April 11, 2023
This topic is one that can be sensitive so we want to handle it appropriately. As usual, the subject came up because of an activity in Greg’s online class for teens — Habits for a Successful Life — and a resulting email from a mom. (We love getting emails).
The students were asked to take a self-assessment of multiple areas of their life — mental, emotional, physical, etc.
As part of the physical assessment, different activities were done — holding their breath, touching their toes, counting pushups, and measuring ‘grabbable’ skin/fat on their belly. This last assessment is similar to what is done during a BMI examination (Body Mass Index test), except they measure belly, triceps, and inner thigh fat/skin.
One parent was concerned that grabbing the stomach… brought “attention to this area of their body and was damaging to their confidence… As a certified personal trainer and in my training it was strongly emphasized to never ask a client to assess the health of their bodies in this manner, it creates body shaming and sets a client up for failure.”
Some people struggle with body image and obsess about the very minor skin they can grab around their middle. The world on Instagram has them believing they need to be twigs.
“As a mom, I’m trying to teach them to love their bodies and our bodies don’t have to look like those on Instagram or other social media platforms.What is important, is being healthy and taking proper care through eating well and exercising,which [my children] are doing.”
She continued, “I want them to focus on healthy habits of movement and eating and if they do that their bodies will be healthy no matter how they might look compared to someone else.”
We absolutely agree. Women and girls (or men and boys) should not be obsessing about the perfection of their middle and our bodies should not be compared to others, especially photoshopped images on social media.
And yet, BMI matters because excess body fat can lead to long-term health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and cancer. It’s important for us to know if our body fat is increasing or decreasing — not because our ‘image’ matters and we’re trying to look like models on social media — but so that we’re aware of our overall health and wellness.
We need to teach our children to accept this balance -- a need to know without obsessing.
Plus, there is more to the subject than just the long-term diseases associated with excess body fat. In our experience and research, anytime we feel ANY emotion, there is some deeper issue that needs to be addressed. Shame and guilt about our bodies included.
The truth is, no one can ‘shame’ you. No one canmakeyou feel anything. Emotions arise from within, YOU are the source of them. If and when uncomfortable emotions arise it's an opportunity to practice self-awareness about WHY we feel the way we do. Doing so will help us to develop an internal congruence — which makes us whole and immune to the actions, behaviors, or beliefs of others.
This episode is essentially the conversation we have in our own home around body image, body fat, and ‘body shame’. It is the conversation we have had — and continue to have — with our own daughters (and sons).
We discuss that each of us is responsible for getting in tune with our own bodies and letting that intuition guide us to our own unique level of health, wellness, and fitness according to our own long-term goals and desires. Our bodies know what our own ideal shape is meant to look like, and they will respond accordingly through biochemistry, emotions, and feedback loops.
If you’re concerned about the messages in society today regarding body image — but also wondering if there’s more to it and how to find a healthy balance — then listen to this episode now.--- Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/extraordinary-family-life/message
Here are some great episodes to start with. Or, check out episodes by topic.