Same but Different
I’m not exactly sure why but for some reason, lately I’ve experienced something of a shift in consciousness. And awareness. Again. And yes, I know that might sound a little weird and new-age(y) but it’s just how I’m feeling right now. My reality. Sometimes it seems like I’m looking at old things in new ways and although things are kind-of the same, for me at the moment, they’re also kind-of different. Don’t know where the shift has come from but I’m just going with it.
Have you experienced something similar?
Do you ever find yourself having a particular conversation or doing a certain thing and right there in the middle of that experience you wonder why on earth you’re doing it? Like, what’s the point of this again? In a second, the thing you’re in the middle of shifts from important and serious to… “why does this matter and why are we talking about this?”
I have had a few of those moments lately.
The other day I was having a very familiar conversation with someone (similar to thousands of other conversations I’ve had over the years), and in the middle of our not-particularly exciting or important dialogue, I kind of lost interest. Actually, I totally lost interest. And not because I didn’t care about the person but because I didn’t really care about the conversation we were having. Which was, to be honest, somewhat pointless, superficial, self-indulgent crap, which (in my experience) rarely leads to anything significant or positive. For anyone. And coming from a man whose existence was once largely pointless, selfish and superficial, this is quite the acknowledgment. Twenty-two thousand kids die in poverty every day and I’m consoling someone who’s hysterical about gaining a kilo. Good grief.
So there’s this thing called perspective…..
A Moral and Professional Dilemma
As a bloke who owns a gym and is always talking to people about their bodies, I am faced with a constant dilemma: how do I provide people with relevant information, support and encouragement (towards physical health, fitness and function) without perpetuating, re-enforcing or (even) creating unhealthy thinking, behaviours and habits in relation to their bodies? Want it or not, like it or not, the “you are your body” message is an ever-present one in 2013 and as such, many people have their emotional state, identity and self-esteem tied in to, if not, totally determined by, all things physical. On many levels, the prevailing message is…
…appearance matters most.
And what an unhealthy, anxiety-producing, dysfunctional paradigm that is to exist in. Not to mention, exhausting. Nonetheless, it’s where many of us live. It’s little wonder that eating disorders, cosmetic surgery, appetite suppressants (and the like), exercise addiction, anti-aging medicine and a terrifying collection of weird and wacky pills, powders, potions, products and procedures are now common choices and/or consequences.
The other day I read an article about an eight-year old girl battling anorexia who ‘learned’ how to eat by watching her body-obsessed mother. So while her friends are out running, climbing, laughing, playing and dressing up, this eight year-old is counting calories, doing sit-ups when nobody is watching and stressing about her appearance.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Turning the Car Around
Yes, it’s great to be in good shape physically and, of course, we all want to maximise what we have but this ex-bodybuilder and one-time insecure fat kid believes that too many of us are heading down a road of no return. It’s time to hit the brakes, to turn the car around and to start heading towards a new destination. A destination where our body is not ‘who we are’ but rather ‘where we live’. A destination where we value and appreciate the gift that is our body, without obsessing about it. A destination where we love our legs because they work, not because they’re skinny. I’m suggesting that it’s time to look past the abs, the biceps and the collagen-filled lips and to acknowledge where our body finishes and we start.
Think about that.
If you work in the fitness industry (and many of my subscribers do), I have an important message for you… you don’t work with bodies; you work with people who happen to live in bodies. Treat them accordingly. When you’re doing your job, you’re not talking to a hamstring, lung or body-fat percentage; you’re talking to a multi-dimensional (emotional, cerebral, spiritual) being who happens to currently reside in an organic home.
No matter how many pounds we lose, compliments we receive or jean sizes we drop, it will never be enough because insecurity (which is a manifestation of fear and a driver of all these obsessions) is an insatiable, greedy bitch. Try though we might, it’s impossible to resolve emotional issues with physical solutions. And having been the insecure fat kid, the insecure skinny kid and eventually the insecure adult bodybuilder, I should know.
If what I’ve written today resonates, do something. Nodding your head is not enough. Knowing is not changing. Be courageous. Be honest. Be humble.