Compassion (noun): aÂ feelingÂ ofÂ deepÂ sympathyÂ andÂ sorrowÂ forÂ another who is strickenÂ byÂ misfortune,Â accompaniedÂ byÂ aÂ strongÂ desireÂ to alleviate the suffering.
We have so many reasons to begin or keep up with an exercise program. Then we are convinced that our exercise efforts will not work unless we eat well.
Reasons differ for many people, but usually fall somewhere between wanting to fit into a former size and wanting to look good for bikini season.
As superficial as they sound when writing them down, those reasons are valid.
But they don’t always stick.
They are easily brushed off and set aside.
You can always wear a cover-up at the beach or just buy bigger sizes next time you shop. Just cut out the tags and forget the size exists.
Body image will always toy with your head no matter how skinny, lean, fluffy, obese, pear or apple shaped you are. It’s an unavoidable part of your life.
So, why do you put so much focus on it? Sure, you can blame mainstream media for shoving ideals down your throat. At the grocer line you see tabloid covers gleaning with embarrassing photos of cellulite-riddled celebrity legs and once-hunky beaus with beer guts.
That might be enough to convince you to put back the Snicker’s bar impulse-buy, but you will hang onto the Ben and Jerry’s pint just in case you have a bad day at the office.
If looks aren’t enough to push you toward better health, you usually wait for a ‘scare’.
It could be a lump in your breast.
Maybe you can’t walk up the stairs any longer without feeling winded and out of breath.
Your father had a heart attack.
Your mother was diagnosed.
Why does it take so long for you to realize what you’ve become?
Yesterday I read a blog post on Leigh Peele’s blog regarding ‘sizeism’.
It was a brilliant riposte to an article published in Marie Claire that allowed a journalist to blatantly express her disgust toward large people in media.
I’m sure if you took a snap shot of my face while reading this post my expression would appear nothing short of sober.
For all the external factors that come into play when discussing ‘why’ I choose the lifestyle that choose… deep down inside the internal factors eat away at my core.
I come from a family with a deep history of depression. Some cases so severe that my loved ones could or can no longer function in society.
I come from a family with a staggering history of heart disease. Both of my paternal grandparents died from it.
I watch my loved ones suffer from the symptoms caused by obesity.
I discuss with my parents issues like hypertension, weight gain, depression… cancer.
I think nothing is more sobering than watching a vibrant carefree loved one suddenly wither away within months of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Listening to her laughter at a birthday party one month and the next listening to her final breaths in a hospice.
I’ve talked with friends who live in fear because they are the only women in their family who haven’t been diagnosed with cancer. They wait idly for their turn with chemo.
I know breast cancer survivors in their twenties and thirties… They live knowing they can never have Â children of their own.
…It’s not about the size of your clothes or how you see yourself in the mirror.
It’s about what goes on inside of your body.
If anything should drive you toward greater health and wellness, let it be disease prevention.
So many of us are genetically predisposed to disease.
I know I am.
I know my children are.
The last thing I ever want is for my children to lie next to me in a hospital bed.
I know I can’t predict the future and I can’t prevent the inevitable.
But I can make choices that will improve my life and perhaps keep me spinning in the fields and dancing on Friday nights with those I cherish most.
Forget the scale and the clothes and how ugly, fat, disgusting, disliked you feel for a moment.
Take a look at yourself and think about the most elemental part of you… your cells.
Though the scale may seem stuck at a disagreeable number, or your squat may not budge another 5 pounds, your cells change every single day.
They multiply, grow, shrink, become clogged with muck, lose electrical charge… die off.
They are the very essence of your being, the reason you exist the way you do.
Each one serving its own purpose in your life.
Each one fighting free radicals, pollution, poor nutrition, aging, microbes, and any other invader that makes its way into your system.
Eventually it becomes a one-sided battle.
But we often neglect to see ourselves as biological beings.
Until that scare…
Even then sometimes we don’t get it.
When my daughter was 2, I had a scare. My kidneys had become so toxic that they shut down. I was in and out of consciousness for 3 days, and all I remember is squinting across the bed at my little girl as she waiting for me to hold her.
I worked long hours. I starved myself due to stress. I did this long enough that no medical treatment or intervention worked and I came very close to renal failure.
Even then, I still didn’t get it.
I had a high-risk pregnancy with my son. He was completely fine, but my body couldn’t handle carrying him because I still wasn’t taking care of myself.
My kidneys were not healed from my previous illness. I ate a poor diet.
I was in and out of the hospital with preterm labor for months and on bed rest for the latter part of my pregancy.
Eventually my body had enough and my son was born 1 month early. He lay in an incubator in the NICU because I didn’t get it.
Thankfully, now I do. It took years of stubborn internal battles, but I finally get it.
In Leigh’s post she ended on a note of compassion. Acting with compassion as a trainer or nutritionist. Acting with compassion for those around you and those you love. Acting with compassion for yourself.
When it comes to your health and the health of those around you, let your heart guide you instead of your ego.
Act with a little more self-compassion.
Own up to the fact that you are responsible for your own self-esteem, self-worth, and most importantly self-awareness, then act upon this ownership.
Nourish your body inside and out. Understand your own guilt, remorsefulness, and sorrow when it comes to your struggles with body image, weight, or perhaps ailing of your loved ones.
Know that you may never meet your ‘ideal’ weight or fit into your ideal ‘size’.
Tuck that away for a while and focus on your future. How do you want to live in 10, 20, 50 years from now?
I personally would like to see you on a Smucker’s jam label on the Today show celebrating your 102nd birthday.
If you take anything away from this post, remember that it is far Â easier to act with compassion than live with regret.