When we diet, try to get in shape, or just generally try to improve our bodies, we tend to focus on the appearance–our scale weight and measurements, for example. Not many of us focus on what embracing a healthy lifestyle truly means. And that is not the weight on the scale. Today’s lesson is about letting go of appearances and focusing on what true health means.
Don’t Own Your Body
There’s a piece of advice I remember often: Your body is temporary, but your soul is everlasting. So is your weight, your appearance even. Your body is also constantly going through changes, day in and day out–so it never truly stays the same.
When people begin dieting or eating in a way to preserve what they think is their “perfect” body type, this is when the trouble begins. Your body doesn’t always want to cooperate. What you weighed 5 years ago necessarily isn’t maintainable now, for many reasons.
But, unfortunately, we don’t realize our bodies and our weights are temporary and ever-changing, and shouldn’t be fit into any predetermined molds. Your perfect weight isn’t 130lbs, even if you weighed that little 10 years ago. Attempting to force your body to be at a weight for years or decades when your body is constantly changing can bring about problems–for instance, you may have a lot of trouble maintaining that weight, and as a result, may resort to more extreme methods to maintain the weight.
The Danger of Forcing Unnatural Body Maintenance
Several years ago, I had a friend–we’ll call her Alice–who constantly fought to keep her weight below 100lbs. Anything above that put her into emergency mode, and she often went to extreme methods to lower her weight. She tried keeping her calories under 1000 calories a day. She took laxatives.
Her extreme measures, not surprisingly, caused binges. Her behavior was highly characteristic of rigid dieting. This type of diet is always enforcing control over your eating habits, even when these actions aren’t always appropriate. You’re probably thinking: What’s so bad about that? Aren’t we supposed to control our diet? She’d binge on all of the foods she couldn’t eat while starving herself, become upset, and then vow to restart her diet and never binge again. Of course, that never happened. I watched her starve herself, gobble laxatives and have uncontrollable binges for 5 years.
It was sad to see her struggle, but she refused to change–all out of some preconceived notion that her natural weight “should” be under 100lbs. Of course, that’s the greatest irony…trying to force your body to maintain a natural weight, when in fact the things you do to maintain it are far from natural (or healthy).
One Thing to Consider Before Losing Weight
If you’re on a journey to losing weight, or perhaps molding a new physique, ask yourself this: Am I aiming for a healthy, maintainable goal? Or am I trying to force myself to maintain a physique based on what I think is perfect?
The problem lies in the intent, not the end goal. If your goal is perfection, you won’t achieve it. But if your goal is for a purpose that extends beyond just your weight, such as being more physically healthy, you most likely can achieve it. Your weight and body constantly change, making it unwise to impose such strict, inflexible expectations, such as you must maintain this weight. But health, true physical and mental health, is constant. How you determine true health is ultimately up to you, however.
Focus on your health, not your body
Instead of asking “How much weight should I lose?”, ask yourself what you can do about your health to get the best out of your physique. This doesn’t necessarily mean losing weight. For me, it means maximizing my strength.
Physique improvement just isn’t about weight loss; it can be the transformation of your body that helps you become stronger and more functional.