A few weeks ago, I tore through Harriet Brown’s book,
“Body of Truth,” How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession With Weight, and What We Can Do About It.
Ever since I was a teenager, I have suspected that unrealistic, even unhealthy, weight ideals fostered by Western culture and driven by markets and media are promoting behaviors that make us fatter. The overwhelming desire to reduce body weight and size seems to trigger physiological and emotional changes that drive fat storage and limit happy productive movement.
As a Certified Personal Trainer and sugar reduction advocate, my personal curiosity has changed to a professional obligation as I try to understand why traditional diet and exercise seem to be backfiring on so many women and men who are simply seeking a body they feel at home and at peace in.
Here is my theory. If the media proclaims that a normal, healthy body is too fat, many individuals will go on diets that actually promote more fat storage, and they will be worse off that they would have been if they had never dieted at all.
I thought I was unique in the fact that my pediatrician put me on a calorie counting regimen when I was just eight years old. It turns out that according to Harriet Brown’s research the average age of a first diet for girls is eight. Average.
The earliness of my first diet may not have been unique, but “Body of Truth” does argue that my experience of permanent fat loss may be. This is the current reality for me and many of my readers and clients: many of us have lost more than 30, 50, 70 pounds and beyond, and kept it off for years. In her book, Brown quotes psychologist Deb Burgard,
“People who have maintained a weight loss, who eat flexibly, who are truly at peace with food- they’re like unicorns.”
Deb Burgard’s quote is an accurate description of the way I have felt since 2008 when I turned everything I was doing in terms of eating and exercise upside down. Now, at just shy of age 51 I feel more empowered, more joyful, energetic, and yes, beautiful than I have ever felt in my life. Am I more beautiful than I was at 18, or 27, or on my wedding day? Probably not not, but who cares.
I am living in a body that allows me to fulfill my dreams of love, work, and creativity. Am I skinny?
Is any part of my body flat?
So what. I feel healthy, energetic, authentic, and powerful. I have the enormous honor of doing work that I believe in. When I walk in the door of Gordon Studio, put on the music, turn to my class, and say,
“You know what I want.” (That means the best form and technique my students can give me.)
I feel excitement, purpose, and a kind of wild joy.
I feel magic.
We are unicorns.
The method for becoming a unicorn is this: Eat the food that nourishes and satisfies your, without triggering overeating. Practice move meant that challenges, excites, and even exhilarates you without pain. Rest, recover, and connect how you eat and move to what you want to give and achieve in your life. Want health and self acceptance for everyone else as much as you want it for yourself.