I know I’m being a real stickler about the Resolve to Love monthly challenges. If you read this month’s challenge, then you know that I’ve asked you to completely “refrain from talking about your weight, your feelings about your weight, weight loss, diets and/or your feelings about how ‘bad’ you look.” I’ve gotten some comments on this one, suggesting that this isn’t fair, healthy, realistic and/or necessary. I’ll address the “healthy” aspect in the next post, but first, let me explain why I chose to add this to the challenge.
Just a few weeks ago, my sister and I were talking about some events that have been stressful for us when she suddenly said, “How come whenever I feel that I’ve conquered my eating disorders, I come to realize that I’m still struggling with the same issues as before?” This is a frustration I share with her, and I told her that that is one of the very reasons why I started the RtL Challenge and why I’m being such a stickler about it.
We are masters at tricking ourselves. We know how to convince ourselves that our latest diet obsessions/compulsions are the result of a new, healthy relationship with food. We know how to spin our latest fitness regimes into a harmless-sounding effort to build muscle or cardiovascular strength. And while all those goals are ultimately important and certainly worthy of our time, underneath it all, most of us believe that these new behaviors will help us lose weight. When it comes to the subject of weight loss/body image, we are masters of PR.
I think one of the problems with this is that it is extremely hard to separate our desire for better health with a desire for a more beautiful, sexier body. Let’s face it: We all want both, right? And there’s nothing wrong with that, either. But for so many of us – myself included – this so-called journey to health just becomes another exercise in vanity, control, self-denial and compulsive behavior.
I have told myself a thousand times that if I could just be stronger, firmer or more muscular, I’d be happy. I’d feel sexy. I’d accept that my body is shorter and broader than the tall, thin silhouette favored by our culture, and love it just the same. And you know what happens every single time I lose weight, get firmer, build muscle, feel stronger? I look in the mirror and feel more and more driven to lose more weight in hopes of reaching that “ideal body.”
At this point in life, I realize that this cycle is never going to end – at least not the way I’ve been trying to end it. Now it seems to me that the only way to get off this train is to absolutely, completely and radically love myself exactly the way I am right now in this moment. Muffin top. Stretch marks. Droopy behind. Early crow’s feet. Scarred skin. Cone-shaped thighs. Cellulite. The whole shebang.
Can you honestly say that your health-related goals have nothing to do with a desire to be thinner? And again, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wanting to be thinner, with wanting to lose some extra weight and feel pretty and sexy. However, I often find that this journey is similar to some people’s never-ending journey toward financial success. “When I make enough money, I’ll be happy.” We all want to make more money, to have a little extra at the end of each month, but when you really sit down and think about it…what’s enough? Every time I make more money, I still find myself wishing I made even more. When are we going to be happy and confident just the way we are?
Stay tuned – I’ll be talking about another aspect of this in the next post, inspired by a great comment I received from EcoGrrl!
*UPDATE: I have SO much more to say on this subject – I literally think I’m working through it as I blog about it! But please be absolutely assured that I, in no way, am trying to say that eating healthy or exercising are bad or that we should stop either one! Both are super important to me – my health is one of my number one priorities. I think what I’m trying to get at is: How do we separate these two desires – to be healthy and to be sexy/thin/beautiful? To me, the latter is a ephemeral goal, while the former is something more of substance, especially if you are talking about mental-emotional-physical-spiritual health. I suspect that we will actually never BE sexy/thin/beautiful until we BELIEVE we are RIGHT NOW. No matter what we look like. And that is where I’m going with all this. More soon!