How is it that we, as a nation, are so concerned about our body image yet still rank as one of the most obese countries in the world?
It seems like everywhere we turn, people are trying to sell us a product or service that will make us achieve the illusion of the perfect body. Most promise a quick fix instead of a realistic approach to the real problem. From miraculous diets to 5-minute workouts, we are bombarded with the idea that we can achieve this perfect image effortlessly.
America is a unique case that praises fit bodies while the opposite prevails. For example, here in Las Vegas, numerous nightclubs and pools set the perfect scene for thin and lean bodies to flaunt themselves, so you would expect the city to support a culture that makes it easy to achieve this supposed ideal. Ironically, Las Vegas is the worst city for weight loss, according to an article published in Men’s Fitness magazine. The factors they considered for this ranking included:
· Access to healthy food
· Number of people who walk or bike to work instead of driving
· Number of gyms in the area
· Number of sporting goods stores
· Number of weight loss centers such as Weight Watchers
As a local, I can attest that when trying to accommodate healthier habits to my daily routine, I find it difficult to get access to healthy foods, especially when on a budget. There are a few organic stores available here in the valley, but in comparison to the more abundant mainstream markets, their prices are higher than what most of us are willing to spend. The abundance of all-you-can-eat buffets and steak dinners under $10 show us why we don’t celebrate the best eating habits.
Of course, the economic aspect is one that greatly influences our daily routine. Maintaining a gym membership, buying sporting equipment and opting for organic foods are all choices that will impact our finances. More often than not, we are limited by a budget and beckoned by the countless fast food chains always there by default.
Another limiting aspect here in Las Vegas is the weather. At temperatures of 100-plus degrees, the weather dictates much of what we do. For most of us, walking and biking to work is not an option. We purposely plan our days to spend as little time outdoors as possible.
So what does this mean for us? Should we just give up and continue our unhealthy habits? If the answer were clear, this would no longer be a discussion. But myriad factors affect our health and weight, and not all of them are external. Perhaps all we can do at the moment is educate people to influence them toward better eating habits. But what is concrete is that the simplest path to fitness is fewer calories, more exercise – which doesn’t have to cost a thing.