Every time we enter a checkout lane we are bombarded by imagery and new stories that scream at us to lose weight. Half of the magazines on the news stands say things like “Dr. Pete’s 10 Weight Loss Secrets!” and “How I lost 82 pounds and kept it off!” … the other half are filled with beautiful people that send messages of their own to our brains, like “I should look like that”, “I wish I could look good in that dress”, “I’ll never look like that” or worse – “I’m not good enough”.
This post isn’t about magazines or public images, but rather about OUR image of ourselves. Unfortunately, we tend to take the ideals of our perceived peers and place them upon ourselves – often without ever making the choice to. We often follow societal norms and place those standards onto ourselves as measurements of worth, success and wellbeing. The beauty of being ‘us’ is that we all have it within ourselves to know what is right for us. Our bodies tell us and with care we can grow to understand, respect and appreciate our bodies and the knowledge that they contain.
When I started my journey to fitness and weight loss a few months ago, I had a weight goal in mind. While I didn’t start this to “be skinny”, weight is an easy way to measure the progress. As I began to round down the pounds, I started to feel better – both physically and emotionally. I began to regain my ability to be active without huffing for air or wanting to sit down, and I am still regaining my self-confidence… which brings me to the point of this whole post – Limits.
In life, and especially in weight perception, we often have a distorted view of ourselves. Take for example the ecard below. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard women way something like the saying on it, “I wish I was as thin as when I thought I was fat.”
I remember reading an article about eating disorders long ago, and it discussed the way we can look into a mirror and see a distorted view of reality – I think this ‘humorous’ ecard strikes that chord of truth. I’m ashamed to say that in my younger days I did awful things to lose weight and I regret it still. I had little self-esteem and my body image was so distorted. I can speculate reasoning until I’m blue in the face, but it doesn’t change anything. All that matters is that I can do better now to protect myself and to set a healthy example for my children. I can set limits, and I encourage anyone with a fitness goal to do the same.
I consider a limit to be a bottom line – similar and in line with a goal but not quite the same. The basic idea here is to know your healthy weight and to follow your instincts – not your mind! Feeling good is the deciding factor. There is obviously wiggle room in this as healthy weight ranges can have a 40 pound swing depending on your height and age, so use your judgement, talk to your doctor and decide on a healthy weight for you, set a goal and set a bottom line. Don’t allow outside influences trick you and distort your image of yourself. Write it down, put it on your phone as a reminder – whatever you need to do to remember that this was the decision you made for yourself and you will not be fooled into thinking otherwise.