I’m on a new quest!
I’ve always thought there were ways to become healthier and happier without struggle, deprivation, and resistance…but finding those paths seems to come in small bits and get diluted by all the societal inputs we have that promote the negative practices. I do pass on the insights as I find them–I want you to slide effortlessly toward great health and happiness too. It can, however, be difficult to live in our culture and not be mean to ourselves.
We’ve been trained to put harsh restrictions on ourselves, and then to beat ourselves into submission in order to achieve good health (and likely, we’re more focused on external measures like weight, anyway). We follow this up with judgment, restrictive behaviors, and punishment when we don’t live up to the expectations.
There’s a huge disconnect here, just like in other areas of our culture for which we continue to maintain status quo when we know it’s a bad idea. An example is the microwave: we know it’s bad for us, but because everyone else keeps using theirs and the government isn’t making them illegal…we use ours too, or we don’t even question its safety level in the first place. In fact, I asked my students this morning if there was anyone who doesn’t use a microwave, and no one raised their hand. (We were so off topic—we were actually talking about drunk driving, but I totally connected the analogy later). Once they found out that I don’t use a microwave, they kept asking questions—how do I cook vegetables? How do I heat up leftovers? When was the last time I microwaved something? Do I just make new food everyday? How long does it take me to cook? ….you get the idea. It never occurred to most of them to not use a microwave, even though most of them could relate to the idea that it might not be a healthy appliance.
Dieting and other health choices fall directly into this same category. We are concerned about health, wellness, and appearance, but we keep participating in activities that aren’t healthy, just because they are “normal” and “accepted.” Did you know that San Francisco banned most McDonald’s Happy Meals because of how unhealthy they are? This, to me, is a good first step—they’re bucking the system of maintaining the status quo!
I’d like to challenge you (and myself) to do this on a personal level too. Sure, read the info so you know what’s healthy, but the next time you have a health decision to make, try thinking about your body as another person.
What would this look like?
It’s 11am. I’m hungry and tired, and I don’t feel like going to yoga today.
My mentor says, “Your body is an amazing thing, just as it is now. Take care of her.”
I pause and think about what that means. My mind is on overdrive, on autopilot, and I’m reacting to patterns and habits ingrained in the grooves of my brain. I might eat (or overeat), and then feel badly about it…go to yoga and not do well, or stay home and feel guilty for not going, etc.
But what if I thought about my body as another person, a person I love dearly? If the person in question was my mom, I would find out what the most cherishing, loving thing to do would be for her in that moment…and I would want her to do that for herself. Because I want her to be happy, healthy, and well in every moment and feel good about it too.
Can we think about our own selves/bodies that way too?
It’s the only body you’ve got, and she will treat you better if you take care of her.