In the modern age, we need to excel at all costs. Being happy comes with requirements, the foremost being that we are a “success.” So what does being successful by societal standards mean, and how does this affect our health? Small, everyday wins and achievements don’t count. True success is reaching the top of the mountain and looking down on everyone that we have met, done business with, learned from, lived with, and even loved as a competitor that we have vanquished. We strive for perfection that is not, has never been, and will never be possible- but we strive anyway.
We relate to our health and our bodies in this way too. A healthy body can jump, dance, breathe, rest, and explore without hindrance, it heals itself of illnesses, it functions like a high processing bio-computer, responding to stimuli organically, each internal system working in harmony with the others to create vitality. But thanks to the nature of competition bred into modern society, we strive exclusively for optimal aesthetic health. We ignore the biochemical wonders and small successes of our bodies’ most independent operations- actually, we often interrupt those vital processes with our desperate attempts to ‘get fit.’ Somehow, “health” has become synonymous with a size 0 waist or maxing out a bench press at the gym, and losing or gaining weight to achieve a look is the ultimate goal.
Remember what I said about our bodies functioning as infinitely intelligent bio-computers? This means they are never wrong, but they are communicative. If your goal is to be swimsuit ready for the summer, and your methods for achieving this include never taking a rest day, overdoing cardio, cutting carbs, and drinking 3 lattes a day to keep yourself going, your body WILL communicate with you. That communication will look like hormone dysfunction, irregular sleep or insomnia, stress, and slowing of metabolic function as your body works to protect the very fat that you’re trying to get rid of. Odds are you won’t achieve the results you want, and if you do, you won’t be able to sustain them. This is ultimately why every fad diet and exercise craze seems to come with an expiration date. We aren’t meant to kill ourselves over our health.
The Silver Lining
We can TRUST our bodies. By turning the societal model of success and perfection on it’s head, we give ourselves room to breathe, and our bodies get the chance to heal themselves without any interference. I know this sounds overly simplistic, but overcomplicating things doesn’t seem to be working, does it? Ask yourself how you can slow down and soothe. Focus on listening to what your body is communicating with you- do you really need that extra HIIT class? Would taking a walk with a friend fill you up in a way that HIIT can’t? Is the sugary energy drink you reach for everyday really necessary? If it is, what is the underlying message from your body? Do you actually just need more sleep, more water, more time spent outside in fresh air? Do you really need to be down a dress size before you can go to that event? Ask yourself why the number on the tag is so important. Are six pack abs going to be the cure for your slump at work or in relationships? The answer to this question is found internally, not at the gym- it’s NO.
To be successful in your body doesn’t mean that you are finally “better” than everyone else. The perfect physical form won’t guarantee happiness. BUT finding happiness and peace in your body as it is right now only encourages you to invest in your health in sustainable, vital ways. The happiest, most peaceful people are the most beautiful, not the other way around.
September 14, 2021