a day on the treadmills at the Stromberg Gym and are now running as much as 6 miles a day. However, as the semester dies down, the roommates face a new challenge, the holidays.
“I refuse to starve myself during Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Gour said, “but I am also going to be careful.”
The holidays are usually accompanied by lavish feasts and meals that end with millions of Americans making New Year’s resolutions, pledging to get fit and eat better.
“If you do decide to make New Years the time to make a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, my best advice is to find a good friend to keep you accountable of your habits,” Anderson said. “I try to make commitments based on what time of my life the set goal is appropriate. We shouldn’t just adapt to a healthy lifestyle because it is a new year. We should do it because it is necessary at all times of the year.”
Americans can find accountability exercise partners in some unexpected places. In February 2010, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama launched a program titled Lets Move! in an attempt to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic, as she describes it, that plagues the nation.
According to the data Obama’s initiative has gathered, obesity amongst children has tripled in the last 30 years, and she claims that if something is not done soon, one-third of all children born in 2000 will suffer from diabetes.
This national health movement reaches home to Utah as well. The Utah Department of Human Services has an initiative called Maintain Don’t Gain that tackles four major areas of health: Physical Health, Nutrition, Mental Health and Sleep. The department’s intentions are to help residents maintain their weight throughout the holiday season.
Even at WSU, the Department of Employee Wellness launched a similar initiative called Project Zero to help faculty and staff keep off weight during the holidays.
“It is important to spend time focusing on good health because we only get one body in this lifetime, and we need to do what we can to take care of it,” Anderson said. “It is a commitment to benefit from even years down the road.”