Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Body Image

So I'm sitting at my computer this morning with my cuppa, flipping through this and that while the TV is droning in the background. I'm not really paying attention to it, but as my laptop is permanently attached to the internet cable (what can I say, I thought I was getting wireless when I ordered it... silly me) I can see the screen in my periphery vision.

One of those ubiquitous weight loss commercial comes on:
After having three kids I was fat fat fat. I was unhealthy and miserable. I couldn't play with my kids. Small animals ran from me in terror and confusion. Everywhere I went people shunned me and threw stones. So I started taking this product. And in 3 months I went from a size 12 to a size 2. Look at me now! My husband can't keep his hands off me. Small woodland creatures rush to my side when I break into song. I've never been so popular! Look how happy I am now!
Okay, so that isn't typically the script they use, but you get the general idea. By taking this product, by doing these exercises, by eating this food you can drop your dream amount of weight and be a sexy size 2 with slim hips, perky breasts, and abs that just don't quit.

What they neglect to point out is that you can have all of those things... if you're genetically predisposed to them.

It is not surprising that so many people hop from weight loss fad to weight loss fad, never happy with the results. They don't lose the weight as fast as they want from the areas they want. Or maybe there is just too much sacrifice involved; let's face it, not everyone is going to thrive on a vegan/primal/raw/no-carb what-have-you diet. Some of us are genetically designed to handle dairy... some of us aren't. Some of us thrive on a nearly grain-less diet, but others find themselves running for the nearest baguette after a week of no grains.

We as a nation are so out of touch as to what our individual bodies need and what they actually look like when healthy that we can't find our way out of the dark. We're told we need milk for calcium, and that dairy is a big no-no. We're told breads and grains are the enemy and that gluten-free is the way to be, yet quinoa and Thai forbidden rice are the things to serve at your next dinner party. Meat clogs your arteries, and yet it's the best protein source out there. You shouldn't eat avocados and nuts because they're full of fat... but it's a good kind of fat so you can still eat them.

We're lied to by our own government about what is healthy, and even our doctors don't have a grasp on decent nutrition. Anyone with an internet connection can come up with and sell a weight loss regimen founded on "real science" (that they found on the internet, conducted and funded by lord knows who).

What we really need to do is start listening to our own bodies. We can all agree that fruits, veggies and minimally processed foods are generally a body's best bet. As for the rest - protein, grains, dairy, nuts, fats - experiment. What works for you? Vegan? Good for you. Does a diet that is mainly vegetarian with meat a few times a month work? Great! Do that. Do you need more meat and veg, less fruit and grains to thrive? Have at it.

And remember that at the end of it, you just want to be healthy. If you end up losing some weight that you needed to lose then great. But if you are not genetically pre-disposed to be 5'7", 125 pounds with slim hips, a flat tummy and perky boobs, then no amount of dieting or exercising is going to change that.

Be you. You're fabulous already. Why be anyone else?

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