Tuesday 16 January 2018

"You are going to be the same person on February 1 as you are today - and that's OK!"

Most of us have normal bodies but we still want to try self-loathing diets that are set up to fail

Most of us have normal bodies but we still want to try self-loathing diets that are set up to fail
Most of us have normal bodies but we still want to try self-loathing diets that are set up to fail
Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

A new year, a new me, blah blah...

 No sooner has the last of the Chocolate Kimberley been liberated from the tin, than the slew of virtuous self-improvement pronouncements follows.

"2017 is the year I'm going to get thinner, fitter and healthier," we declare, making a mental note to finish off the last of the mince pies before the weekend is over. "I'm going to quit smoking and drink less, in between learning a language, sorting out my finances and decluttering my home."

You know the drill - we all know the drill.

And while I get that you reeeally mean it this time, I'm going to stop eye-rolling long enough to save you a whole lot of money, time, effort and heartache.

It can be summed up in the following sentence and, if you like, you can read it in Dr Phil's booming voice for added effect. "YOU are going to be the same person on February 1 as you are today - and that's OK!"

Trust me when I tell you that, no matter what you fervently believe right now, you won't have changed your life, improved your mind, or Marie Kondo'd your house over the next few months. And that's completely fine because life is far too short to keep flagellating yourself over the ideals of perfection imposed on you by the self-improvement police.

We're an intelligent race, so it shouldn't be hard for us to grasp that, in order to thrive and profit, the multibillion euro diet and fitness industry relies on the fact that 95pc of diets end in failure. There are millions of people around the world making a living out of selling the dream/lie that we'll be better, stronger, more worthwhile people thanks to the products they're hawking.

As well as being fundamentally flawed, it's a deeply sinister sales technique because to prime us to buy their products, these people have to ensure that we don't feel good enough in our own skin.

They need to encourage us to loathe our perceived flaws so much that we'll hanker after the ideal of perfection they're pedalling, even though it doesn't actually exist.

The heartbreaking part is that if we don't succeed, which is almost a given, we will loathe ourselves even more.

And self-loathing is the key issue we really need to address here. Unless your weight physically prohibits you from participating in normal life, the chances are that you're inhabiting a normal body that is doing a stupendous job of keeping you living and thriving.

Sure, some bits may be a bit squidgy or flabby, but if you were to ask a Victoria's Secret model about her physical imperfections, she would happily point them out. If you're not convinced and still want to trim 2in off your thighs in 2017, think of someone in your life who died young.

A friend who was killed on the road as a teenager, maybe, or someone claimed by cancer far too early. Imagine how this person would give everything they ever possessed to spend even one day more on this Earth enjoying all it has to offer, and then picture their bewilderment at you despising the healthy, working body you've been gifted just because it doesn't measure up to someone else's ideal.

Instead of embarking on a regime of self-deprivation this month, why not resolve to be kinder to yourself and nourish your soul and heart this year?

Put the money you were going to spend on the juices, gym gear and self-improvement books towards doing something that enhances your levels of happiness.

Book a weekend away to visit an old friend or introduce a regular date night with your partner.

Read books, do some volunteer work, snuggle up to your dog and engage your mind with things that stimulate you.

Unless you're in training for Tokyo 2020, there is probably no need for you to be bench-pressing in a sweaty gym at 6am and eating protein for breakfast.

Go for a good walk in the fresh air after work instead and breathe in the sweet sights and sounds of nature.

Above all, make 2017 the year you opted out of punishing yourself for not measuring up to someone else's standards, and started embracing the fact that you're perfect just as you are.

Sunday Independent

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