Almost every person reading this has ridden in a car, bus, train, maybe a riding lawnmower or tractor (I’m from a farm town); perhaps you’ve flown in a plane or been on a boat. What do all of these vehicles have in common? They all use fuel. Not one of us thinks that’s weird in any way. I have never thought twice about putting gas in my car when the gas light comes on because if I don’t the car will stop running. Pretty simple concept: fuel provides the energy needed for something to run. In addition I would never put bleach or orange juice in my car in place of gasoline. That would be crazy right? If I did, the car wouldn’t run properly.
So why then do we hesitate to put fuel into our bodies? Also why do we put incorrect fuel into our own bodies? According to ABC News, the annual revenue of the weight-loss industry is 20 billion dollars. Yes BILLION. This includes diet books, diet pills and weight loss surgery. There are over 108 million people in the United States that are dieting and eighty-five percent of those people are women. There are several things wrong with all of these statistics, specifically one; eighty-five percent of dieters in the U.S. are women. Soak that in for a moment. That means if you walk into a room with ten women at least eight of them are dieting.
To simplify even more; our bodies need fuel to operate. We need food, water and sleep to function properly. Yet the media has us strung out on coffee, energy drinks and soda, eating low fat, no fat, low calorie foods and so stressed over social media, consumerism and work that we don’t sleep. We are all chasing something that doesn’t exist, maybe a perfect body, home, or identity. When we fail to attain the ‘unattainable’ it creates a domino effect. As a society we start to buy into lies about our worth then we share these lies with each other through our conversations, things we post online and our daily lives reflect what we believe because each choice we make is based on our belief system. We start to believe that our worth is found in our body type our pant size or what the scale says; we start to believe that if we looked a certain way we would, in fact, be happy. Then we stop putting fuel into our bodies, and when we do put fuel into our bodies it is improper fuel, diet drinks, energy drinks, etc. all to attain an ‘imaginary’ image. Do you think the 85% of women who are dieting are more concerned with their health or outward appearance?
I want to highlight two serious problems I find with the state of health in the United States and how it leads to 108 million dieters, 85% of whom are women:
- Our youth do not learn about proper nutrition.
- Proper body image is not being taught to our girls.
Guess what we do at Girls in the Game? We teach about nutrition and we are intentional with our curriculum regarding body image and a healthy relationship with yourself.
We recently interviewed a collegiate track and field athlete who runs for me at the University of Chicago. When Jess, our development coordinator, asked her why she wanted to get involved at Girls in the Game as an intern she responded by saying she loved that we taught girls about positive body image. She explained that as she grew up she felt like she didn’t fit in with the other girls because she was ‘big’. What she learned once she became a member of U of C’s track team is that she was actually just muscular and strong. She expressed how she thinks it’s important for girls to hear this message at a young age and she wanted to be part of that process.
What about nutrition? We are taught to eat fat free, low calorie foods, to starve ourselves to look a certain way. This is wrong and it pains me to hear, watch and be privy to the conversations had regarding food and calories amongst women and girls. Did you know fat is healthy for you, as in avocados, almonds, fatty fish? Chemicals are not. Real food is good for you; packaged foods have been compromised in some way. There is a lot of freedom in food once a person is taught proper nutrition. *(see below for more in depth nutrition information)
At Girls in the Game we teach our girls to be active, we teach why fruits and vegetables are important for their bodies and above all else we teach them to love themselves and their own bodies. How would you feel if you woke up every day free of worry when it came to calories, fats, food and your body? As you read this does it seem impossible? It’s not. Your body deserves proper fuel to run. Can you imagine if you had been taught that when you were a girl? How different would your conversations be to others and to yourself about what you ate, how your clothes fit and how you feel inside?
Girls in the Game is committed to changing the game, one girl at a time, one day at a time. Change the game with us by loving your own body enough to provide it with the proper fuel. Here’s to a healthy and prosperous New Year!
* What does proper nutrition mean? It means a proper meal consists of a fat, a protein, a carbohydrate and a fiber. This provides the proper nutrition for your body and satiates your appetite. There is a concept called low glycemic eating. That means you control your blood sugar. If you eat something sugary, i.e. a pop tart, and nothing else for breakfast your blood sugar will spike. Then insulin releases, and your blood sugar drops below where it should be so you become agitated, it’s hard to concentrate and you crave simplex carbs (bagels, chips, sugary snacks, soda) because your blood sugar is lower than normal. So you eat junk again, and guess what, your blood sugar spikes again, insulin is released and on and on and on. What eventually happens is a person’s body becomes insulin resistant and Type II Diabetes enters the picture. Learning what foods are low glycemic and putting the proper food in your body creates a consistent blood sugar level which leaves you feeling full, satisfied and gives you proper energy.