My hubby Daz is on a health kick. You know the sort that starts with “I think my jeans have shrunk” and then “hang on a minute, have ALL my jeans shrunk?”
A Christmas and New Year indulgence, and one too many months away from the gym have seen him looking wistfully at old, leaner photos of himself, wondering if it’s time to throw in the towel and buy a wardrobe full of draw string pants.
Instead, he’s taken up the challenge of Michelle Bridge’s 12WBT (ps, no payment has exchanged hands for that plug. Although I wouldn’t say no, Mich!!).
Twelve weeks to transform his body. Which makes me feel like in 3 months time a screaming monster is going to come bursting through his chest, but that’s because he makes me watch too many sci-fi movies.
I’m not so fussed if Dr Dazz drops the kg’s. He’s aiming for 10 kilos off, and to get the six pack he’s always promised me. Like Brad Pitt, he says. I’m pretty certain even Brad Pitt doesn’t have Brad Pitt’s abs anymore, but that’s unimportant. What matters is that my bloke starts to feel good about himself again. That he’s happy with the way he presents himself to the world.
The tricky thing is, how we feel about ourselves is so stupidly, annoyingly, intangible. It changes like the weather. One day we’re gloriously sunny, and we think we’re the hottest thing to walk the planet.
The next we’re all thunder and doom and wondering if we in fact did inspire the writing of The Gruffalo. (Who hasn’t had a pimple that could have been a poisonous wart on the end of their nose?). If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then as beholders we are seriously flawed.
So when it comes to the issue of losing (or gaining) weight, to be your optimum size, HOW THE HELL CAN YOU TELL WHAT THAT IS???
There was a whole load of hoo haa in the US last month over the winner of their Biggest Loser. Rachel Fredrickson was 118kgs. She’s now 48kgs. She’s lost 60% of her body weight.
Now that’s clearly a cuh-razy, shut-the-front-door, you CANNOT be SERIOUS, amount of weight loss. But if Rachel feels good like that, and her doctors and parents and friends and other people who have some kind of knowledge of what’s good for her believe she’s fine, then does it matter?
Obviously, there are BMI’s and BAI’s, and all that other BS, and OF COURSE eating disorders are extremely serious and tragic and I pray to God my daughter or anyone else I love never goes near one.
But what’s wrong with wanting to be lighter than a heavier you? In the same way it should be perfectly acceptable for you to say “that’s cool, I’d rather resemble a butter ball.” If that’s what works for you in making you feel good about yourself.
The problem is every body judges and forms opinions about what you should look like. And I don’t know if they have some kind of telepathic silent voice head invader (or just access to the media), but their voice ends up muddling up with your voice, and suddenly you can’t remember what weight does feel good for you. And then we stop enjoying chocolate cake quite as much, and that’s CRIMINAL!!!
I have a friend who solves this dilemma by never looking in the mirror. Ever. She avoids her reflection altogether. Even in an elevator. She hasn’t seen herself in full since her first daughter was born 5 years ago.
I have too many stray whiskers to adopt such a drastic strategy, but I love her philosophy. She says she lives on the inside. What a wonderfully freeing decision to make. As though she is a floating collection of spirit, intellect and heart in a physical world.
I often wonder what that would feel like. Not to recognise myself, for my body to be unfamiliar to me should I catch a glimpse of it in a shop window. I’m envious, but also I wonder, if simply by taking that stance, she has acknowledged her poor body image, and the absence of her own reflection must surely be a constant reminder of that. (Urgh. I just gave myself the bends from diving in too deep there.)
Regardless, she isn’t defining her happiness by something that is very difficult to control. So I think she wins.
As does my yoga teacher, (I say ‘my’, I went to that class once), who says “your body is perfect because it is your body”. I like that. It’s a mantra I’ve pulled out once or twice when my skinny jeans have crossed over into being medieval torture chambers.
In the meantime, I get to sit on my couch watching Michelle Bridges nail my hubby’s arse to the wall with some seriously intense online workouts. A view that is much better enjoyed with a packet of Doritos in my hands. Because that’s what makes me happy. On the inside.