It is possible to spend your entire life treating your body as if it is an uncompleted project constantly needing renovated. Many, many people do this.
I was getting a pedicure the other day and overheard two older ladies chatting while getting their nails done. They were talking about their diets and how they needed to lose weight.
It made me sad. They had come this far in their life and were still fixated on their body not being good enough.
I imagined how they may have lived through marriage, raising children, working — whatever their lives entailed — only to end up retired empty nesters still trying to lose the same weight they’d probably lost and regained dozens of times.
Is this how you want to live your entire life?
Your body is not a DIY project to be fixed
Our culture acts as if our bodies are objects constantly in need of improvement. It’s like we think that we can design our bodies and renovate them like we would our living room.
The beauty, food, fitness and “health” industries totally reinforce this notion. A few examples:
This photoshopped picture of a young woman advertising “intense age defying” cream. Why is age something we need to defy? It happens to everyone – it’s a natural part of being a human being. And at the very bottom: “Don’t get left behind!” The peer pressure of making you believe that everyone else your age is going to be looking younger than you are, so you’d better get on board.
And how about this one…..
All I can say is WHAT?! There is absolutely zero evidence to support any of this. There are no food that burn belly fat (or any other fat for that matter). Food doesn’t burn fat. And it doesn’t cause your body to burn fat. Food is fuel for your body.
And this fitness ad…
This product touts weight loss of 25 pounds in 6 weeks. I can tell you as a dietitian, that if somebody actually did that they would be considered clinically malnourished in most cases. Is malnourishment sexy? And why do we have to sculpt our bodies into objectified sex machines? And let’s not forget to note the part where they say you can achieve all of this in just 6 minutes per day.
Hot and healthy
The problem is, our bodies aren’t pieces of clay to be molded. We all have unique DNA and life circumstances that impact our body size, shape and appearance.
What our bodies look like is not as within our control as we would like to believe.
So when you read things like “Get Healthy. Get Hot.” – step back and consider what they’re goal is (hint: it’s to make money).
What’s your ultimate goal?
If it’s something along the lines of “To be happy,” then consider the possibility that you CAN be happy without actually changing your body.
Let’s not rush past this. What I just said is very important: You CAN be happy without changing your body.
I know you may feel this isn’t true. Yet I have seen it time and time again in the clients I work with. People with body image so poor that they did incredibly destructive things to themselves. And they healed. They found peace and happiness without weight loss. Sometimes even with weight gain.
Happiness doesn’t come from a number on the scale, money in the bank, a dream house or job, or anything external.
Happiness comes from living according to your values, and finding meaning in life. People who have recovered will often say things like:
- “I realized how disconnected and isolated my eating disorder made me. In recovery I have real relationships with people.”
- “I started saying no to things I didn’t really want to do, and it has been so freeing. Now I can spend my time doing things I truly enjoy, like X, Y and Z.”
- “It’s amazing how much more confident I am now. I even started my own business. It seems like the more I used to focus on my weight, the less I focused on my family, friends and work.”
Can you see the common thread in all of these statements? It’s the happiness that they found in letting go of weight and connecting with other things that matter in life.
My challenge to you:
- Write down 3 ways that your focus on weight loss has taken you away from things that matter to you. What are some events you might have skipped, people you were less authentically engaged with, or chances you didn’t take because of how you felt about your body?
- Now write down 1 step you are going to take to move towards a meaningful life. It might be getting rid of your scale, calling an old friend, applying for a new job — whatever would allow you to look back on your life from your deathbed and think, I’m glad I did that.