On my last night of a 5-day summer holiday at Pine Echo Camp I was sitting round the fire with some old friends. One of our friends daughters, who’s maybe 4 years old, was going around offering everyone sweets: tarts, Swedish berries, Oreos. I was doing well at resisting temptation knowing I wanted to make myself a s’mores later on. By the time the marshmallows were offered around, I got the feeling that our friends felt offended that I rejected every kind offer (beverages and sweets) they gave me.
They joked and said it’s not truly holidays unless you can unwind and enjoy the little things. I laughed and said I wasn’t looking forward to stepping back on the scale Monday morning. They laughed and one of our friends asked, “why, are you doing that scale thing?” I said, “well, I’m not on any specific diet, I just like to get on the scale to monitor where I’m at and make sure I don’t go too overboard.” They laughed again and nodded as to reassure my thinking. That’s when the conversation turned.
One of our friends began to tell a story of a co-worker of his who was so obsessed with weighing herself that it consumed everything about her; the way she ate, even her personality or mood for each day. He said this girl would weigh herself multiple times a day with a specific number in her head about what the scale should read. If she was over that number her mood would change and she would be miserable the rest of the day. He said that one of her friends had to go so far as to remove all the scales from her home in order to stop her obsessive behaviour. That’s when it sunk in that what I was doing wasn’t normal.
I always thought weighing yourself once a day was a practice everyone did. You get up in the morning, you go pee, then you get on the scale. You keep this routine consistent so you can track your weight at the same time every day with no fluids or foods in your system yet. I know I’m not alone in practicing this regime but hearing this story frightened me. That could be me. And in a way, it already is.
When I’m being “good,” I count my consumed calories, track my calories burned through exercise, and weigh myself daily. This is my way of keeping my weight under control. But tracking all the nitty gritty details has consumed my personality, to a point.
I feel guilty any time I enjoy a carb or splurge on ice cream. I keep telling myself that I’ve blown my “diet” and give up for that day. I put myself down for not being able to stick to a strict regime. I see all my imperfections in my reflection and rather than embrace them, they become my insecurities. I try my best to cover them up and not let the world see them.
It gets exhausting. Mentally and physically draining.
But what if I just stopped analyzing every little thing and just lived?
What if I ate what I wanted whenever I wanted to? What if I let myself splurge on ice cream? I probably wouldn’t splurge so often or so intensely because it’s not longer something I shouldn’t do, and instead, something I should feel free to do whenever I please.
What if instead of forcing myself to workout, I do something fun, entertaining, and maybe even social instead? What if instead of drilling out strides on the elliptical in a small room with the TV on, I joined community events and went for walks with my neighbours?
What if I focus on not overeating and getting the right nutrients every day? What if I aim to be healthy and to feel good instead of aiming to lose weight?
What if I let myself enjoy the little things instead of overreacting on the small things?
Coincidentally or not, as I drafted this post I saw a television commercial for Cheerios promoting a ‘world without dieting.’
Our latest initiative was driven by a realization – as much as people can try to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle and set a good example for their children, there’s a relentless external force that threatens all of those efforts.” – Amanda Hsueh, marketing director of cereal for General Mills Canada.
I think this will be the next health fad and marketing tactic for brands. And I don’t hate the idea.
There’s too many other, more important things, to focus your precious time and attention on. Life is too short to over analyze the little things. Life is too short to focus your energy on unhealthy regimes.
Enjoy each moment you get in life. Be healthy, and most importantly, happy. Be you and no one else. The natural you, not the you that society thinks you should be.