I have been fighting the battle of the bulge since before there was a bulge to fight. When I was younger and far thinner, I never looked in the mirror without perceiving myself as fat. I think I have literally starved and dieted myself into my current weight concerns.
Holidays are torment for people who struggle with self-image. Others around us can eat the house down and never gain more than a pound or two that their bodies seem to automatically sleep away. Then those genetically blessed thin people sit in judgment on anyone who is not as svelte as they happen to be.
Weight obsession in this country has become as much of a disease as obesity itself. Thinner people are treated differently and perceived as more superior human beings because of their body size, and considered more beautiful by society at large.
In her book, Faded Denim: Color Me Trapped, Melody Carlson says, “Instead of thanking God for my two strong legs that are able to run and jump and climb, I whined about my “thunder thighs” and “thick” ankles. Instead of rejoicing that I have two capable arms that can lift and carry and balance my body, I complained about the flab that hung beneath them. I have been totally and unbelievably ungrateful for everything. Like a completely spoiled brat, I took my healthy body for granted. I criticized it and despised it. With crystal clarity, I know that I do not deserve the good health that God has mysteriously blessed me with. Not only have I been unappreciative of my body and its amazing working parts, I tortured it by over-exercising, and I put my entire health at serious risk by starving myself. What on earth was wrong with me? As I watch these kids with their less-than-perfect bodies, I feel so thoroughly ashamed of myself. I mean, how could I have been so stupid and shallow and self-centered?”
This sentiment ought to hit home to a large portion of the population.
Instead of despising the numbers on the weight scale, or despairing of our less than perfect image in the mirror, we ought to take time out to be thankful for every working part of our bodies. Unfortunately, most people don’t express true appreciation for what they have until after it is gone.
I always loved to walk, swim, hike, and ride bikes. I took my mobility for granted. In criticizing in my mind what was wrong with the appearance of my body to others, I failed to recognize the miracle of a body that functioned so well and allowed me to do all that I enjoyed doing. In an instant, because of a fall on the stairs, all of that changed. A knee replacement later, what I can and can’t do has changed considerably.
For a holiday season in which we seem to celebrate everything with social gatherings that include food, it becomes especially difficult for people with real or perceived weight issues to maintain their weight or to participate without gaining weight and then feeling frustrated and depressed. I often avoid gatherings altogether because I have let myself be ruled by numbers on a scale or the size that I currently wear.
My goal for this season is to be thankful for the people in my life with which to celebrate, the good food we share in abundance, and for a strong body that is currently as healthy as it is.
My hope is that if I remove the stress and worry about dieting over the holidays, perhaps it won’t be as big of an issue as I have always seen it to be. The old stressful way of trying to stay on a diet and make it through the holidays has certainly failed from year to year. This year, I think I’ll just concentrate on being thankful for the healthy, amazing body that I have and see what happens!
Reach Judith Victoria Hensley at [email protected] or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.