It’s that time of year again. Everyone wants to be healthy, and everyone wants you to know about it. If you don’t share your every health and fitness goal with the mailman or cashier, it’s like they don’t exist. If you don’t show the world a picture of the green beans and salad you had for dinner, it never happened.
Accountability is important, but it only works if you show the big picture. Nobody emailed me the picture of the corndog wrapper on the floor of their car. Is that a McDonald’s toy tucked in the toy box? That’s great. On social media you will flood the gates with your green drinks all day, but are ashamed to show the chicken nuggets. I like both, so wipe the shame from your brow, dear child, and come as you are. I don’t discriminate.
I am drinking a chocolate protein shake from a notable brand name as I write this. After I blend it, it gels at the top and feels like I’m drinking foam sludge. But I do it. Because I’m female and my generation doesn’t let me forget it. Honestly, it’s only a problem if you make it a problem. Otherwise, it’s easy to not care about what others think.
However, I’m human and sometimes I do worry about what other people are doing, instead of focusing on my own personal situation. But who’s comparing? Everyone. Everyone is comparing.
I want to transport to the 1970s, burn my bra, and dance in the mud to Grateful Dead. We do none of these things at my church, but it’s the closest I get to feeling freedom within a group of people. Lots of smiles. Lots of talk about being loved. No talk about calories. No being busted for missing my workout yesterday. Freedom is really a mindset that I’ve adopted, even in the crazy world of being healthy. Having personal responsibility means choosing what works for me and not comparing myself to others. There is just no use in comparing what you love and enjoy to what someone else loves and enjoys, it’s counterproductive. Comparison is a thief to all joy. Sometimes yoga and swimming brings me joy. Sometimes whipped cream in my coffee and chocolate covered macadamia nuts bring me joy.
It’s fun to research the trending health buzz on apple cider vinegar, paleo, almond milk, hummus, “super foods”, and everything else you’ve read about or watched on Dr. Oz. I’ve been into weird health crazes since I was a kid, so most of it is very old news, and I feel like a robot. “Blip blip, avocados, beep boop, gluten-free.”
It’s still funny to observe the hype though. Apple cider vinegar is the new grapefruit seed extract. The Master Cleanse (lemon and spices) is the new cabbage soup diet. Coconut oil is the magic bean you sold your house for and when you plant it, it grows into a beanstalk that leads you to your own personal heavenly mansion. If it works, great, if not, to each his own. Find what you love and ditch what you don’t.
At the end of the day, what is left? Even if a part of life is good to focus on (and we can all agree that health is one of them), we’ve all seen what happens when you get obsessed or abusive with it. Since laughing about abuse is frowned upon, I won’t delve into that particular subject. For me, if I focus on one particular thing in life, after a while it can turn into a golden calf (for me that is a slang term for an idol, something that comes between me and what I believe to be the most important part of my life). To be balanced and whole in our well being, it’s good to question ourselves and focus on the internal as much as the external. Maybe instead of asking how many calories I consumed, I should ask, was I kind today? Did I overlook someone being kind to me? Did I hug and love my spouse before retreating to my treadmill to run a few miles?
Here’s the thing: If we seek good things inwardly, live in a way that meets our needs, and remember where our joy is (not comparing ourselves to others!), I think this is the path to life. Living free is a choice or at the very least a perspective. You wake up and decide what you live for, then get on with your day. Remind yourself that no one dictates your day except you. Push out what feels like junk and accept what brings you joy. If exercising brings you joy, do it! If having coffee with a friend brings you joy, do it! Live free.
Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.