“Healthy” is not a look.
This morning, I took my dog Harvie for a run/walk… beautiful day, awesome little jaunt. The sun was shining and surprisingly the Atlanta heat hadn’t gotten unbearable yet, even though it was past 8 am (that’s crazy for July). We ran to the park, said hello to many people and puppies along the way. We ended up walking a lot of the way home from the park and I noticed some beautiful flowers in the gardens of the homes around my neighborhood… it rained last night so there were still little drops of rain on their petals – I love that. Not every run is like this for me – blissful and just full of simple joy. But today, it was, and it got even better.
At the very end of our run/walk, for some reason I noticed my thighs moving together and looked down to watch them jiggle. There was a point in my life that this site would have triggered harsh, critical, self-deprecating thoughts, like, “Gross” or “Your thighs shouldn’t jiggle like that…. Fix it.” It would have probably made me want to try to control or decrease the thigh jiggle.
But at this point, and as recent as this morning, my thoughts were actually lovely following the noticing and acknowledging of my thigh jiggle/rub (kind of like a thigh dance?). I like it. In fact, I felt a wonderful sense of freedom. Sound weird? Maybe counter-intuitive? Well yes, I guess if you consider how much society’s messages basically tell us that our bodies are supposed to look a certain way to be “healthy.”
Much of the fitness and diet industry feed people’s deepest insecurities and deliver the messages that if they just change their bodies, and (usually for women) if they just got smaller (which really doesn’t make much sense to me, because women are meant to have fat on their bodies so that we can conceive and carry healthy babies), or if they just ate “cleaner” or ate less carbs, their lives would be better and they will be happy (which is complete bullshit).
I know this is bullshit because there was a time in my life when my thighs didn’t touch at all, let alone jiggle. And guess what? I have never been so miserable and so disconnected from my true self in my life. And in the way that most disordered eating goes, it’s never usually about the food, or the body. It’s about trying to gain control over something because it’s hard to deal with what’s actually going on (whatever may be causing undesirable feelings — anxiety, sadness, darkness, grief). It’s not until we learn how to deal and cope healthfully (and really feel all of those things that will come and go because we are human) that we really start living.
Unfortunately, our society tells us that if we just take control, if we just have more willpower over our “health” and our bodies, then we will be happy and loved. Well, it’s a lie. So, if you are one that believes that, I kindly invite you to become skeptical about it and ask what really fills you up. Chances are it’s not how much you weigh today or if you can eat less carbs today. Seriously, what a complete and tragic waste of mental space.
Remember – fitness & diet INDUSTRY. Industry = business. Business = money. It’s a challenge everyday to not buy into all the disordered messages out there about what “healthy” means or looks like. Just yesterday, I took a yoga class where the teacher said something about sweating out Fourth of July indulgences. While the comment made me cringe, I reminded myself she is where she is on her journey, and that’s OK – but, “indulging” should not be motivation to move our bodies, as if we are doing something wrong by enjoying one of life’s many pleasures, and then punishing ourselves later. And it should definitely not be why we do yoga!
The thing is – I have learned (and continue to learn more) that true health is a feeling, a state of being. While it’s important to take care of our bodies, health is much more than just the physical, much more than how we look. … much more than food and exercise. And it’s certainly not about how much (or if) one’s thighs jiggle when they run. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think someone is unhealthy if their thighs don’t jiggle. Simply, put, God didn’t give me chicken legs! And I smile with freedom at my thigh dance, because to me, in my body, it symbolizes femininity, nourishment, pleasure, wholeness, release of false control, and acceptance of my body’s God-given blueprint.
You can never tell what someone is going through emotionally/mentally/spiritually by looking at them. They could appear in perfect health and need a lot of help on the inside, or visa versa. When we start to fill ourselves from the inside with soul-nourishing experiences and practices (this looks different for all of us and something I am still figuring out), and embrace all parts of ourselves, we can help others to learn to do the same and break free from limiting, life-sucking beliefs. Thanks for reading — I hope that, wherever you happen to be on your life’s journey, that you remember “healthy” is not one-size-fits-all, and again — it is not a look.
And if you need help and/or support in healing food and body issues, know it’s not a battle you have to fight alone. Send me a message or visit nationaleatingdisorders.org.
With love and light,