TV shows depicting dramatic weight loss may reflect anything but
reality, according to an expert presenting today at the American
College of Sports Medicine's 14th-annual Health & Fitness Summit.
Lauve Metcalfe, M.S., CWC, said sensible weight-loss programs have more
modest goals but are rooted in self-esteem and positive body image.
"No one can make you healthier or change your attitude," said Metcalfe.
"You need a support system as well as professional expertise." That
support, she said, can come from family, friends, or, increasingly, the
workplace. Workplace wellness programs, said Metcalfe, makes sense for
companies that see the payoff in terms of healthier employees, reduced
health care costs and greater productivity. "Corporate culture is key.
What's the norm: eat a heavy lunch instead of working out? Putting
people down or being overly competitive? Or is there a culture of
camaraderie and sharing?"
Positive influences, whether in the workplace or elsewhere, make all
the difference, according to Metcalfe. "If you don't feel good about
your body, you tend to have poor self-esteem," she said. Much of her
work focuses on women, because of the undue emphasis our culture places
on youth and physical attraction. The implications are widespread,
however. While women may feel pressure to be young, sexy and glamorous,
men may worry about a beer belly, hair loss or being short of stature.
Particularly for females, said Metcalfe, concern over body image can
start early and bring serious consequences. Even in elementary school,
a girl worried about her weight may develop poor eating habits,
eventually resulting in bone loss. Sound nutrition and physical activity contribute to bone health among many other benefits.