Several things here, A.Non. I didn’t get upset. I’m just disappointed.
First, your point’s taken, but kindly. I still have to work my butt off with careful eating, which under quarantine is a bitch, to stay in shape. It’s a never ending challenge, because I have been obese, about which I’ve written extensively. Some of the undertone of your response sounds accusing, as though it’s so much easier for me and perhaps for other people. Not only is that patently untrue, it feels as though when you say there’s a “scolding undertone” that I and other people are mocking. Not at all. Some may, but when I find that I call it out because it’s ugly. So not only has that never been my intention, I go to a lot of trouble to point it out, especially in more recent articles, that what fit looks like is as unique to you as a fingerprint. To judge yourself against any other person is a fool’s errand, A.Non, for your body is going to respond differently. Your body type, height, weight,. makeup (how much brown and yellow fat for example) are unique to you.
I just wrote a piece yesterday that might be more fitting for you to read. There’s a major pivot in it, so kindly stick with it for it starts in one direction and quite intentionally shifts radically in another. I’ll add the link to it at the bottom here.
Your body is just your body. Comparing yourself to anyone else is not only maddening, but hopeless. Being angry about it is even worse. The point is only, as it ever was, to find a way to be fit for how you are built. I don’t much care to run a lot these days, but am limited to it because of Covid, my bikes are in storage. As I age, and I am fifteen years older than you are, the challenge to stay in shape rises, and I am up to it. But that is my choice, as it is all of our choices, to find what works for us at any point in life.
Here are your words:
Yet, um, the tone of the writing does sort of imply, maybe just a teeny, weeny bit, that those of us not this thin and in this tip top shape are lazy, don’t want to do anything, don’t exercise, and don’t care about our health. And we should work and work and work and work until we can do what you can do or else we are weenies. And … my goodness.
Not in the slightest, A.Non. Not in the slightest. Nowhere do I EVER say that you have to be thin, which is not only a lie but it’s a huge manufactured dishonesty by people who are happy to pit us against each other (clearly they’re successful or else we’d not be having this exchange) and that anyone who is battling with their weight is lazy. Not only do I NEVER say that in ANY of my writing, I go to considerable lengths to say just the opposite.
So the greater question is where this messaging comes from. Not from me. The only place the lies about how we HAVE to be thin, we HAVE to do (fill in the blank) are inside you, inside me, or inside anyone because they’re planted there. I didn’t cause those feelings. Your words above are deeply unfortunate exaggerations of whatever messaging you’re getting, and apparently have chosen to believe. To that I might offer this, which I wrote yesterday:
I am not the author of the voices inside you that bark at you. I am not the author of the feelings of anger towards your body. I lived with those same voices for decades, A.Non. I understand them, and I have great empathy for them. But I won’t be the target of them, as you are making me in your writings to me. We allow ourselves to be manipulated into believing we HAVE to be thin, or HAVE to be perfect. I didn’t say that, write that, imply that. If you infer it, A.Non, then again those beliefs are inside you. Not in my writing.
You have a body. That body is your vehicle. Its idiosyncrasies and limitations are absolutely perfect for your journey. Trying to compare yourself to others and getting angry about it not only costs you precious time out of your life, but it causes you to damage connections with others. It causes you to try to do things with and to your body which probably won’t work. Your job is to find what does work. That’s up to all of us. I write about functional fitness, which has nearly eight billion different faces.
Your reactions are terrific feedback about how much you have, as so many have, as I once did, bought into all the societal lies about how we should look. It’s very effective too. All I have to do is look at your choice of words, the frustration you feel, and listen to how much anger you express not only at the perfectly marvelous piece of machinery that you inhabit but how much anger you are willing to level at a stranger for what you perceive to be disdain or mocking or accusations of lazy. All of those things are absolutely perfect examples of what I was writing about in the article above. We allow the corporations who make money on our dissatisfaction to cause us to dislike each other or attack each other or be unhappy with each other because their very effective marketing machines prey on our innate insecurities. Only with our full permission, A.Non. If you’re angry with your body I might offer that this has nothing whatsoever to do with me or anyone else. I would suggest that a healthier way to go after this is to challenge the lies that would drive you to invest so very much in your frustration with your body, trying to force yourself to exercise in ways that clearly don’t work well for you, and ask why? Where on earth do these compulsions come from? What’s pushing me so hard and what do you expect to get from it? Some of us are made to bike and hike (that would be my preferences) others run, others sling weights (that would be me) and others swim. The art of it is to find what works for YOU. If you’re and endomorph, A.Non. you will never, ever be muscular and slim. NEVER. If you are 5'4" and 200 lbs you are not made that way. All the anger and effort you put into trying to carve and shape yourself into something else will do little more than make you even more resentful of people who are made differently from you.
Your comments are peppered with assumptions and implicit accusations which are not just untrue but all of them point back to a fundamental dissatisfaction with yourself. Your battle isn’t with me, A.Non. It’s with your own heart, soul and intellect, as it is with all of us. Your journey to being satisfied with the body you were born with begins with understanding that your body isn’t YOU. It’s just a vehicle. When you identify far too much with your body you will die a million deaths before you get planted. As you are doing right now.
I can only ask that you give yourself some quarter here. This is immensely challenging personal work, for our culture puts such high value on the body and how we look. I’ve got four thousand articles in my archive, and a great many of them speak to this. Fitness is a huge theme for me, but functional fitness for your body, age and where you are in life are, again, unique as a footprint. In an ideal world you wouldn’t compare yourself to anyone else. But that approach doesn’t sell shit, does it? Our economy banks on our deep dislike of our bodies, comparing ourselves to airbrushed images that aren’t real, and the horrific insecurity that unless we are thin we are worthless. There are enough comments in your words to me that indicate that to a certain extent, that’s Koolaid that you’ve been drinking. I did too, and I nearly cost me my life, A.Non. It’s not worth it.
I’ve just invested the first hour of my day on this because you’re important to me. If you don’t get that, I’m sorry. Again. I’m not upset. I hear you, but I also hear the lies that you’re operating under. We all do to some extent because we’re bombarded with them daily. It takes enormous courage to extricate yourself from the bullshit, A.Non. But until you do you are likely to be forever unhappy in the body you were given, and resentful of those that you believe are mocking you when they are not, and forever angry at people about whom you believe have it ever so much easier, which is the greatest lie of all. I might ask that you rethink what is driving you, for such lies cost you quality of life, and they aren’t worth it. You ARE worth it. This is the very definition of deep work, A.Non, and not many rise into it. I wish you the best.