Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Self love vs. health

I know I have already covered this topic, but a post on Faith, Fitness, Fun made me want to revisit it.  Tina wrote about a radio host who talked about accepting his weight:

Then, he said he adopted that mindset, realized being overweight is “just who he is” and never bothered worrying about his weight anymore. He almost seemed proud that he was still overweight and accepted that part of himself. And I’m not so sure how I feel about that.
You know I’m all for self-love. But I still think part of loving ourselves comes with the responsibility of caring for our bodies. Love yourself where you are, but also love yourself enough to treat your body with respect – which includes fueling it properly and helping it get stronger with some form of activity.
I would much rather someone see his or her worth and value and be overweight, than be healthy physically but depressed and full of self-loathing. I think mental and emotional wellness plays a hugely significant role in health. However, I don’t like the idea of accepting oneself but not having any desire to treat the body right.
 I'm pretty sure that her middle paragraph is right on, that self-love does mean, in part, taking care of the self. There seems to be a false assumption (by both the radio host and Tina) that loving ourselves as we are means that we don't ever try to do anything to improve our health.

It's the total opposite, I think. I love my cats. One was getting very thin, and I was concerned about him and was trying to get his weight up by tempting him with foods he liked and making sure he was healthy.  The other was slightly overweight. I loved her too and decided to play with her a little more to give her a little more exercise.  I didn't stop loving either one as they were just because I wanted to nudge them toward health. I didn't starve the overweight cat or force-feed the skinny one.  (Now the skinny one is at a healthy weight and the overweight one has developed a thyroid problem and seems to be getting too thin. I'm taking her to the vet today for a recheck).

I have a harder time translating this for myself. I have to admit that there is a part of me that thinks self-acceptance will mean getting lazy and gaining weight and that I need to whip myself into shape. I know, deep down, though, that this approach doesn't work. Why would it?  Being mean to myself hasn't made me thin in the last 40 years of my life, so why should it start working now?

I think there is a false assumption by thin people that overweight people get fat because they are not interested in health or are too self-accepting. Most overweight people I know seem to be hyper-aware of weight, and are just as likely to be trying self-defeating things to lose weight (like crazy extreme diets or magic beans) as they are to be wallowing in denial and Cheetos.

I think I will achieve a healthy weight when I truly learn to accept myself and love myself and use that love to motivate healthy behavior.  I can tell you that I'm not quite there yet, but it's not because I love myself too much.

1 comment:

  1. I love your take on this...self-acceptance is so misunderstood! I went to the post you referenced and left this comment:

    Over two years ago I set out on a quest to see if I could “self-love” myself to health and weight loss. Up until that point, I had struggled with weight and self-loathing issues pretty much my entire life.

    This came after a 55-pound weight loss (2005-2006) and then regaining half that weight (2007-2009).

    Turns out, I could. Not only did I lose some of the weight I regained, but my health is a lot better than it was at my lowest weight. I am now off all prescription meds for and my numbers are all excellent.

    Here’s my take on it: when you truly love and accept yourself you want to do the right things for yourself. It takes time and trial and error, but you don’t give up and you don’t devolve into the cycle of binge/beat yourself up/diet/obsess/binge/beat yourself up and so on. It doesn’t mean you have a perfect body, weigh a certain amount, wear a certain size, or that you have perfect habits. What it means is that you accept yourself in the moment and that you catch yourself sooner. And all of this adds up to a healthy body at its natural weight. Your natural weight might not be what is considered “acceptable” by current societal norms but then again, current society norms are skewed!!


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07