Health Is Not About How You Look, But The Relationship You Have With Your Body

Published on: July 3, 2016

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Unhealthy Relationship With Our Bodies

“There’s lots of people in this world who spend so much time watching their health that they haven’t the time to enjoy it.” — Josh Billings

Health is not about how you look, since this is one facet of your being. Many people are obsessed with the perfect physique to the detriment of their health. They scrutinise their physical appearance with earnest and compare themselves to other people via Instagram, for example. However, this is harmful in the long run because comparing ourselves to others is an endeavour we are bound to lose. It was the American neuroscientist Candace Pert, who said: “The body is the subconscious mind. Your body has an innate intelligence, evident by the thousands of chemical and electrical processes that work without your conscious awareness.”

Your emotions literally transform your body to create your health. If you don’t believe me, try being depressed for a week and note the change in your physiology. Your body listens and responds to your thoughts and why constant preoccupation with your physical appearance creates stress because you are drawn to what is wrong. I’m sure this is not your intention and perhaps focussing on your physical looks is healthy. Yes, logically, but your mind does not perceive it this way. This is why eating disorders abound because of the unhealthy relationship people develop with their bodies. When repeated attention is held on your appearance, your mind perceives this as a minor stress. Can you identify with this? Have there been times where you resorted to food to feel good about yourself?

“An eating disorder is a compulsion rather than an addiction, and it is not an illness. It is a culturally learned pattern to distract you from self-love,” writes clinical neuropsychologist Mario Martinez. People of all ages post images of themselves on social media, in part to inspire others. This is a movement prompted in recent times by smart phones, yet its motive is undesirable to those seeking inspiration. Physical attractiveness is the wrong metric to focus on because there lots of people who look healthy but a sick inside. It’s why fat-shaming has flourished because people are drawn to unattainable poster images, depicting those with suboptimal body-fat levels. If you don’t fit this image, you’re considered overweight. Really? Says who?

The Key To Long-Term Health

“Just because you’re not sick doesn’t mean you’re healthy.” — Author Unknown

Health begins from the inside out and cannot be sustained from the outside-in. You may have a healthy body image which reflects in your self-esteem. However, there are people with good-looking physiques that have low self-worth because they identify only by their looks. Similarly, those with normal physiques have high self-esteem. Countless people strive for physical beauty, yet many are emotionally unwell inside. To illustrate this point, consider walking through the front door of a beautiful home, spectacular on the outside. You step through the door and collapse through the floorboards because there’s no foundation to support it. The point I wish to highlight is centred on nurturing yourself from inside out. Is this something you’re willing to devote your attention to: your inner life?

To take this idea further, most people get their health and fitness information from online resources. However, these resources are written by people without qualifications in their respective field. They lure you into buying their products or service to enhance their self-image, at the expense of your hard dollars and health. There’s a great deal of misinformation on popular websites, who use ghost writers with no health experience to maintain their online presence. Therefore, we ought to be mindful of the information we consume. Just because it sounds good doesn’t mean it’s right for you. This applies to what you read here. Don’t take my word for it, investigate everything with due diligence and apply it where appropriate. To know if the information is suitable for you, live it for three months and note the changes in your body. The principles must be sound to begin with and try to avoid dieting or restrictive health plans, since they’re detrimental to your long-term health.

I urge you to read an eye-opening book by Catherine Shanahan MD titled, Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. She states: “The reason that so many of us have health problems today is that we no longer eat in accordance with any culinary tradition. In the worst cases of recurring illnesses and chronic diseases that I see, more often than not, the victim’s parents and grandparents haven’t either.” If you focus on your external appearance, something must give way to maintain it.

It’s worth repeating, your looks are only one facet of your health. What is your identity if you are permanently scarred or injured from an accident? I know many successful athletes who identify with their physical qualities and performance. When injured, they fall into depression because this image is no longer there to reinforce their self-worth. Therefore, avoid unrealistic images perpetuated by mainstream media. In most cases, they’re hired models and don’t represent a cross section of the population. You must be content with your body image because this reflects in how it performs.

How To Feel Good About Yourself

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” – Hippocrates

The mind body connection is powerful. If we emphasise an ideal physical type, we distort the true meaning of health. To enjoy lasting health, nurture other aspects of your life like your mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. What is the point of giving attention to: the foods you eat, the clothes you wear, or the ideal fitness routine when your mental and emotional spirit calls for your attention? If you repeatedly focus on your appearance, your reference point becomes that. Yet, if you focus on other aspects of your health, you identify with the wholeness of your true nature.

In these selfie obsessed times, we look for validation from others to confirm our self-worth. We have an innate drive to feel good about ourselves. However, if we focus on our physical form, it overshadows the lesser components of our health. I’m not proposing you stop posting images online, nor stop following those who do. We attain power when we’re conscious and awake to our motives. Health is not about the way we look but a call to love ourselves foremost. After all, what we’re really craving for is love and a close connection with ourselves.

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