When I started blogging in 2005, Facebook was limited to Harvard students, Twitter was at least a year away, there were no apps or iPhones, and there was no “thinspiration.” (Although our model-thin culture was alive and well on the covers of most major magazines.)
There’s no doubt that the Internet was my number one most useful weight-loss tool this last time down the scale. The Weight Watchers online program taught me how to eat, and the community of people I met there taught me why I eat the way I do. I asked them to hold me accountable, even though I’d never met them in real life, and they did. I wandered away from that accountability over the last few years and what do you know? Twenty of those doggone lost pounds found their way back to me and so again I have sought the help of a few of the folks who helped me out the last time, only this time we’re using MyFitnessPal.
If I were just now deciding to lose weight, I wouldn’t know who or what to believe. While the Internet continues to be a critical tool for my own weight loss and maintenance, as well as an excellent source for fitness and nutrition information, it often leaves me “Internetically” exhausted and downright angry.
To research this month’s AIM topic, I clicked on the “5 foods you should never eat” link you find on nearly every page that supports GoogleAds. (You know the one with the banana on it? Yeah, well, bananas aren’t one of the five foods.) I listened to a 20-minute spiel about why I should “join” the Trim Down Club (for ONLY $47! And if you’re not satisfied, you get to keep the four free gifts!) because I wanted to know what five foods I should never eat. They are: excess sugar, margarine, high-carb “comfort foods” (although on their plan, you can eat a stack of pancakes IF you combine it with the right amount of protein…), processed soy, and genetically modified corn. Pay me $47 and I’ll tell you almost the same thing, except for the part about eating pancakes with bacon.
Clearly I wasn’t frustrated enough, because I Googled “five foods never eat” and…surprise!…there was an exhaustive list of links to articles and blogs with their own five foods to never eat. According to Cosmo, they are artificial sweeteners, diet foods, frozen prepared meals, soy and margarine. The Huffington post reports you shouldn’t eat fried food, white bread, creamy salad dressing, white rice, and white sugar. Another site listed nine foods “you should never attempt to eat (or ever eat again)”: Canned tomatoes (because of BPA), processed meats, margarine, vegetable oils, microwave popcorn, non-organic fruits and vegetables, soy protein isolate, table salt, and artificial sweeteners.
And if that wasn’t enough fun, I Googled “diet cleanse” and thought I would stroke out from all the downright awful and deceptive information. Words like garcinia cambogia (thank you…NOT…Dr. Oz), adiponectin, and grehlin get thrown around like if we don’t know their “secrets” (duh!), we’re destined to be fat forever.
It’s the black and white DON’Ts and DOs that make me nuts. In the realm of weight loss, “never” is never a good approach. Truth and success are usually somewhere in the gray.
I know I’m beginning to sound like an old man who yells at children to get off his yard, but allow me a few words about the hashtag “thinspiration.” (Here’s a link to a grouping of more than 1700 pages of images tagged with “thinspiration.”)
While I’m all for motivational sayings and motivational images, an overwhelming majority of them include or are exclusively of thin (often too thin) young, scantily clad woman. I just…ugh… When will healthy at any size or shape be considered beautiful?
For my sanity, I limit myself to keeping up with less than 10 personal blogs and about four or five blogs written by dietary and nutrition professionals. Reading about other people’s struggles and successes keeps me connected to my own experiences of struggle and success, and the professionals I follow offer informed and sane nutritional advice. Occasionally, I will click on links to other blogs or articles that address an issue of interest to me, but I’m sure you know how easy it is to lose an hour or three of your day “clicking through.” I can only cram so much information and other people’s angst, frustration, or plain old opinion into my head at one time without wanting to poke sharp objects into my eyes.
How do YOU navigate the weight-loss and nutritional waters of the Internet? What “inspires” you? What makes you go, “What the what??”
AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!