The View From My Beach Chair

Posted: July 17, 2012 in Healthy Living

Just a week or so ago I had the opportunity to return to one of my all time favorite places for vacation:  Cape May, NJ.  It is a place that is very dear to my heart seeing as I have practically spent every summer there since the time I was a kid.  (And no there weren’t any sightings of Snookie or the Real Housewives of NJ…not all of NJ is what those two shows portray!)


As I was sitting on the beach in my comfortable beach chair – I began to really take in all that my senses had to offer.  The smell of the ocean air as each wave crashed to shore…the taste of salt on my tongue from the salt water (could’ve been from my sweat too – IT.WAS.HOT!)…the touch of the sand as I was able to do one of my favorite things – walk barefoot…the sound of laughter and screams of delight as children played in the sand and surf…and the sight of many people of all ages enjoying their time on the beach.

It was the sounds and sights that caught my attention the most.  The children were all running so freely in their bathing suits completely unaware (or so I think) of body image – cellulite, 6 pack abs (or lack there of) and anything else that we as adults focus on all to well.  So when was it that we made the transition from the blissfully ignorant child to the adult that is slammed with images of what society portrays as beautiful?  When did we start looking to society to tell us what an acceptable body image should be?

Then I took note of the adults who were displaying their imperfect bodies of all ages and sizes in their bathing suits and thought to myself that it was amazing to see people’s head held high as they paraded down the beach.  At the same time, I began to wonder what was really going on inside their heads.  Who were the ones that really and truly loved their bodies and were totally comfortable in their own skin flaws and all? And who were the ones putting on a good act, but inside the negative self-talk was just as loud as those happy, giddy children?

In my opinion, our society is so focused on body image that unless you fit into a certain mold then you need not be seen in various clothes much less a bathing suit.  Not true – of course!  There are many of us who unfortunately have fallen under society’s spell when it comes to judging our own bodies.  We are extremely hard on ourselves believing that if we just do this or that, eat this or that, buy this gadget or that one, that all will be fixed in a matter of time.  But will it?  Chances are we will never be able to change mass society’s views so we need to change ours.  No book, gym membership, DVD, trainer, etc. will ever be able to rectify things especially if our line of thinking and how we view ourselves are both flawed. I am not saying that we shouldn’t make an effort to better ourselves, (reach for goals or continually make new ones)…I am simply saying that we should not look to society to tell us what better looks like.

I have lived a large majority of my life under that guise and still to this day wrestle with it.  Fortunately it is not as bad as it once was.  There are times when it is easy to get lured back in fully if I am not careful.  I am still working everyday to rid myself of the negative body image self talk that unfortunately has been like a mantra for me for many years.  It’s not easy, but I am making progress.  So now – I don’t weigh myself like I did almost every day for the longest time.  In fact I don’t weigh myself – period!  I know I will never be a size 2 but that’s quite all right with me and trust me – it has taken me a loooooong time to be able to make peace with that fact.  I no longer focus on the scale.  I want to be healthy and strong.  Don’t get me wrong – I still work at the gym to get my appearance a certain way – but it is MY way, MY interpretation of what I want MY body to look like.  (And lately I have adopted another focus and it has been more on health and strength.)  So if I don’t fit into skinny jeans because I have gotten a little thicker due to muscle accumulation – so be it!

So don’t be fooled into thinking that the skinny that society puts so much emphasis on equates with picture perfect health.  That is not the case.  Ever heard of skinny-fat?  A person can be outwardly skinny, but still have a good portion of their body composition coming from fat.  Also – just because someone is thin does not mean that they are immune to ailments that are typically thought of as those that only pertain to overweight people.   

Strive to be healthy and look the way you want to look – not the way the TV and magazines say you should.  Focus on different numbers and other values rather than just the scale and clothing size.  Focus on getting stronger and being able to do more weights, focus on the blood pressure number, the body composition number, or finally changing your relationship with food after many years of having an unhealthy one, etc.

Learn to be yourself…respect yourself…love yourself.  Be the best you you can be!

  1. Debby Justice says:

    Joanne, I have read and reread this post and it is very meaningful to me…trying to turn my focus towards those good habits and less on beating myself up for feelings of inadequacy!

    • Joanne says:

      Debby – I am so glad that you have found meaning in my post! One small change at a time and be proud of every accomplishment. When you have those feelings of inadequacy try to shut them down immediately and focus on the things you can do and the accomplishments you have made. It takes time…I know! Keep at it!

  2. Kate Horney says:

    I love this!!!! Great post!!

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