Many people struggle with body issues at some point in their lives, and it’s taken me about 15 years to understand mine.
Sure we can blame our aesthetic obsession on the media for overly exploiting genetically slim and slender bodies, or fresh-faced 20-somethings promoting skin care products to an audience of 50-somethings hoping to diminish the signs of aging. The smoke-and-mirrors tactic doesn’t adequately portray real life, and thankfully the media doesn’t supply us with our spoon and fork in hand. The power is within ourselves to see through the flawless advertisements, and to maintain a healthy mind and body that will last us our entire lives. It’s important to attain our happiness, and sense of satisfaction in ways that don’t require us to stay away from food.
What may look good to many, does’t necessarily feel good for most. Many of us aren’t genetically lean, so the struggle and deprivation to attain a slender physique can be defeating. The insecurity of aging is real life, and the wheel keeps turning no matter what, so we might as well celebrate making it this far to witness it.
Achieving or maintaining health shouldn’t come with negative feelings, or consist of setting nearly impossible goals. In fact, feeling good isn’t impossible at all. You know the saying when you look good, you feel good? Well, I’m an advocate for using the statement conversely, when you feel good, you look good. Think about it, have you ever encountered someone that didn’t necessarily exemplify societies stereotype of “true beauty” or physique, yet you couldn’t ignore their charismatic aura so rich with confidence you wanted it–whatever it was that made you see this person in such a way?
We’ve all done it: over-eat, over-drink, over-spend, over-sleep etc. While these things make us feel good temporarily, the lasting effects can be detrimental to our sense of wellbeing. Keyword: moderation–I know, I hate it too, but it’s no secret, if you eat like crap you’ll feel like crap.
Overeating isn’t a foreign concept to me. You know the familiar scenario, don’t you? In our fervor of trying to loose a few extra pounds (ahem..or more) we skip a meal–most likely breakfast. Once noon rolls around we’re starving, every ticking minute tha passes is excruciating. As the clock strikes 12:15 we can’t take it anymore, so we prepare half of a bagel with cream cheese to eat. Oh, but we don’t just eat it–we devour it. Skipping breakfast made us hungry! We finally get home, and it’s dinner time–yay! We deserve some kind of positive reinforcement after such an agonizing day.
Why not make the biggest pasta dinner we’ve ever seen? We also decide to add an entire loaf of garlic bread, pour some wine (more than half the bottle), and throw in some ice cream for dessert. Sounds like an amazing affair if you ask me, so what’s the problem? Well, how do you feel after racing through three bowls of pasta, or four slices of pizza? If you’re me, you feel like crap for two reasons: 1) your body can’t handle overeating and 2) you just ruined your impossible efforts to basically starve yourself earlier in the day. Basically we’re left with a stomach full of regrets.We strive to jump over various hurdles of hell just to be more pleasing to the eyes, but whose eyes are we trying to please exactly? We make sch harsh sacrifices to look good, while the biggest sacrifice being made is that we compromise actually feeling good.
My nutrition professor explained the three body types (also known as Body Somatypes) using dog breeds and it made perfect sense to me. Ectomorphs are generally tall and lean, and resemble the build of a greyhound with little fat and little muscle. Endomorphs are the exact opposite having a lot of body fat and a lot of muscle, and are known to be heavier and rounder. Mesomorphs are athletic and strong, and their solid structure can resemble a pit bull. While it’s genetically difficult for Ectomorphs to gain fat and muscle, Endomorphs gain both very easily, and Mesomorphs can gain and lose both quite easily.
Just as no two dogs are the same, no two humans are the same. Does a greyhound even remotely resemble a pit bull in any way? No! Honestly, imagine a stalky pit bull skipping meals in hopes of looking like the tall and slender greyhound… We aren’t dogs–obviously, but we are animals. The idea of anyone going through such great lengths to try and look like someone else should shock some sense into us.
Take my Cross Country experience for example. I already loved running, but I initially started competing with the notion that I’d get super skinny from all the running. I was faced with one problem: running 30+ miles a week made me so hungry. Have you ever tried running on an empty stomach? I don’t recommend it. I had to eat a lot in order to maintain the proper fuel that my body required in order to run long distances. I didn’t become as thin as the other girls, but I can tell you that I was in the best shape of my life and I felt amazing inside. It was almost as if all the gears inside my body were operating exquisitely. I was exercising and eating properly, which meant no skipping meals and no overeating!
We have to remember that while someone is desperately trying to lose weight, someone is trying just as hard to gain it. Although numbers on a scale can control our lives, they shouldn’t. We need to start allowing health and happiness to take center stage, we need to change our approach.
Let’s face it, lifestyle changes don’t happen over night–but that’s just it. Our bodies are unique works of art that require maintenance and special care every day, forever. We need to get to know our bodies. We should acknowledge what it likes and doesn’t like. If you listen, your body will communicate with you. I like to put health at the forefront of my life now, and realize that it doesn’t matter if my beauty or physique measure up to what others think of me–what matters most is what I think of me.
I take care of my body, and I listen to my body with the hopes that it will last for the next 40-50 years. My body and I are great friends, and when my body disagrees with something I listen because my body is the boss.
“Ate The Kitchen” via Pop Sugar
“Expecting Results” via Someecards
“Healthy Habits” via Pinterest
Body Somatypes: Fink, Heather Hedrick., Lisa A. Burgoon, and Alan E. Mikesky. Practical Applications in Sports Nutrition. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 2009. Print.