There is a post online about how a single Oreo Cookie is 70 calories.
And it takes 1,200 jumping jacks
(or apparently however many you can do in 15 minutes)
to burn those calories.
I don't like these types of posts. There are many others going around as well, I'm sure. But these don't promote a healthy relationship with food, with exercise or with your body.
When I was in school, on more than one occasion, we had an assembly where a teacher would get on stage, start a slideshow about keeping fit now that the holidays are over or just about to start, staying hydrated in our hot weather, exercising if we could, etcetera etcetera etcetera. And then they would do exactly what I hate seeing today; compare food with the amount of calories they have and how much exercise it would take to burn it all off.
As much as I want to just blame it on my school or the teachers who decided this would be a good idea but were clearly uneducated in this area, I can't. I eventually found out that all this comes from the Ministry of Health, telling schools what to tell their students. I don't know for sure but, whoever it was that did come up with these, I guess, thanks for not actually teaching us what's healthy and how to love our bodies or have positive relationships with our health and food. Instead I'd say you did the complete opposite.
When i was at that age, I definitely didn't know any better. I thought exercise for girls was literally just to stay skinny, to burn off extra food we shouldn't have eaten or so you can enjoy things like ice cream and cake at any time and still be a size Small - which, by the way, I was not!
I was 13 when I was put into my school's TAF ("Trim and Fit" programme - or as we all used to say, it was just another way of calling us FAT.) which required overweight kids to come to school a half hour earlier to run to "lose weight". That was it.
It seemed to me, and I'm sure many other kids, we were being punished. There was no one teaching us how to eat better or care for our bodies, there was no one telling us why staying at a healthy weight or why exercise was beneficial for us. Just run. And once that was done, that was it. Come back and do it again tomorrow. It was no wonder so many of us never actually learned anything from this programme except "I need to lose weight".
It has changed since I was in school 5 years ago, but a new name and swapping running for half an hour to a zumba class or boxing still isn't going to teach 13-16 year olds why it's good to stay healthy, how to develop healthier habits or why they should be active. Especially not when they feel like they're being forced into it.
All people, staring from a young age, should be taught the importance of their health. We need to learn how our bodies work, what exercise and eating well does for us and most importantly, that food fuels us. Calories are what keeps us going, it allows us to live, to breath, to exist. Exercise is not about burning every single calorie we've eaten.
To believe, and to tell people - especially children - that eating a single oreo is 70 calories and that it needs to exercised away is so harmful. Exercise is to make us stronger, healthier, to help us feel better. It is not a punishment for eating and should never be treated that way.
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