Counterproductive Cliche’s of the ‘Big & Beautiful’

There’s a dangerous attitude out there, one which has been festering for a number of years and is probably a proponent of the Oprah Winfrey movement, I like to call it the “Big is Beautiful” syndrome. This particular group of people spout cliche after cliche, using faulty logic to support their denial that there is anything wrong with being overweight or obese and that people are spending far too much time on the topic of health, fitness and weight.

Obesity Campaign Poster

Obesity Campaign Poster (Photo credit: Pressbound)

Playing the Victim

These venomous types will twist and turn, claiming that they are discriminated against based on their size, that anorexic supermodels and superstars are providing negative role models for our youth (let’s do a reality check: are America and Australia full of overweight and obese, or have anorexics suddenly taken hold of the streets?), and that women should not be worried about their weight at any rate when, and I quote (from some random journo’s blog):

“Whining about weight is the ultimate shiny object that women continue to focus their attention on, instead of:
– fighting for social justice, at home and abroad
– running for political office and kicking ass when we win
– creating astonishing works of art
– waking up every single day grateful for their health and strength, the not-so-simple ability to walk and stand and reach for things without pain
– knowing that women all over the world are dying of starvation, malnutrition and in childbirth”

Etc etc ad nauseum, supposedly an extensive list of why you are misplacing your concerns, but in reality it’s an excuse list.

Did you get that? If there are problems in the world, or in politics, or with animal cruelty, or perhaps just your kitchen tap isn’t working properly, then you shouldn’t be “whining” or even thinking about your weight as there are more important things to worry about, and after all, you can only fix one problem at a time, right? RIGHT? (well…no, actually).

My Thoughts

I won’t lie, it irks me particularly when journo’s who have a good deal of exposure spout drivel continually, as they have a duty of care to do their best to dispense useful and accurate information, not catering to the fragile ego of a particular demographic who want to be coddled until they’re feeling the full glory of a  diabetes induced coma. Sure it feels good telling people what they want to hear, and everybody’s feeling-the-feels and congratulating each other on accepting themselves for ‘who they are’, but in the long-term there’s serious damage being done by this blatant disregard of reality (On the matter of journalists being scientifically illiterate and ignorant and dispensing horrendous advice is one which I plan to write about in the future).


Bad health and excessive weight is a shaky foundation on which to build your emotional, intellectual and spiritual development.

The Moral

What’s the moral here? This isn’t just a whine about people who (ironically) tend to spend their time whining about people who are whining about their weight. The moral is this – do not let people like this, with their superficial facade of positivity and “oh honey you’re gawdjuss just the way you are!”, don’t let them tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t spend time improving yourself, your health, and your well-being, just because they have failed to do so themselves and need to surround themselves with other failures while propagating superficially positive but truly negative beliefs and attitudes. Don’t let them delude you into ignoring the consequences of being overweight or obese, nor how big these problems are in America and Australia and their impact on the healthcare system. If you find yourself tiring of conversations about health and weight, perhaps it’s time to do something about it.

Every person on this earth has the right and the obligation to take care of themselves and each other, but (and now it’s my turn for a cliche, so why not?) how can we take care of each other if we can’t or won’t take care of our own physical health? If we don’t create a very solid foundation, there is no chance of building a stable structure on top.

Don’t surround yourself with fake and dangerous, self-delusional positivity. Sometimes, a good hard smack in the face is good for us, and forces us to see what we’ve been ignoring for way to long. Let’s not delude ourselves or let others delude us, let’s stay true to our goals. Don’t ever let a random Joe tell you to “give it up”, because you can and will achieve greater health and well being if you just ignore those coddlers.

Is Big Really ‘Beautiful’?

Big is not “beautiful”, big is heart disease, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, cancer, fatty liver disease and sleep apnoea, to name a few.

What are your thoughts? Is the “big is beautiful” attitude a problem that you often experience, and is it something that we should spend more time addressing?

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Fitness Measurements: The basics that every fitness enthusiast needs to know

Let’s keep it simple, but not too simple. This is a topic that I generally wouldn’t cover, but I’ve come to realise that too many people still don’t differentiate between fat body mass and muscle body mass. With some simple measurements you can ensure that you’re not confusing the numbers on your scales for fat, when in fact the increase is due to muscle, or vice versa.


Firstly, when performing basic weight measurements it is next to useless to measure your total body weight without also taking other measurements. Most fitness enthusiasts are interested in how much fat mass they have lost, or muscle mass they have gained, or both. If your muscle mass has increased while fat mass has decreased, regular scales might not shift at all. Invest in some tanita scales which, while not being the most accurate measure of absolute bodyfat, at least help to give you an idea how your bodyfat percentage (bf%) has shifted from week to week.

This brings us to our second point. When using tanita scales, the measurement should be performed at the same time, on the same day, each week – preferably before eating, and if possible after using the toilet and after consuming 500ml’s of water. This helps to ensure that you’re measuring body mass as opposed to last nights meal and are in a suitably hydrated state, since tanita scales can be affected by the hydration level of the body.

Also keep in mind that the relative movement of the bf% (eg it might move from 15% to 14%) is what’s really important, not necessarily how this percentage compares to a table of norms in the population. Tanita scales tend to overestimate total bf% by a few %, so if you want an absolute reading have a DEXA scan done and simply determine the difference between the scan results and the reading given by your tanita scales.

When comparing how your bf% has shifted from week to week alongside a general body weight reading, you’ll get a better idea for whether or not you have added or lost fat or muscle. For example:

  • Week 1, Sunday morning: 15%, 70kg
  • Week 2, Sunday morning: 15%, 71kg (normal fluctuation in bodyweight)
  • Week 3, Sunday morning: 14%, 70kg (possible normal fluctuation in bf%)
  • Week 4, Sunday morning: 14%, 71kg (probably a 1% shift in bf%, normal fluctuation in total bodyweight)

Final point for tanita scales – both bodyweight and bf% might shift a little from week to week, this is normal. It’s best not to mark it down as a definite change unless it sticks for 2 weeks or longer.


Girth measurements are a useful addition alongside weight and bf% measurements for determining which part of your body has gained or lost fat or muscle. The most useful sites for measurement:

  • Arms – taken at the midway point
  • Neck – taken below the adam’s apple (or at the same approximate point on a woman)
  • Chest – nipple height
  • Waist – a few cm’s above the bellybutton
  • Hips – around the apex (largest girth)
  • Thighs – taken when standing with arms at your sides, the furthermost point where the fingers touch the thighs in a relaxed position.

All of these recommendations are for ascertaining relative readings, which enable you to compare your progress from week to week. Don’t measure more often than this – there is quite a bit of variation in readings from day to day as a result of fluid, food, and other factors, so it would be essentially frivolous. Also try to ensure that you take the measurements in the same exact location so that relative readings can be compared.

Waist and hip measurements are useful for determining your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic illness:



Finally, a good iPhone app for recording your weekly body measurements is Gym Buddy, one of several iPhone apps I reviewed in this post, which although no longer receives support or updates (nor is it available to other smartphone users) allows you to keep fully customised measurements along with statistics and graphs and is still more than worth the price.

What smartphone apps have you found that have made your fitness habits easier to track and plan? Share any recommendations in the comments!

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