Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Isn't it Vain or Shallow to Focus on my Appearance?

This question comes up for almost all of my clients at some time or another. A kind of dark shadowy guilty feeling.. isn't it vain or shallow of me to be focusing so much on my outer appearance? Shouldn't I love myself how I am?

I believe that feeling good in your body when it fits into your size 4 pants only appears vain or shallow on the surface. At the core, you know it feels better to live in a slimmer, fitter body because you know you're taking care of yourself. Because you have more energy. Because you're more confident. Because you've never felt so good in your own skin. And guess what? It shows!

But it doesn't feel good to think that others might be judging us, or to be subconsciously judging ourselves. So it's important to get clear about all of those reasons why you're choosing to focus on your health, your weight and outer appearance.

What often pops up in our heads when we start to shine in our new body and feel good about it, is that we start to fear that OTHER people will think we are vain or shallow, for putting so much effort into our outward appearance, whether we're losing weight or dressing differently... so, either seriously or jokingly (or both), we call ourselves vain to make sure no one gets confused and thinks we've gotten lost in our own ego. 

Shouldn't I love myself no matter what I weigh?

Yes, please! And this is a big part of the mindset shift I help cultivate. Problem is, we usually feel bad for having extra weight on our bodies in the first place.

I believe that our bodies (and our lives) are outward expressions of our inner selves - our consciousness, our commitments, our growth, etc. Does this mean people who are overweight are flawed or lacking on the inside, in their character? No! I see their extra weight as an expression of their culturally inherited ignorance about eating - the wide mis-information we're taught by food companies and the media. (Have you seen this: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food?)

Here's the thing: Our bodies are evolutionarily designed to hold onto extra calories for survival. To me, it's a moral and ethical question to food companies and their leaders - it seems they are deceiving the mass public, and often, themselves. Their products are designed precisely so that you WON'T be able to "control yourself" or have "willpower". Additionally, the food and diet industries makes sure you think you SHOULD have the control and willpower to resist, that your overweight because you're weak, you're out of control, you're a failure... The messaging is blatant, just look at the TV show The Biggest Loser.

I say all of this because I think it's worth getting angry about. I see it undermine the success my clients feel (or fear) as they eat, feel and look better. I too, have struggled with feeling egotistical and self-centered for eating healthfully. Eating better should make you feel better!

Here's the reality about "focusing on your appearance"... That's not really what you're focusing on, is it?

When you release that extra weight, it's because you made the changes and the investments in your physical health, your energy and your sense of control, and you made every single one of little choices that got you there.

When you follow through and show up for yourself, you cultivate your sense of worthiness, your sense of confidence. This is why taking baby steps is so important - they allow you to easily follow through and continuously build your sense of self-confidence and self-worth.

Every little baby step forward, every little healthy choice is an inner affirmation that "I can and I am doing this for me because I'm worth it."

And no, none of us is perfect, none of us have the eating thing 100% figured out, but I when you are continuously educating yourself and supporting yourself through reading, programs and coaching, you are showing up and exploring this question of how to take better care of yourself EVERY DAY.

You totally deserve to feel good about the way you look. You are making it happen. Tell people why it matters to you and you give them permission to let it matter to them too.

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