By Lori Hanson
The olympics are in full swing and it’s day three of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. There’s got to be a comparison in there somewhere right? Ah, yes and there are plenty! It’s so difficult for my dear friends who are caught up in the trap of eating disorders to understand the connection with and appreciation an athlete has for their body and their ability to perform. But at the surface there’s another easy message to digest, if you’re willing to contemplate the comparison and how it adds up.
I was watching the mens cross-country skiing event the other day. Four laps busting their chops with traditional cross-country skis followed by four laps on freestyle. Over an hour of endurance cross-country skiing and unfortunately for the competitors it was 52 degrees. Unusually hot for this type of competition. But I digress. What really struck me about this competition was the variation of sizes and builds the men “come in.” Ahem, it’s kind of hard to miss in those skin-tight ski suits! There were tall thin guys, tall thick guys, shorter muscular guys and shorter lean guys. There was a full variation of builds and muscle definition in that race. And it wasn’t dominated by one particular body type, but by determination and strategy.
So as I watched the race it occurred to me how different men and women are in this respect. You don’t hear men talking about how they wish they were built like Joe who is tall and thin, or Moe who has a solid muscular build. Just thinking about that makes me laugh. Can you hear the conversation of guys at a bar over beers pointing at a Zac Ephron type on the dance floor saying “Oh man, I wish I was built like Zac. I’ve simply got to hit the gym more and eat less so I can look just like Zac because that’s what the girls want.” Sure some men may wish they were taller, thicker or more muscular. But they don’t obsess about it and talk to other guys about how they just didn’t come in the right package (or body type).
Yet, girls and women do it ALL the time. Wasting time day after day after day wanting to look like their favorite celebrity, the most popular girl in school, or if your older wishing you looked like one of the babes on Wysteria Lane. 77% of high school girls say they would like to trade their body for a celebrities! Craziness.
Somewhere along the way we’ve lost the appreciation for individuality and uniqueness. Think what the world would look like if we were all 5’10 and weighed 107 lbs. It would be like a sea of clones, like if everyone drove the same car. BORING. Yet, somewhere along the path this is what’s happening in the thought patterns of young girls (and I went through it too) that we’re all supposed to look “perfect.” That we’re all supposed to fit a certain mold. There is no one form of acceptable. There is only authentic.
What is your authentic body type?
Who are you, at the core?
What do you look like when you are healthy?
When you eat balanced meals with fresh ingredients to give your body high-grade fuel it deserves?
When you exercise to provide it with oxygen to keep it functioning smoothly?
When you take time to improve your mental health through self-discovery and connect with the YOU that you are. Your authentic self. The person you came here to be. Slowing down to contemplate what you need on a daily basis and living from your heart and not your head.
What does that person look like? Do you know her? Do you love and appreciate her?
Don’t get caught up in contemplation and comparison of yourself with others. It breeds thoughts that you don’t measure up, aren’t good enough or don’t fit in. Which in the end adds up to countless errors…in thinking which can pull you down a horrible existence caught in a behavioral trap you’ll soon believe you can’t break. Don’t follow that path. Life is meant to be lived, appreciated and enjoyed.
Be brave, step up and own who you are from your inner most core to the tips of your fingers and toes. Cos after all, everything goes!
Are you caught in the trap of negative body image and/or an eating disorder? Take the first step toward changing it today.