Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Mantra: Love EVERY Single Part of YOUR Body

This post has been sitting in my draft folder for quite a while now and this weekend I finally took the time to insert some final thoughts. Body image is a big topic in today's world, and can be a tough area to navigate no matter your size, shape, fitness level or gender. 

A while back, I ran across this picture online of a street display in Toronto created to raise awareness of how the unrealistic images we see in media and advertising can affect the self-esteem of girls and women. Created by NEDIC - National Eating Disorder Information Centre of Canada, the display reads:

"For years, body image among girls and women has taken a hit from the beauty industry's ubiquitous message that 'skinny is hot' and any other look is 'not'. Now is your chance to send the beauty industry a message. If you think it's time fashion editors and lifestyle advertisers broadened their definition of beauty and inspired us with a range of different shapes and sizes, ditch one or all or your women's magazines through the slot on the other side of this transit shelter." 

What do you think? I agree that magazines (or the media in general) often contributes to struggles with self-esteem & weight. We are each uniquely made and, so why seek to recreating ourselves to attain the look of cover models? Instead, why not seek to be the BEST version of our own self?

As a young women, I am not far removed from college and high school and remember well the struggles I faced in the development of a positive body image and general self-esteem along the way. However, this is not a challenge just reserved for younger individuals, or females. We live in a world that is very "image" focused, and body talk is an every day occurrence in our society, no matter the age OR gender. We are often our own self-critic when it comes to this subject, yet I do think much of the struggle is perpetuated by a society that flaunts "skinny" as "powerful" or "beautiful," worships muscles and lean physiques and generally places a large emphasis on appearance. We are constantly bombarded by messages of "weight loss rules and tips," "how to be bikini ready by summer" or "how to detox from head to toe." With the rising popularity of social media outlets, it's becoming harder to avoid such messages and even more difficult to distinguish myth vs. fact when it comes to body appearance or what's considered "healthy" and "normal." It's overwhelming how much of the content on my pinterest feed now contains these types of messages:

I don't know about you, but I have enough on my plate and prefer to keep things simple:

Okay, it's easy to say "love your body" and be your own best friend when it comes to positive body image self-talk... but realistically, what does that truly look like? I think the journey is individual and lifelong, but it starts with loving and appreciating your body for what it is TODAY. Not tomorrow, not after losing 5 pounds, investing a few months into lifting at the gym or after buying a new wardrobe. TODAY!

Even those smelly athletic feet of mine. It's important to love those too.
For me personally, one of the biggest steps in loving my own body a little more was to put away the scale. We own a scale, and it sits in the closet, more often than not covered by a pile of dirty clothes. Every once in a while I'll pull it out and weight myself, but that has become less and less frequent. AS a result, my confidence in training, racing, or in day-to-day life has been removed from whether or not I'm at my self-determined "ideal weight." I recently had a long conversation with a fellow athlete-dietitian who has taken a similar approach. Sure, from a weight loss perspective the scale can provide beneficial objective feedback, but from a body-image standpoint, it only seems to fuel a cultural affixation on numbers rather than health.

Of course, what we eat is closely tied into this subject as well. Food sometimes equals stress because we worry about the consequences it might have on our appearance. That has always been part of the reasoning behind my blog title and motto: real food for fuel. Food is meant to be fuel and not the enemy. We are meant to nourish our body with nutrients rather than deprive ourselves of calories. Lately, I have found that since emphasis has been removed from weight, so has my concern with always eating "optimally" or healthy. To quote Julia Child: 

"Everything in moderation... including moderation."

Keep in mind that this is just my take on the issue, with the focus being on battling the messages we hear and see in the media and finding a more sustainable and healthy focus. I am not trying to say that a goal of weight loss is a bad thing. It's totally possible to love your body and strive for improvement at the same time. 

Just don't forget to love it above all things =D

1 comment:

  1. Glad you mentioned it's not only young people or females! I know a lot of runner dudes, very much so me included, are like, "shit, I don't look like Anton. If I did I'd be faster and more confident." Best version of "you" is right!


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