No Body’s Perfect

2 Aug

A few weeks ago, I saw this photo of several supermodels that didn’t have the benefit of photoshop, and I immediately thought to myself: If even they need photoshop, then what further proof do we need that a ‘perfect’ body is nothing more than an illusion? Unfortunately this illusion is not only ubiquitous, but it‘s also pernicious: The message it propagates is that beauty comes only in one shape: ultra-thin. As a result, an estimated 8 million people (about 7 million of whom are female) struggle with eating disorders at any given time. This issue hits close to home for me personally, because my younger sister struggled with anorexia and bulimia as a teen. To the rest of us, she looked emaciated and gaunt. But no matter how much weight she lost, she considered herself to be too fat.

I’d like to propose a paradigm shift: Instead of exercising in order to live up to some impossible standard of airbrushed perfection, exercise in order to feel your best and function better in your day-to-day activities. The same applies to eating: The next time you feel tempted to indulge in something unhealthy, don’t think in terms of what will happen to your midsection or your hips; think instead about how your body will feel afterwards. This approach worked very well for me recently when I was out for dinner with my wife and in-laws. I was having a craving for a perennial weakness of mine, fish & chips. But the more I thought about it, the more I remembered how my body responds whenever I eat large quantities of fried food: My stomach feels bloated and uncomfortable, and I feel sluggish for hours after the fact. With this in mind, I was able to make a healthier choice and get a salmon salad instead. I felt pleasantly full and perfectly satisfied afterwards, and was happier with the choice I made than I would have been had I given in to my craving.


4 Responses to “No Body’s Perfect”

  1. Amy Foss LeBlanc August 3, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Amazing! Hoping for mass awareness, eating and exercising for your body not your mind. The mind can play tricks on you and can be easily deceived but your body speaks the truth….if we only listen. Every body has something to say, take notice of your wonderful self and breath.

    • andysullivanmindandbody August 3, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

      Indeed. Consciousness of what your body is telling you is a very important lesson I try to impart to people. Well said, Amy!

  2. Caroline Poser September 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    1) Too bad we rarely see un-PhotoShopped pictures. It totally distorts reality. There are certain catalogs I won’t even look at because the people look so fake. In some cases, I think the bodies are someone else’s and they put the supermodel’s face on.
    2) I agree about approaching food as “fuel.” If I am really mindful of what I am eating, I realize I need far less than I might otherwise consume.
    3) Exercise for its own sake can be so boring! I am glad I have a dog that needs walking. It’s easy to get my 10,000 steps a day.

    • Andy Sullivan Mind and Body December 4, 2012 at 2:54 am #

      I’m glad you have a dog who needs walking too. To be sure, finding a form of exercise you enjoy is a major key to adherence. I also think mindfulness about eatin g is necessary because food in this country is plentiful, cheap, and all too often loaded with all sorts of nefarious ingredients.

      I know what you mean about the models in the catalogs. Not only do they look fake, but as a guy I can tell you that they don’t even look all that appealing — at least not to me, anyway.

      Thanks for your input, Caroline! Glad you enjoyed my blog!

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