Thursday, April 5, 2012

FITNESS: Break Down the Walls!!!


Weight is not simple-- there are many factors that lead us to a certain weight. Yet, strangers can easily characterize a person’s body type with a single word (skinny, fat, athletic). Then, assumptions are quickly made about that person’s eating habits and lifestyle. "The anorexic girl only eats lettuce". "The fat girl’s two best friends are Ben and Jerry".  But in reality, we all know that it’s not that simple. We all have that (lucky bitch!) friend who has the body of Heidi Klum, but whose diet seems to consist of hot dogs and sundaes.

For those who are overweight, usually they're unhealthy size is attributed to a laziness or complete lack of self-control. Why should we feel bad for them? They brought this upon themselves. But I believe that society should be a little less quick to assume and try to look past these “quick-fix” explanations. The obese men and women did not choose to be obese. They do not like it. Logically, there is some sort of disconnect between mind and body. If the mind and the body were connected enough to register how much damage their bodies are enduring, these people would stop eating when they are clearly full. Obviously, this is not the case. Maybe there is more to these people than their love affair with cheeseburgers. Maybe these people have created an artificial lust for cheeseburgers to fill a much more complicated desire for something stronger, like real supportive love.

Even if you don’t have a weight “problem,” it is important to notice reasons why you eat. Do you usually just eat when you are hungry? When you eat more, binge, or skip meals, what are you feeling? According to #1 New York Times bestselling author Marianne Williamson, overeating is prompted by a feeling of fear (I recommend her book, A Course in Weight Loss!)

Fear? At first the word seems out of place. When I watch a scary movie, the last thing I want to do is unveil myself from under the covers to find a sandwich. But looked upon more closely, fear encompasses so much more. It’s an overarching term for a variety of feelings that prompt people to act impulsively in order to make the uncomfortable feeling go away.  In many, these impulsive feelings involve unhealthy eating.

Think of fear as a synonym for:

Nervousness: I am so nervous about my test tomorrow. I have no idea how I am going to pass it and that is really unsettling. (Eats for temporary rush of endorphins to calm nerves)

Anger: I am so angry that she ignored me today. All my hard work is a waste. This is pointless. (Abandons discipline and overeats)

Regret: I can’t believe I did that today. I really wish I could take it back. Since I can’t, I also can’t get this terrible feeling out of my head. (Uses food as a distraction from self loathing)

It is undeniable that we have all felt these feelings. But, we all differ in the ways we respond to them. By identifying the feelings themselves, we can make smarter, more informed decisions and avoid unhealthy choices, such as overeating.

So “break down your walls” and think about your feelings (I know, so cliché). But in reality, the better you know yourself, the easier it is to become the person you want to be.

Remember: You are not a hungry, hungry hippo. 

The Woman Behind the Fitness Section:
Samantha Salis is a Psychology Major and Political Economy Minor at UC Berkeley. She is a dedicated young woman, ambitious and sharp as a whip. Our dear Samantha tutors high schoolers and works at a Psychology lab at UC Berkeley. Even with this busy schedule, Ms. Salis creates the time to divulge to us her passion about the fitness and health of women, and is (fortunately for us) very well informed on these topics. Enjoy!

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