We are doing the best we can.
So what, we are fat, who cares?
Everybody is fat.
You are either really fat, kinda fat or trying not to be fat.
Either way, fat is coming.
And either way, embrace it!
There is something about summer that gets people going nuts around food, exercise and looking good at this time of the year. Thank goodness summer is nearly over! Having the perfect ‘beach body’ is a strong pressure for many American women – young and old. We tend to indulge in many vices during the summer as well – beer, ice cream, margaritas, hot dogs and apple pie, so the challenge to stay ‘swimsuit ready’ is a real one. And then, a mere three months later, its over and we have the holidays to confront which are notorious opportunities for over indulging, bingeing and stress eating.
Health is an interesting topic in America. We spend literally billions of dollars on exercise, diets and healthcare each year. There are low calorie, low fat, low sugar, low carb diets, detox diets, gluten-free, Keto, Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, pescatarian, intermittent fasting diets…there is even a cabbage soup diet! As a society, we obsess about weight and we foster these unhealthy behaviors in our youth. Our teens and college-aged young men and women binge, purge, vomit, skip meals, fast and exercise excessively to control their weight. There are documentaries like Fed Up, Forks Over Knives, Food, Inc., and Supersize Me that have been viewed by millions. The trailer for the 2016 documentary, Embrace, that explores body image and self-loathing, with a message meant to inspire and transform our beliefs, has been watched over 45 million times. Yes, we are fascinated by all things having to do with weight, food, sugar, fat, being fat and being skinny.
Long ago, we stopped eating for hunger. We eat to socialize, to entertain, to relieve boredom, loneliness and stress. We eat to cope. We eat to not feel. We eat because it’s lunchtime. We eat because there is a fast food restaurant within a block of everywhere we are. We eat to numb ourselves. We eat to fit in.
There are literally thousands upon thousands of books, articles, blogs, TV shows and now podcasts about dieting, and weight loss. Some of these touch on why we are obsessed with all things food and all things weight related, but without much depth. Some mention the insane and relentless narratives that exist in our country about the obsession with being skinny and the abhorrence of being fat. Some dare to mention the relationship between eating disorders and trauma and the agonizing battle between wanting to heal and wanting to keep the weight on to avoid being touched or seen. For the most part, however, anyone reading these articles or blogs, or listening to these podcasts is left feeling like s/he/they is the problem. You are simply not disciplined enough, you don’t have enough will power, you are weak, lazy and lack self control. Food is not to be enjoyed, food is to be controlled. Exercise is not about moving your body and staying healthy, it is about being fit and losing weight.
This blog is simply an invitation to explore, question, inquire and tell the truth.
You have all the answers you will ever need. The ‘answers’ to stopping yourself from obsessing about food and your diet and what you look like is not ‘out there’. Unfortunately, there will always be a collective narrative about women’s bodies and what they should look like. (Sadly, there is an increasing narrative about what we should and shouldn’t do with our bodies as well, but I’ll leave that for another blog!). The answer to becoming at peace with your own body, your own weight and your own diet is to LEARN ABOUT YOU.
Circle back to YOU! This is YOUR life, YOUR body, YOUR truth.
Below you will find a series of questions to ponder, write about, discuss and several suggestions for actions to take in order to learn more about yourself. No matter your weight or your fitness level, my hope is that you appreciate your own opinion and your own voice…that you NOURISH your own body, your own spirit and FLOURISH.
- Educate yourself
- Pay attention to what you are eating
Learning about food is hard. There are so many different perspectives, views and opinions about what is ‘good’ for you or ‘bad’ for you. Unfortunately, our American society tends to be immersed in a narrative that ‘skinny = healthy’ and ‘fat = unhealthy’, with no regard to body type, shape, musculature or functionality. Take time to educate yourself – find some information about foods, supplements and nutrients that contribute to better health and functioning – from a source that you respect. (I have a couple resources at the end of this book that I personally have found valuable).
Pay attention to how you feel physically and emotionally when you eat. Notice if you ENJOY the taste, flavor, and how the food settles in your stomach. Notice if it affects your energy or mood in any way. Notice if you were hungry to start with and satiated at the end.
- What is your own narrative around weight ?
- What do you value when it comes to health ?
Fit or Fat? Fit and Fat? What is your truth? What are your narratives, beliefs, stereotypes, judgements? What were you taught by your own family and society? Which narratives do you subscribe to? Which do you reject? Which narratives do you attribute to yourself, to others? When it comes to weight and looks, what do you value? Where do you fall in your own eyes? Where are you being judgmental and critical of yourself and where are you being accepting, loving, forgiving and kind?
I invite you to journal, explore and share your ideas about these questions. Freedom comes from being honest with oneself. The most well-established recovery programs, the 12-Step Programs, including Overeaters Anonymous and Food Addicts Anonymous, are designed around the premise of telling the truth and sharing with others. Knowing your own values, beliefs and truths is the place to start to find more inner peace – to Flourish and Nourish your own body and spirit.
- What does it mean to be healthy?
- What does it mean to be fit and strong?
- What does it mean to you to ‘flourish’ and what can you do today to start that journey?
We often confuse health with a certain weight and attribute the description of healthy to people who are thin, and unhealthy to people who are overweight. However, I’m sure we all know someone who is thin, who eats poorly and never exercises. They look good on the outside, but perhaps on the inside their bodies would tell a different story. The bottom line is that we do not know the state of someone’s health based on their looks. Knowing your own level of fitness, your own health status is up to you. Knowing what it means to you to be healthy, fit, strong, and have energy and vitality is essential. Do strong bones, strong immune system, lots of energy, good eyesight fit into your definition?
Three years ago, I was 5’3″, weighed 120 lbs, was a vegetarian, didn’t smoke and didn’t drink alcohol. From the outside, I looked fit and healthy. I led a healthy lifestyle by most standards. However, inside my body, a war was raging. I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. Being healthy, fit and strong took on a whole other meaning and importance to me. What ‘healthy’ means to me now includes ‘happy’ and ‘peaceful’ and ‘balanced’ and ‘joyful.’ Being ‘fit’ means that I can move my arms freely after having had a double mastectomy. Exercise needs to be FUN for me ~ enjoyable and invigorating. Being strong means that I set boundaries, can move my body freely, can sit and stand and move up and down freely, with ease and comfort. I’m definitely fatter than I have ever been, less fit than I’ve ever been and much stronger than I’ve ever been, emotionally and physically.
Take time to journal today ~ explore your own definitions, your own truth and set your own path forward.
Tell your truth. NOURISH your body and your spirit will FLOURISH.
- Dr. Marcus and Rebecca Porrino, Naturopathic Physicians, Sonoma CA http://www.sonomanatmed.com/our-doctors/marcus-porrino-nd/
- Trudy Scott, CN https://www.everywomanover29.com/about.html
The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Ending Overeating by Ken Goss, PsyD
50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food by Susan Albers, PsyD
Women Food and God by Geneen Roth, PhD
Embrace Documentary: https://bodyimagemovement.com/embrace/