Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Balancing Act for the Physical Realm

Today I put on a pair of pants I had purchased for work at the beginning of the summer... and they were laughably large on me. They looked downright silly, but I wore them anyway because I don't have that many options (and I felt too lazy to change).

It made me quite happy, though, to have such tangible evidence that I have indeed been losing weight. And this is where my inner dilemma begins, because - after all - shouldn't I be able to be happy with whatever body I might have?

It's quite a dichotomy we face, particularly in Western society. We are told to love ourselves and embrace our bodies, but we are also shown images nonstop of sometimes frighteningly thin people with shiny, thick heads of hair and hairless bodies (male and female), with this airbrushed, body-as-career kind of "ideal" that is not at all realistic for the average, everyday man or woman.

Simultaneously, we're also bombarded lately with health information and doctors' admonishments to lose weight, eat healthy, and exercise. Mind you, this is a much more positive and constructive message... but it can sometimes conflict with the embrace thyself mantra one supposedly must be chanting in order to fully accomplish self-love and establish self-esteem.

So... where is the middle way, as the Buddhists might say? Perhaps a healthy blend of self-acceptance mixed with a happy and conscious decision to make changes based not upon others' expectations or ideals, but upon our own concept of who we are - or wish to be.

The idea of change, growth, evolution, or enlightenment exists in nearly every religion or spiritual practice out there. Although it is often applied within a spiritual context, why not also consider the ramifications for a similar journey via mental, emotional, or even physical aspects of self?

If such a thing is possible, and the notion of reaching toward a divine realization of self has a ring of truth to it... then perhaps what I am striving toward is a balance between the body that is mine in its truest form, and my ability to love and accept myself at each point along my path toward physical equilibrium.

Such a process could allow each step to be one of increasing joy, and might enable me to see the journey as something positive and beneficial, rather than a fight or struggle through which I become battered, discouraged, or frustrated.

It is easy to think of such things on a successful day - when the scale has gone down, the pants are loose, and the engagement ring long packed away is extremely close to fitting again. The challenge will be responding with the same sort of acceptance and enjoyment on days where the results differ from my expected and dearly wanted outcomes.

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