If we don't have it we resent it, some to inconsolable longing. This longing can verge on an obsession to extreme measures. We strive for those low body fat numbers 8-10% for men and 15-20% for women. We count calories or eat low carb for that perfect thin body. We want all traces of rolls, dimples and squishy, puffy soft skin gone. All signs of gravity lifted. Our age needs to be defied. We want tone, taught and lean skin and muscles. We have to look like models and superstars who are paid thousands a day to look the way they do. Lithe. long, lean, sinewy, wispy even drawn. Pay no attention that these stars can afford the time and trainers to exercise 4 hours a day in the pursuit of perfection. There's a plethora of diet books out there.
We're all studying weight loss. Each new book brags a new solution. But the diet industry has grown as large and swollen as the American public's waistlines. Diets, pills, patches, concoctions, procedures, prescriptions and remedies to supposedly 'cure your condition'. Meanwhile health care costs are spiraling out of control from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases exacerbated by being overweight. We can turn away from it in anger, disgust or frustration, to give up and get fat (1/4 of America). Or continue from one diet to the next fad, yo-yo-ing into obesity (other 1/4 America). What is going on? As life gets easier with our technological advances and our economic success we become more sedentary. Is it the increased need for instant gratification causing the obesity? Or is it mass produced fast foods with no nutritional value that are just too easy to acquire?
Add to this a sedentary lifestyle. Speaking of instant gratification, liposuction seems an easy solution. It will suck the fat away making us look perfectly thin but our blood chemistry doesn't change. We're still overweight inside, ripe for heart disease and sure to gain the weight back. The weight then tends to come back in all the wrong places exacerbating the situation (look out Nicole Smith!) Self-esteem and body weight are inextricably linked.
I have to say that the recognition I receive (as a woman) for being slim is real. Generally the thinner I am the more positive the response. My experience probably reflects others, in that the social recognition for thin is insidious. Media, society, and culture reinforce these perspectives. Self-esteem and body weight I conclude are inextricably linked for most. It will take more than a rebellious few such as Queen Latifa who's refreshing attitude expresses "Thin for who? For what? I like my meals! I'm happy and successful! And I like being full figured!" Her message liberates perfectionist thinking. She's got curves and her body fat is probably a healthy 25%.
The pursuit of the perfect body then becomes a self esteem issue. If we want recognition we can't eat, drink or be merry! We need to always be in control to uphold these rigid standards. That's the rub. For naturally fun loving, giving and sharing folks who want to enjoy life while being healthy and productive here's a solution. Lose control! Queen Latiffa does it by taking off on her motorcycle going from here to who knows where. Lose yourself in something you love *Yoga to do and forget the rest. I call it 'zoning' when I lose myself in my writing, exercising, playing with kids, music, conversation sometimes even in housecleaning (Beware: this 'zoning' thing is contagious and starts to infiltrate everything you do). Just lose yourself in the moment, and find the zone within. It builds self esteem, burns calories and generates bliss at the same time.
What if we all completely forgot about having a perfect body and refocused on being healthy? We'd lose all the emotional baggage that comes with perfection. We'd focus instead, on health and feeling good.
We would eat properly and sensibly and exercise. Lots of vegetables, lean proteins and some whole grains. Nutrient packed foods, which have negative calories because they're work for the body to break them down. It's the man made foods that tempt us and make us eat too much because they just taste so...good? These foods spoil our taste buds: sugar, processed foods, white flour, hydrogenated oils. They take away the pleasure of simpler more complex flavors. Plus these once nutritious foods are processed into empty fat storing, blood sugar raising caloric dumping. Yes, okay sometimes we can indulge with a glass of wine or piece of chocolate. We can't always say no. Halloween and the holidays are imminent and we need good habits to fortify our resolve without being rigid. Here's a strategy!
Eat the healthy foods first. Relish them and get satisfied. After the meal is when you go for the 'bad' or 'fun' food if you still need to. You'll only eat a little, because you're sated. There are no diet secrets, only common sense. Of course there is the role of social stigma and the media continuing to rev the engine of needing to have a perfect body. But we know better now. We may not look like a super star or model but maybe our natural healthy glow from our zoning through life in good health will give us the longevity and quality of life we all desire. Part of being productive in our daily life is exercise. Our advanced technology affords us the time to make time for daily exercise. Our bodies need, crave it and respond to it once the habit is formed. One thorough give it your all effort, for one hour a day is plenty. Exercise is what keeps you looking, feeling and being young.
Exercise for survival is part of our evolution. Did our predecessors ever prioritize a perfect body? So forget about perfection. Now get out there eat healthy, exercise and find your zone to enjoy life to its fullest. PS. Can we have the perfect body? Absolutely! Can you keep it once you've got it? Definitely! But the only way it will really stay is a lot of rigid control (saying no) or a lot of losing control by 'zoning' and regular exercise.
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X Namaste Deb