Recently, the news broke that America is no longer the fattest of the worlds “populous” nations, having been overtaken by our neighbors to the south, Mexico. I can only speculate if our uniquely American obsession with being Number 1 at everything will encourage us to reclaim the title shortly – we have all the advantages, not to mention a growing Latino population that could help us recover that top spot, sort of like how defectors from totalitarian states helped us make gains in the Olympics through the 70s & 80s…. or something (too soon?). [Don’t worry too much though, we are still tops in lots of other awesome categories like assault by rifle/shotgun/firearm, drunk neighbors, death by reptile (oooohh… Australia is gonna be mad about that one!), divorce, defense spending, as well as the highest incarceration rate & prison population, car thefts, soda & fast food consumption, teen pregnancy, lawyers, hours of television watched, plastic surgery, eating disorders (is this ironic?), school spending (this IS ironic), and every sort of personal debt…]
Anyhow, I have been thinking about this recently because I have been amazed at how much weight I was able to seamlessly gain on my return to the US… I am so grateful to be 5’10” so I can try to hide it, but still – dayum. And as one would expect, my response has been to attack my weightgain 4000 rather than just buy new clothes (which, if I did, would actually be smaller sizes than the clothes I have now that do not fit so well… bizarro.) So, it has been back to the gym and the yoga studio and eating… well, not better, because I eat really well (thanks a lot California) but eating less… which is not so fun when everything we seem to do here revolves around food and drink consumption somehow. I also have the luxury of an entire summer off so I can do this pretty easily. And I like to exercise, so win-win.
Except for one thing. It turns out that what you put in your body is a lot more important than the amount you exercise and that sucks because I would like it to work more like an energy exchange situation. Nope, that is no longer the case. It is possible that this has always been sort of true, but my mom told me a while back that after 40, it is totally true: what you eat is far more important that what you do with your body.
And man, is that one more annoying example of mother-correctness. Last week the LA Times finally got on board with this, too. Sigh.
In the end, I feel better when I exercise, and living in San Francisco, one of the nations most fit cities, I am also motivated to continue. My lifestyle also helps (I still have not replaced the car I sold when I went to Asia, so I walk everywhere) and I date a metabolic freak of nature, which is really inspiring when it is not filling me with rage watching him enjoy Ben & Jerry’s by the pint… And I am not freaked out by how I look (it is much more to do with the ill-fit of some of my nicest clothes…) but I am also not satisfied.
I am unsure if this lack of satisfaction is a good thing or not, it could be a motivating factor, or it could just be a prettier incarnation of body dysmorphia (which, by the way, seems to be something practically unavoidable to pick up if you put in time in Asia, as I did.) I do know that I keep seeing photos of myself and thinking, “Wow, that is not how I feel like I look,” and so I know I have some sort of disconnect going on. And then one of my former students posted a video from this Dove website, and I thought, “Huh. I wonder how I would describe myself…” And that was kind of weird.
How would you describe yourself? Does it match what people see? It might be a good exercise to just consider this moving forward. And while I know I will never fully embrace the body positive thing, because that is jut not my thing. I also know that, like most people, I am actually not paying that much attention to the physical details of other people – we tend to hyper-focus on ourselves, and I suppose my own little body positive effort might be to chill out about that. Maybe. For now, I am heading back to the gym for round two today.