Are We Too Busy Fighting With Our Bodies To Fight The Real Enemy?

It’s not my body that needs fixing. What we need to fight is society’s belief that “healthy” looks a certain way, follows certain rules, and applies only to a very narrow set of people.

Every once in a while, a voice in my head would tell me, “You know, Debs, maybe you should just let it go.”

I’ve been struggling with my weight and my figure since the school nurse wrote, “Slightly overweight for her size” in my health booklet when I was just 9 years old. At 10, my Physical Education teacher publicly shamed me for not being able to do 30 sit-ups in under a minute. I was so stressed by the weekly shaming, I took to hiding in my room after school, found some way to jam my feet under a chest of drawers, and trained myself to do those damn sit-ups.

There was a time when I would tell my colleagues that I wished I had the “discipline” to stick to an eating disorder.

What else can you do when you have tried dropping weight the “right” way and nothing worked? Short of imposing ridiculous rules about what you can and cannot eat, when you can and cannot eat, and what you should and should not do after consuming, god forbid, calories, the Universal Truth we have been tricked into accepting is:

The smaller that number on the scale, the more moral superiority you can claim.

No pain, no gain.

Sweat is fat crying.

If you think lifting is dangerous, try being weak; being weak is dangerous.

What hurts today makes you stronger tomorrow.

In order to build a body you can be “proud” of, you need to suffer.

Maybe it’s right, maybe it’s wrong. But what if your body just doesn’t behave in any predictable way, no matter what you do?

Whenever I tell doctors I exercise at least 6 days of a week, they’d take a look at my BMI (body mass index) and immediately give me a look of utter disbelief.

When I’m happier with my weight, I find myself struggling to keep up with the intensity of my workouts. I’d get winded more easily, my legs just can’t seem to summon up the power needed to run up a flight of stairs or up a steep slope.

Ironically, when I am feeling powerful and giving peak performances in my workouts, my body fat percentage is often at its highest. When my clothes feel loose and fit better, the number on the scale is often depressing.

WTF, right? Perhaps here’s where you find yourself tempted to add that I should seek professional help, get a proper diet coach to help me work out what my “trigger” foods are, even have my DNA tested so really understand my body better.

But should I? Do I really have to do that?

Is this really about understanding my body better or, is this about getting society as a whole to change the way it views what “a body” actually is?

I’m not going to be winning sports championships but I’m definitely more active than at least 60% of the population in Singapore. I don’t have a body to die for but my health (save for anything weight-related) isn’t failing and everything works. My skin glows, I’m mentally strong, motivated to always do my best, my mind is sharp and, the only reason why I would ever get sluggish in the middle of the day is because there’s not enough work to keep me challenged.

So, are the only things that are keeping me from being “celebrated” as a paragon of health the number on a scale, the number on my dress tag, and my vital stats?

Should we really have to deprive and police ourselves in order to “deserve” the body other people find appealing?

There is — right now — only a range of body measurements that is deemed as “healthy” and “beautiful”. Anything that falls outside of it, we debate incessantly over what is politically incorrect and what is empowering.

It’s time to throw the idea of a “healthy body” out of the window. If there’s anything we need to work on, it’s our attitudes, beliefs, and mindsets.

52 down, 11 to go

I get by on some food and whiskey but I can’t survive without my 3-hour long weekend naps.

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