“If I could just lose this handful of fat and that handful of jiggle, I’d be happy,” I thought as I showered the other morning. Just as suddenly as the thought appeared, I recognized it for the elusive, beguiling lie it was. If I miraculously sculpted off those areas, I’d then focus on some other droopy pooch or flabby spot.
The hard, cold truth hit me. If I got rid of the areas that bug me most, I’d just be thinner. Not happy. It was more reminder than epiphany. I *know* these things, on an intellectual level. But I grew up hearing (and accepting, on some level), the cynical mantra:
You can never be too rich or too thin.
(Sidenote: Who knew it was Wallis Simpson who quipped that? And my, isn’t she just the right person to epitomize that philosophy?)
I have finally realized the quote is not merely cynical; it’s a big, fat, lie. Ask any doctor or anyone who has struggled with anorexia or bulimia: you can be too thin. As to being too rich? Solomon, the richest (and arguably wisest) man on record, said it’s all vanity. Fleeting. Ephemeral. Here today, gone tomorrow. There’s nothing wrong with being wealthy, but if accumulating more and more wealth is what drives you, you serve a vile, fickle master.
For those who don’t know me well, you might be surprised that my weight is this much of an issue with me. Even at my heaviest, I looked deceptively healthy, even though my weight was veering toward the clinical definition of “obese” (the curse of being short.) At my thinnest, I am still at the upper end of where the charts say I should be. Slender but not skinny.
Do I want to be skinny? No. The emaciated “look” idealized among the glitterati of models and celebrities is scary. But I do understand the relentless pursuit of thin-ness: with every five pounds I’ve lost, I can always find another five pounds I’d like to drop. (Don’t worry – as often as not, it’s the same five pounds that returned home for a holiday visit.)
So why write this? It’s about accountability. My third month resolution check-up is coming up. I’ve stepped up the exercise regime to include 10-12 miles a week on the elliptical. I am slowly seeing and feeling the effects; as always, it never happens quickly enough. And I write this to encourage anyone else struggling with body image or life choices and priorities. Take heart. And take steps every day to be better and change your life to be healthier, physically and emotionally. But never forget that happiness is temporary. It will not come from achieving a certain size or shape or magical number in your bank account. It will not come from money, or anything that money can buy. Contentment is the true goal, and it comes from learning to accept and love yourself as an imperfect soul, striving to be better every day that God gives you breath. And contentment is something that you may need to rediscover rather frequently.