In America, we are constantly being bombarded with different ways of how to lose weight and be fit. One would think that with this plethora of strategies and tricks on how flatten your belly or tone up, everyone in this country would look picture perfect. Unfortunately, that is not the case. According to DonorsChoose.org, “the percentage of overweight children and adolescents in the US has nearly tripled since the early 1970s … More than one in five children between the ages of 6 and 17 are now considered overweight.” This number is overwhelming and is a problem that needs to be fixed. Even on our own campus where we are constantly reminded of staying healthy and eating right, we have peers that are overweight. So as a community, what do we do? We complain about how unhealthy it is for parents to let their children eat at McDonald’s and strive to look like the Victoria’s Secret models in the pictures we post on our mirrors. We do crazy diets and extreme workouts to be fit and skinny.
When the New Year comes around and everyone is back at school, most resolutions are to try to lose those love handles and find your ambition to become a courageous, confident and fit person. Sadly, people commonly comment harshly on other people’s weight and complain how heavy people aren’t taking control of their bodies. Around this time of year, we are surrounded by “pins” on Pinterest about specialized exercises, Twitter accounts we can’t resist to follow with names like “healthy obsession” and gyms promoting specials.
During the first two weeks back from break, students that normally weren’t at the University of Massachusetts Recreation Center were. Treadmills were impossible to use and waiting around for a machine was inevitable. Friends and floor mates often recite the same story that the overcrowding at the Rec Center will end in a few weeks when people give up on New Year’s resolutions.
Do we have a problem with people being overweight, or do we have a problem with them doing something about it at our inconvenience? Have you ever looked at someone who was overweight and said, “How could they let themselves get like that?” or, “That will never be me.” We all need to take a step back and admit that we’re not sure how exactly we feel about obesity.
On Jan. 20, 2011, first lady Michelle Obama, who strongly promotes the fight against childhood obesity, stated, “It’s not about government telling people what to do … It’s about each of us, in our own families, in our own communities, standing up and demanding more for our kids. And it’s about companies like Walmart answering that call.” The first lady is a prime example of a social figure that speaks to our society about how much effort it takes for one person to become healthy. It is not just that one person but also the people that surround them that need to encourage a healthy lifestyle. There are plenty of advertisements on campus that promote outdoor activities and improved nutrition.
But why do we complain so much about people improving their lifestyles when we also complain about people who aren’t making healthier choices? This is when we realize we are being fitness hypocrites.
Next time you see a fellow peer taking up that treadmill you wanted or you are waiting for an occupied machine, think to yourself how far that person may have come to get there.
Samantha McGarry is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.