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The Tyranny of the Scale


We are told by our doctors, nutritionists, celebrities and talk show hosts that in order for us to be happy and healthy, we have to be thin. There is a certain weight range that we are supposed to be in for our height and bone density, and that is that. If we don’t fall in that range, then we are unhealthy, fat and need to start exercising and dieting right away.

We watch “The Biggest Loser” on television and get inspired by fat people who take three months out of their lives in order to work out strenuously six hours or more a day, eat a carefully supervised diet and compete in challenges in order to ratchet up the drama. We get involved in their stories and wonder why we can’t lose the measly ten pounds we need “to get healthy.”

As someone who has undergone a fairly significant weight loss (and is continuing to do so), I can tell you that there is nothing easy or complicated about it. Not all of us can check out of our lives and onto a ranch where world-class trainers can supervise us on a program that not only teaches us to live healthier lives but also to discover what prompted the weight gain in the first place and deal with those issues. Most of us have to do it on our own.

Still, there is a question that nobody ever asks about the whole process. Is the stress of counting calories and going to the gym worth the extra 20 or 30 pounds that we could take off of our bodies? Most doctors and fitness trainers would say that it is.

Can we trust these people, who have a vested interest in keeping us concerned about our weight and overall health, to give us objective opinions about it though? Sure, Jillian Michaels can go on television and preach about good exercise and keeping healthy, but isn’t that how she makes a living? By being paid to teach people how to exercise and stay healthy? Nothing against Bob, Jillian or any other person who is trying to inspire you to get healthy, but I always take advice from people who are trying to sell a DVD, book or whatever with a grain of salt.

We have been taught that overweight is ugly, undesirable, unattractive. I’ve had beautiful women tell me how ugly they are because they are 15 pounds overweight and how nobody wants them. Does anybody besides me find that observe? Me, I like women with curves. I’m not fond of skinny arms and legs, flat tummies and hourglass waists. I can admire the work it took to achieve those features, but I think the work is better put in being happy with yourself. Just because you could afford to lose a few pounds doesn’t mean you’re ugly.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to improve yourself or that you should stop exercising and start eating whatever you want. Like everything in life, there is a balance to be struck. Obsessing on anything, even on good health, is unhealthy. We shouldn’t spend our entire lives denying ourselves in order to have a perfect body. One thing that is absolutely certain; your body will begin to degrade as you get older. Organs will fail. Boobs will droop. It is the nature of our existence that we cannot combat age and expect to win. Even the healthiest of older people cannot fight their own genetics. You can eat healthy and exercise regularly your entire life; if you’re genetically disposed towards strokes, aneurisms or heart conditions, you can still suffer any of those things. Keeping healthy will hold off a lot of issues but it won’t stop cancer.

It’s not a bad thing to have a slice of pizza once in awhile, or a piece of banana crème pie. You shouldn’t feel guilty for having an ice cream with your family, nor should you be alarmed if your weight goes up a pound or two because you’ve been slacking a bit. Moderation is the key to a good life. Balance the things you need to do with the things you want to do. Denying yourself the things you love is only going to make you psychotic.

There’s a fable I’ve heard about a young go-getter who always wanted to visit Europe. He had the opportunity to go on a study abroad program, but turned it down to work at home so that he could pay off his college loans. When he got married, his in-laws gave the happy couple airline tickets and hotel reservations but he cashed them in instead, choosing to put the money in the bank so that they could save for something better. A few years later, he won a trip in a contest but once again accepted the cash value instead and socked it in the bank. He wanted to go in style when he was older, preferring to spend his younger years building a career and putting as much away for retirement as he could.

A year before he was to have retired, he was driving home from work when he lost control of his car and crashed into a telephone pole. He was killed instantly. When he went to the pearly gates, he was angry. St. Peter asked him why. “I worked hard my entire life and all I wanted to do was visit Europe someday. I think it’s pretty rotten that God took me before I could go.” St. Peter pursed his lips and frowned, studying the folder that was the man’s life in front of him. Then he looked up, with a puzzled expression on his face. “I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean,” said the saint in a polite voice, “You were given several opportunities to go and you turned it down each time! We figured it wasn’t a priority for you.”

The moral is that we really don’t know how long we have on this earth, or what the future holds on it for us. Life is far too short to waste it fretting about every calorie we eat, or every moment we’re not in the gym. Our job is to seize every opportunity we can and make the most of it, because we may never get that opportunity again.

Our lives are meant to be enjoyed. 20 extra pounds aren’t going to seriously impair our ability to enjoy it, and 50 extra pounds isn’t going to make you ugly if you’re beautiful inside. If you feel unattractive and unwanted, I guarantee you there’s someone out there who finds you extremely attractive and wants you big time; they may just be too shy to tell you, or be too afraid of being rejected.

In that sense, romance is an opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted either. If someone expresses interest in you, look into it, even if you’re not feeling it initially yourself. You may find that someone you want to be “just a friend” is a better partner than someone who makes your heart beat faster but couldn’t be bothered to remember your birthday. Explore those opportunities because you never know where they might lead.

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One Response

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