Feeling unsatisfied has its place in the world. It is useful because it is a motivator to work harder, be better, etc. But the constant feeling of inadequacy or general feeling of unhappiness is not only not useful, it is harmful to our well-being. I am writing this piece because of a scary trend I’ve noticed, and you may also be aware of. You may be actually be doing this at this very moment, and I am here to urge you to quit it, right now!
Before I tell you what it is, I have to give credit where credit is due. I listen to Wake Up With Taylor every morning on my way to work – it is a radio show on Sirius XM radio that covers all sorts of pop culture topics, and its lead host, Taylor Strecker (@taylorstrecker) is amazing. Anyway, Taylor started this series called Brains over Bodies, and it has had such an impact on me. I can’t stop thinking about it. She talks about the way we women obsess about our bodies and how that unhealthy obsession is keeping us from truly being happy. How many girls do you know that don’t want to go shopping for new clothes or go to the beach until they lose more weight? I know a ton! They go years restricting themselves from shopping for new clothes, or enjoying some amazing pasta or dessert at a nice restaurant, because they are so unhappy with the way they look or just plain scared of gaining weight.
Here’s an example of my own neurotic behavior. A few weeks ago – we bought a new treadmill. This thing is fancy and new and of course I immediately pledged to start running every morning. I felt great, and I was eating really clean because I thought, if I am working out, I need to be fueling my body with great food. After two weeks of running/eating healthy, I noticed I actually gained three pounds. My hair/skin/face looked really healthy and better than ever, and my energy levels had never been higher, BUT, I couldn’t get over the fact that I actually gained weight after working so hard to be SO good. Three pounds is a lot for me, my weight has really only fluctuated five pounds for the past ten years (except when I was pregnant).
I complained to my husband about it, and actually told him that I am going to stop working out because, you know, what is the point if I am just going to gain weight. He asked me how I felt the days when I worked out, and I answered I felt amazing, and he then asked – so whats more important, gaining three pounds or feeling amazing? I actually had to consider the answer for a bit – when boom – it hit me- I realized how ridiculous it would be to answer the question any other way than ‘feeling amazing, duh!’
So I wanted to share this with all of you because I want to spread the word about the brains over body idea, where we take back our lives by learning to accept ourselves for who we are (no more wishful thinking about who we will be when we lose that 10 pounds…) and start dressing and feeling amazing like we should! We should all be grateful for what we have instead of constantly comparing ourselves to the images we see in media – which we all know are airbrushed and photoshopped to perfection. Also, we just need to snap back in to reality – be aware of how you look, don’t be in denial about it. Like if you gained 20 pounds since college ( which was more than five years ago), but you keep holding on to those pre-weight-gain jeans thinking one day they will fit again – toss em! Work with what you’ve got right now, and make adjustments if you lose or gain weight later. I know some people might think I have no right talking about weight issues because I would be considered skinny to most people- but I think everything is relative and my reality is different than someone else’s reality. My five pound fluctuation might be like someones fifty pound fluctuation. The point is – something that we can actually very easily change, is our mindset. We can all instantly be more confident and happy just by acting confident and happy. I know because I’ve seen this possible first hand – it is very common in other cultures like in South Asia and the Middle East where women are more covered up in general, so there is less pressure to be extremely thin. This would also go for the extreme opposite pressure to gain weight like in that VICE episode in Mauritania. After all, if we were all a bit happier and healthier, we would have much more time (and more fun) doing what really matters…like shopping! Have a great weekend everyone! Xx Zahra