In my nutrition course a few weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to hear a lecture by Keri Gans, RD. She talked of small steps toward health changes – drink more water, make smart swaps, etc. Her thoughts were simple and profound, easy things to do that I have since taken for granted. But when she got to the slide of measuring success, be it through blood tests, the scale, or the circumference of the waist or thighs or arms, I sat back and wondered where our system had failed those trying to be healthy? So many numbers. Now, I’m a numbers person, I mean I’m majoring in mathematical economics. Come on. Math is my life. But obsessing over numbers can become tedious, unhealthy, and down right dangerous. For some, this may work -- many health concerns are pivoted upon the underweight/overweight scale and it is important to know these figures and numbers. But what happens to the Type A, strive for perfection, desiring nothing but improvement kind of person, the people that live within their mind, talking over every decision, anxious over rights and wrongs and everything in between who are just trying to look in the mirror and not be disappointed. Today, it is impossible to search on the internet for health tips without stumbling across apps that track amounts, encouraging signs to step on the scale, and measuring tapes to count the inches. What happened to just feeling good?
How does it feel to be in your body? Do you feel lethargic or fit and thriving? Are you craving movement or relaxation? Does your body want to wiggle and jump it feels so good, or are you wishing for a different body, one that is not your own? These are the questions we need to be gauging ourselves against. Not what is the number on the scale, how many pounds have you lost, what are the inches around your waist? At times, these questions can be important; health risks are doubled and tripled as the numbers grow. However, trying to feel good in your own skin, not feeling self-conscious, just trying to appreciate the reflection facing you in the mirror, these feelings don’t need to be clouded by guilt or heaviness.
It’s been known that as a society, we revolve around our numbers, the size of our jeans, the number we order from an online catalog. What if the sizes we ordered were based on our emotions -- obviously a little harder to mass-produce. But I’m sure we could figure out something. Remember the Special K commercial where the jeans were sized based on feeling sexy, sassy, and awesome? This touched on something that could be incredibly profound for those who look at themselves in the mirror and see numbers and criticism floating around their heads.
Rather than focus on the number, how about we think about how are clothing feels against our skin, how good we feel when we walk down the sidewalk or talk to our neighbor. Be present in the moment and less so in the body. Zone into what others are saying rather than criticizing the shape. Try to respect yourself, thinking of how you might encourage a friend worrying over their body, but also respect others by not being all consumed by your image and appearance. Just be yourself, be as confident as you can, and love all those you are able.
These suggestions are not easy, and for most of us, we have spent our lives critiquing ourselves in the mirror or being nit picky over what was worn or how the photograph looked. All of us have been there. It's okay! It is so absolutely okay for that to have happened as long as there is a concentrated effort for the madness to stop. For us to look in the mirror or not look at all and still feel like crowns are on our heads and we're ready to rule the world. There is no final resting place or age that we finally get to where all the insecurities fall away and we get to be 100% comfortable, no effort needed. It's going to take a daily reminder that it really only depends on actions and belief. If we wrap ourselves in no judgement and look upon others with no judgement, then we create this universe where only hope and love and truth can blossom. Our actions, both large and small, can have this incredible impact to those around us, whether they are ready to stop being critical of themselves or not. We can grant this permission for love, for safety, but we must start so first by granting it towards ourselves.
Who's with me?
What are your thoughts on measuring success? Do you think measuring how you feel is a good idea?
[images from Pinterest]