There is a lot of hype in the United States right now about fighting obesity, from Michelle Obama's Let's Move Initiative to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, and these are certainly commendable efforts. But an unintended impact of this focus on weight is that it can lead some people to develop an unhealthy relationship with weight and food, resulting in eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia or compulsive overeating.
Though these campaigns are focused on weight loss and healthy eating habits for health's sake, there is still so much focus in our culture on the appearance of thinness as the only ideal. And it may even go beyond appearance. An article in New York Times exploring The Anatomy of Desire described how in one Dutch study, men who have been blind since birth still expressed a preference for the feeling of a thin mannequin woman over a mannequin who was closer to the size of the average woman.
If these attitudes are truly imprinted on us from birth, no amount of size acceptance will help. It becomes less about how accepted we feel by others and more about how we feel about ourselves. Only when we feel healthy and strong ourselves can we ever hope to change the broader culture.
The truth is that every one of us has our own ideal level of health—that includes our physical health and body size, but it also includes our emotional health, our mental health, our spiritual health and our overall wellness and enjoyment of life.
To be the best you that you can be, forget about any pressure and just keep these five tips in mind:
1. Go in for regular maintenance—Sadly, some people take better care of their cars than their bodies. Keep up with your check-ups, blood work, eye exams, dental cleanings, etc.
2. Be good to the planet—Increase your environmental awareness and social responsibility. It feels good when you know you're doing your part.
3. Feed your mind—Pay attention to what you're paying attention to. Change the channel, turn off the noise and choose to nourish your mind and soul with enriching and beautiful sensory information.
4. Keep your body happy—Here at the White Picket Fence Counseling Center, all of our clients have individualized self-care plans. That's because every person has unique needs for nutrition, movement and other lifestyle habits.
5. Find your passion—Have something other than food or eating behaviors that fills up your soul and eases the emptiness you may be feeling. If there is something in your life you feel passionate about, it is an incredible motivator to keep up with the rest of your self-care plan. The excitement of a new diet or workout routine will fade pretty quickly, but once you've lit the fire of a passion, that stays with you. It gives you something to wake up for every day.
If you could quiet the voices of society and all of the outside talk about food and weight, what do you think your body would tell you about what is healthy?
Recommended Resource: spirit of change, 21-day spiritual journaling experience—watch soon for the launch of this e-coaching course that will get you started on the life-long practice of journaling. Journaling is one of the most effective ways of getting to the heart of your thoughts, feelings and passions, as well as being a place to keep track of your self-care goals.