Think and Feel Like a Kid

The other day I was watching some little kids running around.  As they moved I noticed how unique each of them was. One short and stocky, another one fragile and delicate, and yet another tall and athletic.  It struck me that this is how we all start out.  Uniquely different and special.  The really great thing about little ones of all shapes and sizes is their comfort with their body.  They are at home in their bodies and move freely in them.  They haven’t been judged, and haven’t judged themselves. 

But then something happens.  We get older and become exposed to social expectations and media images of how we are supposed to be.  If we don’t measure up to that image we are at risk of developing a wounded self image or we may instead get on the diet treadmill, seeking that perfect form by depriving ourselves of the right to be perfect just as we are. 

Do you think having a “perfect” body by external standards is the same as having a happy, healthy body? Or is it something else, something that for most people, is doomed to failure, because there is no one “perfect” body.  We are each made in a unique way and if we don’t abuse that uniqueness either by over-eating or under-eating, living in our own body should be pretty good.

I’ve been a health coach for many years now, and the pain I’ve seen about being too heavy has a fairly predictable pattern.  It starts with a diet and sometimes a quick weight loss. But the weight goes back on, maybe because someone is eating too much, or because the only thing they lost by dieting was water weight. Then a new diet shows up on the market and they try that. Weight loss/weight gain. Same outcome. Then they may try something more drastic.  The scale becomes the determinant of happiness or grief.  They accept words from their diet coaches like ‘You were bad last week’ or ‘did you cheat?’ or other means of shaming.  Then they are told what they are ‘allowed’ to eat.  Really?  .How can some virtual stranger get away with telling you what you are allowed to eat?  What aren’t they educating you about healthy foods instead of selling you products that aren’t even real food, or may be tasteless ‘nutrition’ drinks.

Oprah has been one of our most visible victims of this approach.  But countless other women, and men, have had similar experiences, only to blame themselves for their failure to become the perfect size.  So they give up and comfort themselves with too much food, or wrap themselves in negative comments thinking they can never be perfect. 

I think we’ll be happier people if we can back to the self-image we had early in life, when no matter what your physique, you owned it and lived in it joyfully because you hadn’t been exposed to subjective judgments. Maybe when we get there we will see many more healthy, happyadults with fewer weight issues. 

Please share your comments.