A Story Behind Every Body *Updated*
As many of you know, I’ve been blogging about health and fitness since 2013. I wrote a blog post that year entitled, “Judge Not: A Story About Every Body” which you can click the link to read, about a woman who wanted to lose weight badly judged me about having her idea of the “perfect body”. She discovered in our discussion about her misconceptions of me. Today, I’d like to revisit that topic from a different perspective—midlife with health issues while living a healthy lifestyle. The judgment fingers have been pointed at me lately, including my own. We become our own harshest critic when others’ criticism sinks down deep into our hearts.
The obvious one is size. Since I’ve acquired MCVD and gone through menopause, my dream of aging gracefully disintegrated. What used to be a gym body staring back at me from the mirror, now looks like a marshmallow in comparison. I’ve gained 10-15 pounds but looks like I’ve put on 20+. You’d never know I had been at an athletic fitness level for over 20 years. The messages of, “You’re fat!” and “Why don’t you DO something about this?” taunt me. The problem is that I eat healthy low calories foods, but I cannot exercise as I did. Right now, I’m in Florida while we finish building our home. I’ve gone walking every day and worked out in the campground pool. There is no way I can burn 400-500 calories in a 45-minute workout anymore. I can’t do those exercise formats without damaging my body. It certainly is counterproductive to go crazy with my workout if it puts me down in bed for a few days.
Do you look at others, or yourself, and think,” Why doesn’t she DO something about her weight?” Step back and think to yourself, “What’s her story?” Not everyone is overweight or out of shape by their own choice. Some of my best educators on this topic were older adults with serious health issues. Many were on medications that caused their weight to balloon. With prednisone-induced round “moon” faces looking me in the eye, they said, “Char, I used to be an athlete. It KILLS me to be this way, but I have no choice if I want to live.” Their bodies were buoyant enough to keep them afloat in the deep end without an aqua belt. Me? I needed to actively tread water to keep my head at the surface of the water because dense muscle sinks, but fat floats. These ladies were actively doing something about their weight and their health. They were working out as best as they could. Now it seems I’ve joined their ranks.
The next obvious one is age. Most people think age and size go hand in hand–but does it? Just when I picked on myself about extra pudge around my middle, my son said, “Mom, you look like you are doing great for your age.” He was comparing me with most other women he’s seen in their 50’s and 60’s. What was I doing? Comparing my 115-pound muscular, healthy former self with my 125-ish pound, squishy mid-life self. He made me think from a broader scope instead of my personal bubble.
Do you equate age with size? When you think of people in their 50’s and 60’s, do you think of puffy-looking people with waists bigger than their hips and double chins? We went for a walk around Spanish Springs in the Villages, Florida. Some of these mid-lifers blow away that preconceived notion. One woman, probably 60-something, had an incredible, athletic build. You could tell she worked out in the gym. Many others weren’t overweight and puffy either because they could be physically active year around. When I compared myself with them, I felt, well, average. Maybe my son was right. Sometimes what we see is a very small slice of the whole pie.
The least obvious one is “not from around here”. Different regions have a tendency toward either being overweight or ultra-healthy. For example, in the rural area where we’ve been living, most people are overweight, out of shape, and very unhealthy. The farmer’s diet is killing our rural farming communities. Quite a few midlife women are at least 50 pounds overweight where I live. The overall health condition of mid-lifers here in Michigan is often reflected at my cardiologist’s office: atherosclerosis, poor heart health, borderline-type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol! So, when I see my heart doctor, he forgets about the complexity of autoimmune disease issues and treats me like the average midlife heart patient of the area. I often must remind him about my healthy lifestyle, and then he finally concluded at my last visit that my case is complicated due to several conditions feeding each other’s symptoms: I’m not the average person from this community. I do live a healthy lifestyle given my health factors, but I don’t look picture perfect.
Read: Matthew 7:1-3 NLT
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”
When you look around, you will notice people who live an unhealthy lifestyle because that’s all they know, or they have health issues that force them to be overweight and physically less fit. This situation is an unfortunate reality in our country and other developed countries. You don’t have to live like that, though.
Point the magnifying glass back to yourself. When you see someone who eats healthy and exercises, do you often say, “Oh, that’s just so-and-so” rather than, “I really need to do what so-and-so is doing”? Be sure you are doing what you can to take care of your body to be more effective for God’s Kingdom.
Become an influencer. Influence others to help those who really don’t want to live on pills and a limited lifestyle, even if you are an outsider. If someone points a judging finger at your body, take advantage of the moment to help them understand your story. Give them a snapshot of how you do take care of your body, even though it doesn’t look picture perfect. Turn the discussion around to help them do a “sober assessment” of themselves by asking, “What are you doing to take care of your body?”
We can make a difference with people around us by caring about them enough to live a totally healthy lifestyle and leaving our judgment gavel at the Lord’s feet. We can lovingly influence others to do the same.
I would love to read your totally healthy lifestyle story. Email me at email@example.com. Blessings to you!