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It is that time of year again when we are compelled to change. Be better! Do better! Become the person we are meant to be, unencumbered by doubt and fear! Rada- rada -rada.
The exhortations to get fit, build better habits or find our true calling are often not -so -thinly- veiled messages to implore us to lose weight. The rhetoric is fueled by a billion-dollar diet and “wellness” industry whose values have so permeated our culture that we continue to heed and evangelize its mostly-skeptical science. And though there are many people and institutions in this industry who really want to help you live a healthy, happy life, it can be a pretty toxic mire.
It is something of a paradox that in the midst of a global health pandemic with massive economic disruption, one of our biggest worries is we are getting fat. It’s doubtful that was much of concern for the masses during other historical plagues.
I have spent my whole life feeling fat, worrying about being fat, trying not to be fat, and mostly feeling shame that I am fat. Arguably, objectively, I concede I am not and never have been really fat. But I have always longed to be skinny and I have never felt skinny enough. This sense of shame has probably been the biggest hindrance in my professional success.
I know we often wonder how different our lives might be if we lost five pounds or 10, or 20 or 50. How different might our lives be if we simply didn’t give a damn? If we accepted we are good enough just the way we are?
Is it possible to let go of the idea that we must be better, skinnier, fitter, and yet still maintain the habits of good health, exercise, and active challenge? Can we learn to trust ourselves to try something new regardless of the uncertainty of the future and the fear of failure, or worse – embarrassment? Can we love ourselves enough to prioritize connection over perfection?
In the noise and stress of New Year’s resolutions, can we simply agree to stay the course.
Within this time of quiet hibernation, can we practice acceptance and execute change, either little by little, or wholesale. Can we learn to recognize and understand what we can change and what we cannot.
This year, and daily, I resolve to cultivate joy. I do that by acknowledging the many things I have to be grateful for, and by reminding myself to accept that which I cannot control. Moment by moment I try to cultivate joy in connection, in movement, in my daily tasks and in my plans and dreams for the future.
Happy New Year!