I know. It doesn’t feel like it.
With a landslide of anger and negativity (yes, it’s an election year and we’ve ONLY just begun); with TV shows that make millions from the ugliest sides of humanity feeding off envy, vanity, competitiveness, and ire; there’s this overwhelming feeling of discontent … everywhere.
Enter social media.
A World of Perfect Lives (Lies). Perfect Relationships. And the perfect way to compare ourselves to thousands of strangers – friends of friends of friends – and it’s pretty easy to get lost in what’s real and what’s made up. We’re followers and likers and re-tweeters. We strive to be influencers. Because today the world is telling us that if we don’t have a public voice, we don’t matter. More is better. If we’re not more-liked, more-followed, more re-tweeted, we’re obsolete.
I see this with clients all the time. They come in with magazine pictures and “ideals”. They talk about friends who have lost weight and fit into those skinny jeans. They believe numbers define them (sizes, numbers on a scale, a BMI). As a dietitian and personal trainer, I’m often saddened by how much people hate their bodies. As if being human-shaped were a terrible, terrible thing.
A colleague and personal trainer, Andrew Schaeffer, recently wrote a beautiful post, I Want Mr. Rogers For My Personal Trainer. The essence of the post is something I’ve been talking to clients for years about: We are enough.
We. Are. Enough.
And though the multi-billion-dollar fashion, beauty, and diet industries tell us otherwise, it’s true. It really is. By starting any new nutrition or exercise routine with this sense of wonder of what our bodies can do as they are; by sitting down and really assessing the essential, disregarding the noise of social media and falling into the comparison trap; by appreciating how truly miraculous our bodies are (our smiles, the wrinkles that show years of laughter, the c-section scars and stretch marks that show that life grew inside us) we will understand how beautiful we all are. At the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy (it is Valentine’s Day in two days, so perhaps you can give me a margin-of-cheese), I really believe the foundation of success is love. Love for what you do, love for who you’re with, love for who you are.
By tearing down those paper walls of comparison, we will learn to celebrate body and age diversity. Eventually, we might just begin to understand that we are enough. And this acceptance is essential to change negative relationships with food and exercise.
Last year, Mr. Rogers was re-introduced to younger generations. His kindness and integrity brought something retro to the table, something that, perhaps, many young people have been missing – authenticity, and a sense of calm. It’s uncommon to meet someone so absolutely okay with who they are. And okay with who they’re with. I feel like these kinds of individuals work on a different wave than others. They bring something fresh and vibrant to conversations. They’re fully present. They actually listen. They shift expectations of what it means to be human.
#KindnessIsTrending. (It is!) And the best place to start is with each one of us – our bodies, our health, and really celebrating the beautiful we are.
Happy Valentine’s Day.