Selling The Problem…

“I have a confession,” my friend gently offered. “I signed up for Weight-Watchers.” I quickly assured her that there is nothing inherently wrong with following any type of structured diet and exercise program – including Weight-Watchers. My previous comments – which led to her confession – were simply a way to illustrate the ever growing and dysfunctional cultural dynamic regarding food, exercise and our bodies.

I had come dangerously close to getting on a proverbial soapbox when I described a Weight-Watchers commercial I had seen. And I didn’t intend to specifically single out Weight-Watchers. Every big weight-loss corporation – Jenny Craig, Nutri-System, SlimFast, what have you – contributes to this dysfunctional dynamic. And for the most part, they do this subtly. But that Weight-Watchers commercial explicitly stated the cultural lie that is the bedrock of all of our pain and drama surrounding our bodies and our weight – the idea that we must “earn” our food.

This particular commercial featured a woman touting how easy a program Weight-Watchers is to follow – especially since they have this fancy technology that interfaces with her smart phone. She talked about how she simply typed what she ate into her phone and that cool little device added up all her points for her – it even downloaded the information to her personal computer! And then she said it – right there – out loud. She said how fun it was to type her exercise into her phone because it did all the calculations for her to tell her how much more food she earned. I kid you not – she used the word “earned.”

And this is the – until now – unchallenged idea at the heart of every weight-loss program currently on the market; the idea that we must pay a price to eat – and that price is exercise or weight gain.

Every weight-loss program sells this idea first and foremost. They sell us the problem so they can then sell us their unique solution. And every solution is some variation on how to manage the balance sheet of calories in versus calories out to which these ideas have reduced our physical being.

And we are not a balance sheet. Our physical bodies have more Divine brilliance within them than we could ever hope to imagine. Our bodies know how to heal wounds. Our bodies know how to create life. Our bodies know how to create and maintain an optimal state of health and vitality.

The problems and solutions we are sold undermine our relationships with our bodies, disconnecting us from its innate wisdom. This is the real problem we need to address.

Any weight-loss program can be a tool to effect positive change – and any weight-loss program can further contribute to pain and suffering.  The issue isn’t the nuts and bolts, dos and don’ts of any particular program. The issue is the underlying assumptions upon which the program is built – and whether or not we are aware of these assumptions and whether or not we buy into them.

When we, like my friend, choose to see a particular program as simply a tool to consciously develop the relationships we have with our bodies – without buying into the underlying assumptions and problems these programs also sell – we can use any type of program and we can quit using any type of program to find the peace and the results we seek.