3,500 kilocalories, an 8 hour jog, 1,460 stairs, 480 laps of an Olympic sized swimming pool...All of these numbers measure the energy required to burn a pound of fat. But what does that really mean to your way of life and the world that surrounds you?
What it means to you
Looks and appearance aren't everything, but if it is a source of grief in your life, then weight-loss can be a key to achieving a happier sense of self. In the developed world, our physical health is one of the few life factors that we have absolute control of, and it's the first place people turn when they find the rest of their world is in turmoil; this applies to both positive and negative influences on your life. If you are like many people who have had a stressful day at work, chances are you come home and eat, and eat, and eat. This impulse exists because something in your life that you can definitely control is what goes in your mouth. The more chaotic our lives get, the more we seek an internal locus of control. In fact, during the latest economic recession, health and fitness is one of the few industries that has still shown growth.
Losing weight is hard. Your body does not want to change, and certainly does not want maintain the consistent calorie deficit that is required to do so. So what a pound means to you is hard work, mental discipline, sweat, and more than likely a few tears. If you are just beginning this journey, know that the physical and psychological payoff is immeasurable. The amount of personal growth that comes from taking control of your health, overcoming obstacles, and breaking through mental barriers will change you and your life-trajectory.
What it means to the fitness industry
The first thing you should know is that beyond the physical price your body pays, fitness is FREE. You can go out for a walk or a run, you can swim in the ocean or run up some city stairs, and you can do body weight pushups, crunches, and squats, and it won't cost you a dime.
The health & fitness industry has done an awesome job of complicating something that should be almost intuitive by inundating the public with an avalanche of products and information (and most of it is crap). I should qualify that last statement by saying that I believe that a good personal trainer is a great investment for any beginner, but the reality of fitness, is that you can do it yourself.
Here is what a pound means to the fitness industry:
5-10 personal training sessions (variance due to the skill of the trainer and the heart of the exerciser). Depending on the rates you can negotiate (as low as $30/session, as high as $120/session, usually), one pound of fat will earn "the industry" between $150 and $1200
Gym memberships are rarely sold for less than a month at a time, but chances are you'll be on the hook for a minimum of $20. People rarely cancel their memberships after one month, however, and many will keep the membership out of guilt and maybe's, but not use it for a year or more (the high-end gyms can easily cost over $1000/year)
You have bought, are buying, or will buy a gadget or piece of equipment that claims to make exercising, more fun, easier, or more effective. You will use it once, and then you will forget about it. Let's just hope that "it" refers to a $5 jump rope and not a $1500 BowFlex
What it means to the healthcare industry
"Healthcare" is an oxymoron of the most moronic sort. It should be called Sickcare, or more appropriately, Sickwedon'tgiveaf*ck. It is inefficient, expensive, and it relies on reactive, band-aid measures and thinking. It is a multi-billion dollar industry, and "healthcare" companies only make money when you are sick. What does a pound mean to the healthcare industry? It means you are not buying their product. Every pound shed means less of a strain on your heart and joints. Every step, stroke, or rep, releases endorphins, naturally enhancing your mood and outlook on life.
Pills, injections, respirators, etc, should not be a way of life. And yet health care professionals recommend baby Aspirin to reduce your chance of stroke, Lipitor to cut down on your cholesterol, Xanax for anxiety and panic, Cymbalta for depression...when did we just accept that we should feel terrible and that if we take a pill, it will all be better? Let's be clear, sickness is a business, and right now, business is good. Make no mistake, the healthcare industry is not here to help you, they are there to patch you up just long enough to empty your wallet and make you think that you are reliant upon them, but you aren't. Health, fitness, and happiness, are all within your grasp.