A MIRROR is a useful thing. Driving a car – it stops you reversing into the garage door. Brushing your hair – it helps cover the bald patch. Bomb squad – it shows what lies on the other side of the door. A scale too is a useful thing. Measuring exact quantities of sugar for chocolate fudge. Selling correct quantities of said fudge at the school fete.
But how useful are these tools for feedback on your body?
Weight and image
The two external measures by which every Tom, Dick and Harriet make decisions and choices about whether their bodies are “perfect”, “toned”, “obese”, “fat” or “frumpy”. Why are we fixated on these measurement tools? Do they tell us anything useful about what our body is capable of, how sexy it is, whether we can dance the tango, or give birth to triplets?
Our cave-dwelling ancestors probably only saw their hazy image on the surface of some idle pond when fishing. How heavy their bodies were mattered only if they were balanced on a creaking pole while crossing a raging river. Too heavy; it breaks. Light enough and you get to watch Hairy Harry fall in.
What did matter was what their bodies could do. Whether they could outrun the woolly mammoth or hold onto the vine long enough to swing across to Jane’s perch.
Feeling the moment
A ballet dancer by training and profession, I recently took up fitness pole dancing. Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking! Actually, it’s an amazing form of dance which uses every core muscle you have to stay on the pole and frustrate the wishes of gravity to bring you back down to earth. When performing before an audience, it’s as if my body takes on a life of its own. It moves without effort, I occupy a “zone” in which mind, body and the moment all fuse into one. All athletes get that glazed look when they talk about being in the “zone”; when winning is secondary; when time slows down and all of the body is in total sync. It’s the moment when the body is at its optimum and it can’t be captured on a scale or in a mirror.
The majority of my clients arrive at my door with a magic number in their heads. Not the lotto numbers, but a number they think will bring them even greater joy. That number is always expressed as unit of ‘killer’grams. My job is to get them to feel their bodies again; to tune into what their bodies are broadcasting. To provide them with the hammer that will turn their mirrors and scales into cathartic art.
What can you do?
In the end, our pursuit of the “perfect” body only brings us unhappiness. Bodies aren’t meant to be perfect. They’re built to do. They’re all designed along similar principles, but not one is the same as another. So what can your body do? When last did you visit that zone, when your mind, body and time all merged into one and you felt “perfect”?
Tanya Wyatt is a nutrition and lifestyle coach, health writer and presenter
The Happy Body: (041)581-1679, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.thehappybody.co.za
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