“You have to understand everyone’s body was built to do something,” Carter said. “I think the world is realizing we were promoting one body type and there have always been many.” – Michelle Carter, Shot-Putt Gold Medal Olympian, Rio 2016
In the early 1950s, a doctor told a woman that her daughter was obese and should be put on a diet. The child was told she could only eat lettuce leaves and cottage cheese until she lost the weight and if she did lose the weight, she would be loved. She was a toddler. This restrictive, nutritionally poor diet supplemented by the emotional abuse of being told thin = lovable cultivated an unhealthy relationship with food, weight, self-image, and self-confidence which this child struggled with painfully into adulthood.
This 1950s obese toddler was my mother. As an adult, she worked very hard to try to give me a healthy relationship with food and my body but every time I went to the doctor, the doctor would remind me that I “had to be careful because I was predisposed to being obese like my mom,” and every time I went to a restaurant with my mom, people would stare at her because of her weight. Family members would consistently and constantly pull me aside to ask about her weight and offer suggestions for me the child to help her the adult.
Maybe the doctor really did want me to be careful. I danced 7 days a week, I ate vegetables, I was a healthy weight, fit, and strong, yet I left doctors appointments crying with shame that I was fat and a failure. When people stared at my mom entering a restaurant, I would have the same feeling one might if they saw an alcoholic buying and drinking liquor, wishing you could help them help themself. And family, well – can’t live with ’em can’t live without ’em.
The point is that having an co-dependent relationship of weight and self-confidence is not a unique one. Media is so ripe with advertisements for weight-loss products and seventeen year old stick-thin models that the message of thin = beautiful, thin = lovable, thin = successful is always in our faces. Even in the fitness industry, ripped muscles on thin bodies are the standard magazine cover defining what it looks like to be in shape, sexy, and desirable.
And that’s why watching the Olympics and seeing athletes like Olympic Gold Medalist Michelle Carter dominate is increasingly important. Different body-types excel at different things. Michael Phelps in no way would be able to achieve what she had and vice-versa.
So why do we, the non-Olympians, suffer (torture ourselves? shame ourselves?) for not having the ideal body-type…meaning someone else’s body type?
Athletes focus on weight only as it applies to functionality – making their times faster, getting their vaults higher. So ask yourself this question, “What do I need my body to be able to do to live the life I desire?” Start there and like Michelle Carter said, you’ll “understand everyone’s body was built to do something.”
For more on Michelle Carter click here
For more conversation about getting your body to better function for the life you desire email me at [email protected] or give me a call at 917-613-1552.