May 05 2015
Learn to Love the Journey
“My body is not an ornament, but is a vehicle to my dreams.” —Taryn Brumfitt
American culture is obsessed with size. Whether one is deemed too “big” or too “skinny”, our sole preoccupation seems to be with how to achieve the elusive “perfect” shape.
Try this fad diet, use this cream to minimize cellulite, lose weight, hide imperfections, change this, change that…change everything about who you fundamentally are!
Every day, the mass media bombards us with messages that we must fit into an extremely narrow definition of “beautiful” in order to be considered as such. It regularly points out all the ways in which we don’t fit that standard, stating that if we don’t figure out a way to fix our “flaws”, we risk becoming the target of judgment, criticism, comparison, and shame.
Many of us have bought into that notion, with statistics indicating that 116 million American adults are dieting at any given time, 75% of women have disordered eating of some kind, and 80% of 10-year-olds have already started dieting. Society has successfully created a self-perpetuating body shaming pandemic beginning during what ought to be a carefree youth and continuing throughout the course of our lives.
The reality is that nature created so many different—and beautiful—body types, it’s impossible for all of us to all look exactly the same. It is also impossible to assess someone’s level of health or physical ability by their outward appearance. In order to determine genuine health, we must remove the subject of weight from the equation all together and consider more legitimate health indicators such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose levels, to name a few.
Our bodies are the most precious tools we own. They intricately, reliably, and relentlessly serve us around the clock, asking for very little in return. They are the vessels by which we experience the world. Rather than try to coerce them into an arbitrary ideal, why don’t we try loving them and giving them exactly what they need in a particular given moment?
How to Love Your Health Journey:
Focus on nutrition over diet: Your body needs a steady flow of fuel in order to reach its maximum potential. By caving to fad diets with short-lived results, we place greater importance on how our bodies look rather than on how they function. Detach yourself from self-imposed standards and focus on providing your body with the sustenance it needs.
Indulge now and then: Yes, you read that right! As a society, we’ve internalized the idea that indulging is bad. However, an important aspect of overall health is allowing ourselves life’s simple pleasures such as a glass of wine or a decadent dessert. Furthermore, we can always think of ways in which to enjoy a treat healthfully or in moderation. Try to eat healthy 80% of the time and allow for 20% indulgence.
Love yourself no matter what: Learning to accept and love your body can be a lifelong process. Find at least three things you like about your body, write them down, and put them in a place where you’ll see them every day. Become your biggest fan rather than your own worst critic.
Make health and beauty a state of mind: While your body is no doubt important, you are so much more than just your physical frame. Learn to let go of pressure and realize that true beauty radiates from within and takes on many forms such as kindness, compassion, and humor.
Enjoy the journey: Celebrate your accomplishments along the way rather than focus solely on the end result. Keep in mind that progress is more important than perfection. Health and fitness is not a destination but an ongoing way of life. Learn to love that path while loving, supporting, and encouraging yourself and one another every step of the way.