I grew up looking at underweight and yet impossibly perfect models on the pages of magazines. It did a number on me. Made me feel ashamed of my fleshy thighs, my broad shoulders, my small breasts. Sparked an unhealthy, decades long troubled relationship with food and my body.
A few years ago, when super-fit, uber lean models started to become popular, I celebrated! Progress, I thought! Perhaps my daughters wouldn’t have to grow up surrounded by such destructive images! Strength a desirable quality? Sign me up!
And as I began my journey towards health, I kept those images close. I replaced the skinny ideal with the super-fit, super-lean ideal as my goal. I began to hear the phrase ‘Strong is the New Skinny’ and was thrilled. I’ve kept a picture of Dara Torres at her leanest on my fridge for four years as inspiration. Crossfit gained in popularity and with it images of strong women accomplishing incredible feats of strength and fitness. How wonderful! Take that, skinny models and the magazines that pushed them on my impressionable daughters!
As I got closer to my goal of a lean, fit body though, something started to change. I began to realize how much time I spend thinking about my diet and my workouts. Don’t get me wrong. In our modern food climate, we need to be diligent and mindful about what we eat, and our lifestyles have become so sedentary and easy that we need to make time to get the exercise that was a built-in component of our ancestors lives. But as I got leaner, I needed to become increasingly disciplined about calories and macronutrients. At some point I realized I’d gone beyond simple mindfulness about food, and had ventured into the sort of behavior that some people might consider an eating disorder. Every calorie, every gram of protein, every micronutrient was being tracked. That’s what I needed to do to continue getting leaner. But oh, did I look great!
Do I want my daughters to grow up healthy and strong? Absolutely. Do I want them to feel pressured to be as disciplined about their diets as I am? Absolutely not.http://gokaleo.com/?p=431
Click on through to read the rest. She details the effort she made to hit figure-model leanness. She provides pictures of how incredible she looks. She also details how awful she felt getting and remaining there.
Well worth the read as a cautionary tale to re-consider your appearance-based goals.
Base your goals on HEALTH.
This is something I need to get on board with. And sooner rather than later. I keep thinking, "Well, first let me drop this fat and then I'll work on being happy with my body at maintenance." So why don't I start working on it NOW? I know that this obsession over how I look is decidedly not healthy.
Yet even as I was reading this post, I thought, "Well, sure, easy for her to decide she's done obsessing now that she looks like a model." But am I even willing to suffer what it would take to look like that? I don't know. I have spent 18 months feeling like shit mentally; I am not inclined to spend more time feeling like shit physically. I am tired of obsessing over every morsel I eat, and I'm beyond tired of disliking my body.
And just look where it's gotten me. Am I happier with my body now than I was 4 years ago? Not really. I mean, I'm happier with my life as a whole, yes, abso-fucking-lutely, without question. And when I stop to really factor in my strength & speed & general bad-assery, yes, I realize I'm pretty damn thrilled with my body's capabilities, and furthermore I'm excited to see what else it can accomplish.
But put me in front of a mirror, and my gut reaction (hardy har har) is exactly the same as it was 4 years ago: Ugh, look at that belly.
So how the fuck do I shake this obsession?