The quest for body perfection has become a tricky little bastard with a tricky little way to fool you…  It has wrapped itself up in “health”… as in, if you keep trying to get a perfect body you will be healthy… like counting every calorie and tracking every rep is a healthier way to eat and exercise…. Like having “6 pack” abs is a definition of health.  I have my own ideas now about extreme exercise that I won’t share – I really, really, want to end the cycle of judging others and how they choose to take care of their bodies but I also want other women to know that it’s okay to question this…. That it’s okay to wonder how exercising to the point of injury is “healthy”.

I recently had a very interesting conversation with a woman about this judgment.  We were talking about family vacations and she indicated that when they vacation with their whole family they really have to consider her father-in-law who has had 2 hip replacements since he was 55.  Yep, that’s right first hip replacement at 55.  He had always been an extreme athlete, played football through high school and college.  Often played when he was injured.  Then, he became a runner and often continued running against medical advice.  As she started to express how bad she felt for him I stopped her and I asked her how she would feel if her father-in-law was fat.  If he was obese and because of this obesity he had required 2 hip replacements in less than 20 years.  She agreed that this was a very interesting question – that many would see an obese person requiring these surgeries as a “they did it to themselves…” and cast judgment and possibly say derogatory things about the cost to our healthcare system.  And really, what’s the difference?  Her father-in-law mistreated his body too – just because his mistreatment made his body look good didn’t change the fact that his health was compromised by the way he treated his body.

I remember, before children, when I was “imaginary fat” – I always used to commiserate with my friends that I just wished that my body would reflect how hard I worked at the gym… Ugh, I want to hug that woman, and then slap her…  My body did reflect how hard I worked – I just didn’t “see” it… I will never quite understand how I managed to convince myself that if I just worked out harder and ate so much less that somehow that would make my legs and my torso longer…  it’s true, I was striving for a body that only someone a good 4 or 5 inches taller than myself would ever have!  That certainly speaks to the effective brainwashing of the diet and exercise industry.

In any event, I guess I am ready to change the dialogue – ready to ask the tough questions of people and how they view their own bodies as well as others.  It’s time to shift our attitudes about health and realize that the quest for skinny has never been about that.

body health

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