“You have to do it yourself, and you can’t do it alone,” says expert Lauve Metcalfe. 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.
While some TV shows present people who reduce by 15 or more pounds per week, said Metcalfe, that is unrealistic for most people. “[Those participants] are working out six hours a day, which few of us can do,” she said. “A healthy weight loss, typically, is no more than two pounds per week.” Metcalfe emphasized the importance of celebrating small victories and reinforcing one another’s progress. “Supportive people give you emotional stimulation and emotional support, and challenge you to be your best.”
In her work at the University of Arizona, Metcalfe uses a model called SPECIES, based on a concept from the National Wellness Institute. SPECIES recognizes that true wellness involves multiple components: Social, Physical, Emotional, Career, Intellectual, Environmental, and Spiritual.
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.