The Mind-Body-Culture Connection: On Physical Health and a Life Well-Lived

As mentioned in my last post, I have been sick for weeks. On Thursday, I finally accepted that despite an arsenal of medications, I was not getting better, and I needed to go back to the doctor. Before I went into the exam room, I had to face what so many of us dread every time we seek out medical attention: the scale.

I often willfully avert my eyes as soon as my feet hit the metal platform. This is a practice I started when I was pregnant with my daughter, and a habit I have continued to cultivate in the last few years of my Ph.D. program as a combination of sitting, stress, and sugary comfort foods began to transform my once thin body to *ahem* a not-so-thin shape.

Blame it on the cold medicine muddling my brain, but I failed to stare at the wall, ceiling, floor, anything but the numbers in front of me. And, although I knew I had gained weight (the jeans don’t lie), I was shocked at the total amount of weight I had gained in my last year of the doctoral program.

Now, I have zero natural metabolism. I mean NONE. I look at a pack of mini frosted donuts and lose a button. And while exercise helps my mental clarity and emotional stability, for me the key to maintaining a healthy weight is that truly diabolical four letter word: diet.

No matter how much I may resent it, I simply cannot eat whatever I want. And no matter how much I may want to ignore it, I have gained an unhealthy amount of weight and it’s time to take it off.

As a feminist, a teacher, and a woman struggling to live in this thin-obsessed culture, it is difficult for me to admit such a thing. I don’t want to give power to a deeply problematic, abusive industry that relies on shame.

But, I also don’t want to choose a lazy lack of health that is not only personally irresponsible but also irresponsible to those who depend on me to be healthy and around for 31 more years.

So, I’m choosing to eat less, eat healthier, and move more. I’m doing it for my family and for myself, so that I can feel better, do more, and live longer. For the first time in my life, it really isn’t about being “thin”; it’s about recognizing that my body has undergone a drastic change due to unhealthy habits, and that change must be corrected sooner rather than later to avoid serious complications.

Prayer for the Mind/Body/Culture Connection: Lord, I ask that you keep my motivations and values clearly before me. I ask that you help me choose health so that I may be a good steward of the body you have blessed me with and so that I can be a good role model for my daughter as I both seek to live in a healthy way but also turn away from the worldly command to be ever smaller. Amen. 

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