There is an old Gary Larson cartoon with the caption, “Never eat anything bigger than your head.” It is good advice, but when it comes to food, restraint is something many of us find hard to do during the holidays. While the immediate effects can be heartburn, indigestion and bloat, the more long-term result can be a few extra pounds. For some folks a few extra pounds are no big deal. For others, however, those few pounds can make them feel terrible about themselves.
For example, recently I was in the check out line of the supermarket. As I was putting my groceries in my cart, the woman behind me fell, spilling the coffee she was carrying on to herself and the floor. I asked her if she was all right. Her response was, “I just saw a picture of myself and couldn’t believe how fat I was.” Looking at her, there seemed to be nothing exceptional about her weight, yet this was the way she experienced herself.
We all tend to have an idealized sense of not only who we want to be but also what we want to look like. If we don’t live up to the standards we’ve set for ourselves, we can sometimes get depressed and down on ourselves. Indeed, we learn early what to value about our physical appearance from our parents. They may put a positive emphasis on being petite or muscular or more specifically such things as shiny hair, straight teeth or what they perceive to be a cute nose. Sometimes this is a way that our parents make up for what they feel may be a physical defect in their own appearance.
The woman in the checkout line was clearly not at her ideal weight – the weight at which she felt she looked her best. Apparently, she is in good company. According to a recent Gallup poll, 59% of men and 69% of women are currently over their ideal weight by one or more pounds. More specifically, women on average give their ideal weight as 140 pounds. Yet their actual weight is 156, leaving them 16 pounds over their ideal weight. As for men, on average their ideal weight is 185 pounds. However their actual weight is 196 pounds, 11 pounds over their ideal. http://www.gallup.com/poll/158921/americans-continue-adjust-ideal-weight-upward.aspx
Yes, we all should watch our weight as part of a larger plan for healthy living. However, to wake each morning and finish each day feeling depressed and inadequate because of extra pounds isn’t a solution. Maybe Christina Aguilera had it right. During an interview for “Marie Claire,” when asked about the negative reactions of people to her weight gain, she said, “It's noise I block out automatically. I love my body. My boyfriend loves my body. My son is healthy and happy, so that's all that matters to me."
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