We have become a FitBit, extreme exercise, “healthy” eating, diet and weight loss OBSESSED society.
The self-improvement obsession has reached nearly every facet of society; from the diet and body image obsessed teenager to the air waves of the Christian radio station. The obsession over weight, body, and what is considered “healthy” is everywhere. Lately I’ve noticed my attention turning toward these obsessions and finding my frustrations growing over how the these topics seem to be all anyone can talk about. One of the most common things people comment on when trying to give a compliment is someone’s weight. “Have you been losing weight?” or “You look like you’ve lost weight.” You can’t even purchase a new iPhone without having a pre-loaded app that tracks your daily steps and physical “stats” if you enter them. Our culture is obsessed with trying to alter our image; trying to become someone different.
Almost always when people talk about what is “healthy” in regards to food they are talking about it because they are trying to lose weight. Sometimes people change their eating habits because they generally want to feel better, but more often than not the motivation toward “healthy” or “organic” eating is purely for weight loss. Thinking, “If I eat all organic food, I will lose weight.” Not only that, but the loose research on what is considered healthy produces fads about certain foods that actually are not any better or worse nutritionally than the original product they are trying to replace. The product that most comes to mind is the new fad obsession with PB2, which is powdered peanut butter. Nutritionally it is not any better than the natural peanut butter you can already find in stores. If you’re arguing with my statement in your head right now that’s okay, just know I work with a real-life dietician weekly. I think it should be a health insurance requirement for all Americans to see a dietitian on a yearly basis because it would really help enlighten those who believe in the hyped up chatter about what foods are “healthy” and why we “shouldn’t” eat certain things. My dietician has really opened my eyes to the fallacy that is the U.S. “healthy” obsessed culture.
Recently, while listening to the local Christian radio station, I was disappointed and a little perturbed by the extensive conversation and promotion of the “21-day no junk food challenge” many of the radio personalities are doing. The lady describing the challenge went on and on about all the foods she “couldn’t” have during this challenge and how she really misses some of them. So many specific foods were listed. It felt like I was listening to my eating disorder voice on the radio. She encouraged listeners to go on the website, check out how to do the challenge, and post about it on the radio station’s social media page. I was so frustrated that I am in the process of drafting a letter about my disappointment to the radio station. I listen to that specific station to be uplifted and encouraged while I am driving and instead I had to fight my eating disorder even harder because of the lengthy conversation about a food challenge. Everyone is obsessed. (Okay, maybe not everyone, but most people are obsessed.)
What if our obsession turned toward greater things? Such as helping others. Stick with me for a minute, if we simply accepted ourselves exactly as we are in this moment, the amount of time spent obsessing over healthy eating, body image, weight, and exercise could be spent uplifting others. I, clearly, am not immune to this self-obsessed society, as I spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking about my weight and body size. However, I am on a path many in our society will never dare to take: a path of complete self-acceptance.
I am learning to truly love my flaws and accept my size may never be acceptable to our society. It is a complete challenge in itself. It isn’t a challenge that is part of a fad, in fact I imagine it really won’t catch on, but imagine if it did. Realistically, I am healthy at this weight and size. Others may look at me and think otherwise, but even my doctor agrees, I am healthy. I am not hindered by my size…other than when shopping for clothes but thanks to Torrid, there is a remedy for that. Once I can rid myself of this obsession plaguing the U.S. (and much of the world) I will have more space in my mind, heart, and life to help others. Perhaps it is a false belief, but I would like to believe this blog is helping others now. I know writing it helps me process the thoughts and frustrations that occur by living in this self-improvement obsessed society.
So, my challenge for you today is to say something positive about your body every time a thought enters your mind about how much you don’t like your body. You might just be surprised how often you say something negative about yourself because now you will be replacing it with a positive. For example, “I shouldn’t eat this _______. It will make me fat.” could be replaced with, “I am strong and healthy and eating one ________ will not make me fat.” Yes it will take time, and yes, some of the negative comments will slip in without being noticed, but when you notice them, challenge them. I will be challenging myself to do the same.
With Body Love,