If someone asked you to stand up in front of a group of people in your underwear, would you be comfortable with it? Most likely, you wouldn’t. If you’re like most people, there are a few things you’d like to hide about your body, and if you believe the media hype, you’ll never be good enough or perfect enough.
Just watch any thirty-minute segment of television or listen to the radio for a bit and you’ll be bombarded with ads for foods that make you slimmer, lasers that remove your hair, gym memberships to eliminate cellulite, clothes to make you more attractive, make-up to hide your flaws, shoes to make you look taller, nylons that make you look smaller…the list goes on and on.
And the truly frightening part of it is that you’ll never be perfect enough, not if our media has its way. You will always have one lump too many on your thighs, be one size bigger than you should be, and look five years older than you’d like to. It’s a game that’s impossible to win, and in the midst of it all, we’ve lost site of the point.
To be beautiful and attractive, you must be healthy. Health IS beauty. The reality is, we get healthy to look better because staring at your body in the mirror and piecing apart the things you don’t like isn’t too pleasant. But we’ve made ill health into a character flaw. Thighs a little rounder than the average? You’re probably eating too much (bad you!). Belly got a little cushion on it? Well, you’re sure not exercising hard enough (lazy you!).
The problem is, as long as you keep trying to punish your body into submission, you’re not going to reach your goals. You’ve got to start with why…why do you want to make changes to your health and lifestyle in the first place? Is it because you want to look better or feel better?
If you keep telling yourself you’re a fat, lazy slob, then when you pick up the fork to dig into a big green salad, your brain is going to shout at you that you’re such a loser, you don’t get to have the delicious cheesy pizza because you’re so fat and lazy and you don’t work out enough. If, however, you make the decision that you want to feel amazing (and LOOK amazing) in your body, you’ll attack that salad with relish because you’ve trained your brain to buy into your goals.
When you make yourself wrong or bad, then everything you do feels like a punishment. Going to the gym? Well, that’s ‘cuz you got fat. If you didn’t get fat, you wouldn’t have to go torture yourself. See how this is very different than thinking Now it’s time to go to the gym which is going to make my brain and body feel so much better and take me one step closer to my goal!
We live in a culture that loves to make people wrong and bad. Just look at shows like The Biggest Loser which essentially parades people’s inner emotional baggage around on public television for others to gawk at. Some might argue that the show jolts people out of their unhealthy lifestyles and promotes diet and exercise changes for the better. Maybe, but when you make someone wrong like that, how sustainable is the change?
As Brendan Brazier, vegan triathlete and author of Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance In Sports and Life, says, “Willpower is a finite resource.” When you’re fighting against yourself, as you do when you’ve made yourself wrong, you’ll eventually run out of brain power to go for the salad. When you work with your goals and desires, on the other hand, and going for the salad isn’t a punishment or a deprivation, you’ll stick with healthy habits longer.
The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with you exactly as you are right now. Health and beauty don’t exist at some definite point in the future, but rather on a continuum. If you make healthy choices today, you will be slightly healthier tomorrow, and so on and so forth. Health – weight loss and all other manifestations thereof – is a result of daily, weekly, and monthly habits and decisions.
Where are you making yourself wrong? How can you let go of the notion of punishment and start embracing healthy lifestyle habits not because you have to, but because you want to? Leave me a comment below and tell me how you’re making this shift in your life.