Curvy is good, thin is good. Obese and anorexic, not so good. What do you think?
This isn't simple. People are hurting here. We're at war with our selves and each other. Our doctors, our friends, our advertising, and our own thoughts are hitting us from every corner. This is important, we need to set this right.
We know if we're too underweight, we're killing ourselves. We know the same if we're too overweight. And in the middle, we're fighting. It's now normal to be overweight -- each day dragged down by our health, how we feel, and even how we feel about our health. And if we're not obese ourselves, we have friends close to us who are. Is it our metabolism? Our genetics? Our genetics haven't changed as Americans in the last 30 years, that's not how evolution works (I remember a few things from looking at snails with Dr. Stephen J. Gould at the Museum of Comparative Zoology many years ago; will save you from those stories). But as Americans we're getting much bigger. Is that ok? It doesn't seem like it. We're good at fixing broken bones and fighting infections, but health is getting worse. We may be living longer, but we're in a lot of emotional and physical pain. We're in dis-ease. What has changed is our food, how we eat. It's killing a lot of us in our bodies. For even more of us, it's killing us in our minds.
What is "too fat" for me? Who gets to say? We're getting fatter, so is too fat today different from too fat 30 years ago? Forgetting what other people think, let's look just inside. If I'm tired, sick, or purely sad about my body, but nothing seems to change it, what do I do? Does the life I want come from me now, or from some other place? Do I believe in my ability to create the life I want, or has that belief been proven wrong by my experience? Have I lost faith in my self?
If I feel disempowered, if I don't believe in myself, in my ability to be healthy, we have a much bigger problem. When I give up, and retreat behind thoughts like
I'm not my body
Every body is great, no matter how big
Are these things true? Well, we know that we are our bodies. Our bodies, minds, and spirits don't simply reflect each other: they're all the same thing. We're just one whole connected holistic being. So what do we do? How do we move from dis-ease to ease? How do we go from battling on the outside, because our inside battles have proven insurmountable?
Who you are is perfect. There's nothing wrong with you. There's everything right with you.
I make a big fuss about yoga not being about poses. That "How" we are is more important here than "What" we are. When we drop the struggle, the forcefulness of pushing to be somewhere other than where we are, in some picture that's not what we are... we find ease right here, in who we are right now. We connect. We get intuitive and creative. We get powerful.
In the same way, health isn't about looking or being like someone else. It's about you connecting to you. About us hearing, understanding, and responding to ourselves. We discover we have far more power than we ever imagined. It's been clouded, sometimes. And when it's cloudy, ad campaigns -- whether they're on TV, in our office, or in our thoughts -- can get pretty loud. They drive anxiety, fear, lack of confidence in our ability to be the best director of our own lives. We tune out. But our power is still there.
Everything we need to be healthy and happy is right here, inside us. It's not up to anyone else to tell me that I'm too big or too small. Of course there will be helpful and not so helpful friends along the way. But that listening power is all mine. If I'm listening, I know if I'm hiding behind a loss of faith in myself -- that has me saying "I'm not my body" or "My body at any size is exactly as it should be, is exactly me." I know if I'm tuning out because tuning in has hurt too much. I also know when what I am really is exactly me; I know what "exactly me" feels like. Do I feel healthy? What life do I want to create?
For many of us, we don't feel healthy, we feel sick. So we turn off feeling. For many of us, we don't believe we can create, so we turn off creating. We know really well the destructive avalanche that comes from turning off. Switch it back on. We can do it. We can get to know just as well the creative life that comes from tuning in.
It's not about a doctor, a friend, or a company telling us what we can or should be. When we're not creating, those things can all be pretty noisy. When we are creating, the noise dissolves; our own signal is our greatest and most natural guide. We know what to eat. We know how to live. Suddenly, inevitably, we're happy. We're who we are. Nothing takes away from that. When I'm me, and you're you, and we're creating what we want... no ad campaign in the world can touch us. We just feel good. We create the life we want, because we can.