Last night my car indicator alerted me that my tire pressure was low. I pulled into a gas station and went to fill the air in my tire. As I walked over to the pump to ask the attendant for change for the air machine, the car that was parked to get gas started to drive toward me. I was right in front of the car, but the guy driving the mustang didn’t see me and he kept driving toward me. Right before he hit me, he saw me and slammed on his brakes. He looked at me, with shock on his face, as he realized how close he came to hitting me. The gas attendant gasped as he saw what had happened and then the car sped off.
I breathed a sigh of relief and then asked the attendant for change. He said the air machine was out of order, so I cautiously drove home. When I got home, it occurred to me how close that car was to hitting me and I thought, “Ok, I am supposed to be here” and then I remembered how yesterday, before this happened, I was having a bad body image day. Yes, I work with women to help them realize they are more than their bodies, but I sometimes still have a hard day. Yesterday was one of those yucky days. I had bought a new pair of jeans. They looked ok in the dressing room but when I put them on yesterday, suddenly it seemed like my ass had grown two sizes. And I got really annoyed and cranky. I got stuck thinking about how I wanted my body to be different and how I felt uncomfortable with myself.
Then that car almost hit me. What if I had gotten really hurt last night, or worse? Would my last thoughts be that I didn’t feel ok because my butt looked too big? Would my last day have been wasted because I wasn’t in an accepting place with myself and I spent my day cranky because of my body?
How many days of your life have you spent worrying that you don’t look ok, that you need to change your body, that you’re not good enough? How many diets have you tried over the years to control your eating and get into your skinny jeans?
You are more than your body. I’m sure you know that on some level, but how much time are you spending worrying about your size or your shape?
When your body image defines you, it usually means your self-esteem and your happiness are tied to how you look. You measure your worth against what you eat (if I ate clean, I’m good, if I ate chocolate, I’m bad) and your fitness (if I went to the gym, I’m good, if I didn’t, I’m bad). Am I saying that it’s not important to be healthy and that you should just eat crap? No. Am I saying that it’s not important to move your body and be fit? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that when you eat and exercise with the end goal focused on how your body looks, instead of how you feel, the preoccupation with how your body looks can take over and then you don’t focus on the other things in your life.
In the end, what do want you written on your tombstone? “Here lies Jane, she got down to a size 6 and went to the gym 5 days a week”? You’re so much more than a number. Go enjoy and live your life, eat food and do things that nourish you, move your body because it feels good and keeps you strong to live your life. Your body is just a small part of who you are. Don’t give it so much attention that you miss the other moments in your life.