In the United States alone, approx. 10 million females and 1 million males are battling an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, reports the National Eating Disorders Association.
Further, almost 41 million women and more than 37 million men were reported obese in 2009-2010, says the CDC.
And that doesn't even account for the number of people suffering from negative body image or an unhealthy lifestyle, conditions much harder to measure. In essence, these stats point to one fact: Distorted body image is a thriving epidemic.
Angela Lutz, a recovered anorexic-turned-holistic lifestyle coach, is out to reduce those statistics drastically with a call to 'break free of the numbers that bind us.' Her new book, Bound by Numbers, is a thoughtful approach to healthy living that guides readers to quit the numbers game once and for all.
"Our society is obsessed by numbers, rules and strict diet plans, all so we can fit into the 'accepted' body image, size and look," says Lutz. "This obsession has only led to a society of people suffering from negative body images and beliefs. Once we can break free from that obsession, we're finally allowed to live a healthy, happy life."
Contrary to advice offered up by numerous trainers, books and magazines, Lutz's approach to a healthy lifestyle isn't bound by numbers: Meaning no counting the number of reps; frequency of working out; quantity of calories, fat grams or carbohydrates; or how much time between meals, as well as stepping off the scale once and for all.
"Often, a person suffering from disorderly eating or a negative body image is also suffering from some type of underlying root issue(s)," Lutz says. "By showing them how to break free from the bondage of control and step into the freedom of self-acceptance and love, the body has no choice but to line up and shape its way back to truth - the way we were always intended to be before distorted belief systems made themselves at home in our bodies."
Angela Lutz has worked more than a decade in the health and fitness industry, achieving numerous personal training certifications and a certificate in Holistic Lifestyle and Nutritional Coaching. She currently owns a gym in Sunbury, Ohio with her husband and resides there as well with their two children. Bound by Numbers is her first book.
Bound by Numbers: Abandoning the Control Weight Has Over You
Author: Angela Lutz
Question: What inspired you to write Bound by Numbers: Abandoning the Control Weight Has Over You?
Angela Lutz: My experiences first as a personal trainer and health and fitness educator, and later as a Holistic Life Coach, have allowed me to personally witness the ravaging effects a negative body image can have on an individual's life. We are bombarded by media messages telling us what "good" looks like and how it behaves. Unknowingly we consume these messages and, as our belief system conforms to society's ideas for us, our decisions are influenced (at times overtly and other times subconsciously) by how we think and feel about our body. We eat too much or too little or adhere to an unhealthy diet and exercise program in order to compensate for falling short of society's standards. Too often, I've witnessed people endure terrible suffering because their relationship with themselves has become toxic. Personally, I had also fallen victim to this abusive system. For years I lived with an unhealthy body image resulting in extreme exercise programs and severe anorexia which nearly caused my death. Eventually I discovered a way to escape the control numbers (and everything they represented) had over me. I am living proof that you can overcome them.
Question: What is the numbers game?
Angela Lutz: The viscous cycle of allowing the number inside the waistband of your jeans, the number on the scale, the number of calories, carb, proteins and fat grams, consumed over a specified number of hours to become the final authority that dictates your ability to succeed in achieving a body of excellence. Numbers are unreliable and are always presenting a new set of rules and variables, as numbers tend to do. We become exhausted constantly trying to hit a moving target.
Question: How can we break out of the numbers game?
Angela Lutz: Shifting the focus; it's not about deprivation, it's about application. Pursuing your best you is not a destination you arrive at when you see that magic number on the scale. It is an ongoing development that requires commitment, time and continuous application. It is a habit, an ongoing participation…a way of life. Obtaining your best you starts on the inside and works its way out. Freedom from numbers can only be found by uncovering and overcoming the root issues that drives beliefs regarding food and body image.
Question: What made you want to become a personal trainer?
Angela Lutz: I have always had a passion for people, and a desire to see them live in fullness. Without excellent health we become limited in achieving and enjoying all that God has planned for us. I have such a fascination for the creation of the human body and a deep respect to take care of the amazing gift God sent us to this world with.
Question: What is disorderly eating and how can we avoid it?
Angela Lutz: Disorderly eating sets in when you allow yourself to be consumed by your food as opposed to using food as a tool made for consumption. Food based decisions become driven by fear as opposed to intentional motivations driven from a complete understanding and love for you as a whole person, spirit, soul and body.
Question: What are some of the symptoms associated with a disordered or negative body image?
Angela Lutz: Symptoms of negative body image include a deep dislike and or disrespect regarding one's body, great discomfort or avoidance of ones reflection in the mirror. Decisions regarding social events are dictated by the number on the scale, avoidance of restaurants and/ or great discomfort and frustration every time one sits down to eat. When food and weight become the center of your focus.
Question: How is your healthy life approach not bound by numbers?
Angela Lutz: First and foremost, understanding that it is just as much about what comes out of your mouth, as what goes into it, as well as having compassion for the body you live in. Practical application can only be affective in achieving permanent change when we couple it with solid spiritual truth gaining understanding of the whole person. I believe in ingredient reading as opposed to calorie counting, which your body does not regard. Your body makes an informed decision on what to do with what you put in your mouth by its ability to either break it down completely or store it as waste; not by how many calories, protein grams, carb grams and fat grams it contains.
Interview by Brooke Hunter