Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Five Good Reasons to Lose Weight

Jamie Lee Curtis says, in an interview for Ladies Home Journal's July 2007 issue, that she regrets contributing to the focus on the obsession on people's bodies. "I perpetuated that," she said. "I feel badly that my early career was so focused on what I looked like and my body. I do regret the message I sent."

So if we throw out the need to maintain a perfect body for ornamental reasons, what reasons are there to lose weight?

1. Health. Yes, yes, we have all heard that one. So, if you have diabetes, that means you give up sugar. If you are a couch potato, you get up and start walking. If you smoke. Quit. But there needs to be a bigger motivator than health for those of us who overeat, because food is not just a bad habit, it is a need in itself or it is fulfilling other needs -- physical, emotional, spiritual, sensual. So what do you replace that comfort food with?

2. Love yourself. If you learn to love YOU, the importance of food will diminish. You will find the things you really wanted to be doing when you were eating. The first step to loving yourself is getting acquainted.

"Self, this is me."

"Me, this is self."

Can you sit down and write a list, without hesitation, of the things you love and hate? Or, maybe you are more like me, I can give you that list about the people I love -- but me, I just haven't taken time to think about me. What is my style? Who am I? Why do I eat? Why don't I put as much energy into taking care of me as I do everyone else?

In that same magazine, a photo spread and article about Princess Diana, made me realize that what a great example she is of a woman coming to know herself. We got to watch her go through several transformations, several bouts of self-flagellation and abuse, before she came to terms with the elegant, caring, mother/woman/humanitarian that was Diana. You can do this for yourself. Each day take care of yourself as you would take care of others -- with love, caring, concern, forgiveness, and most of all with consistent responsibility for this one life you've been given.

3. Body function. When you're eight years old you are as flexible as a rubber band. You are agile and have wonderful skin. You bounce back from skinned knees in minutes. Even at age 18, you're starting to lose some of that wonderful youthful function and by the time you've seen four or five decades, everything starts to give you trouble -- unless you've read the owner's manual and have taken care of this one body, the only model you will ever own.

A physical therapist taught me without saying a word the value of a well cared for body. She, in her thirties, performs a physically demanding job every day. She looks exquisite, healthy, thin, toned, tanned (its Florida after all) and most of all full of energy. She did not maintain her body in this manner so she could be beautiful -- being beautiful was one of the benefits -- a side benefit of healthy living. If she wanted to do her job well, she took care of herself. If she wanted to ride a bike, swim, tumble with her child, make love with her husband -- she needed a healthy body. She lives life fully. She's ready for anything.

In that same issue of LHJ, the advertisements for diets, Jenny Craig, clothes, hair products, makeup, all proclaim the same mantra of "beauty, do it for beauty." I was never that vain and beauty opened a Pandora's box of temptation that I'd rather avoid.

Good health, a body that allows me to participate in whatever comes my way, now that's a different proposition.
But this one healthy woman, devoted to helping other people use their bodies more fully, works muscles and bones and knows just by touch what is best for each body-- including her own.

4. Finances. It is cheaper to be healthy and thin than fat and disease ridden. I must buy a sack of potato chips. I drive to the grocery store, buy the chips, drive home and devour them. I've polluted the environment as well as my body. Now, if I plant a garden -- peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, radishes....I nurture the garden which requires physical exercise and effort, takes me out in the fresh air, and harvesting then eating that harvest adds to my good health. Plus, I can buy quite a few seeds and plants for the cost of a couple sacks of potato chips. (I get the $3.19/bag kettle chips).

Or, if you don't want to garden -- check how many veggies you can get for the cost of a bag of chips and a six-pack or a pizza or whatever your weakness is.

The cost of plus size clothes -- much higher than petites or misses.

The cost of buying two seats on an airplane so you can fit comfortably in the seat.
The cost of doctor's appointments, high blood pressure medicine, diabetes meds and testing equipment and then the treatment of side effects on eyes, circulation, kidneys, even moods and well being.

The cost of regret for a life not lived.

5. Disease avoidance. Everyone at sometime or another says, "If only I had done things differently." Once you have diabetes, sore joints, high blood pressure, heart disease, sexual dysfunction, and all of the other nasties that obesity contributes to, you've wasted too much time. Ask my cousin who almost died a couple of years ago which was the better life -- her years spent eating and watching life go buy from her couch in her home, or now, after losing 100 pounds, getting her health back and involved in not only the maintenance of her own self, but also now an avid participant in snowmobiling, walking, yard care, camping, and whatever she feels like doing. And at her new svelte self, anything she feels like doing includes quite a long list of things to do.

And she's kept that weight off and maintained this new lifestyle for a couple of years, now.

One added reason to lose weight: so you can teach your children to love and care for their bodies without saying, "Do as I say, not as I do."

Both of my sons have poor eating habits, a direct result of my inability to love myself and exchange food for what I truly needed to make me happy. I regret passing on this legacy of obesity to my kids.


Anonymous said...

Bravo! I agree 100% with everything you've said. I'm trying to lose weight, and I'm doing it for my health--my blood pressure is starting to creep up. I'd rather be healthy.

I also want that t-shirt Jamie is wearing.

Dawn said...

Hi Amy,
Good luck with the weight loss. I like the shirt, I wonder if they're available.

I'm glad you're taking care of YOU!