I almost prefaced this post with a disclaimer that I do not intend to offend anyone by its content. On second thought, it's my blog and I'm allowed to write about whatever I like -- so if you don't like what I write or take offense to it, please let me know. Controversy is my middle name.
Lately I have been reminded of the negative view our society has adopted in regards to health and fitness. In years past, someone who was in shape and took care of his/her body would be applauded and considered a role model (Arnold, pro athletes, Olympians, etc.). Nowadays, I hear more criticism of my healthy lifestyle than encouragement. Take the other day, for example. When I decided not to accompany my office to the local Chinese buffet, several coworkers expressed their (wrong) opinions: "Oh, Lauren's not going because she just wants to make us look bad." When I decided not to eat the potato salad, cookies, chips, and pop at the office picnic: "Are you on a diet - because you of all people don't need to be on a diet." When every afternoon I drink my protein shake instead of eating a Snickers bar: "Why are you drinking that? [mockingly] Are you like some crazy bodybuilder or something?"
When has my choice of living a healthy lifestyle become a point of criticism? It's sad that today's society has so openly welcomed and accepted obesity that when I try to make a stand against it, I am ridiculed. Since when has it become acceptable for extremely overweight Americans to workout, eat healthy, and make smart choices, but someone like me cannot? Do I have to be terribly overweight and completely unhealthy for it to be "ok" to follow guidelines? Why is it that now I keep my mouth shut about my healthy lifestyle in fear of being made fun of? Why can't people understand that I'm not trying to insult anyone by how I live?
Is it jealousy? Anger? Resentment? Or would Americans, or any human being for that matter, choose to live in comfortable denial rather than face the harsh truth? Let's admit it, obesity has become an acceptable epidemic in America and it makes me sick. I shouldn't have to feel bad about what I eat, or how often I work out, or my short and long term weight goals because I am striving to make myself better. God has given me this body and I want to glorify Him with it. I want to take care of myself to the best of my ability, not only for my own good, but for my husband and my future children (yikes!). Is this such a bad thing?
Please let me reiterate that I by no means intend to brag about my accomplishments. I struggle with my body image just as much as any other woman (ask my husband if you don't believe me) and I do not consider myself as any type of standard. I work extremely hard and have had to make many sacrifices to get to the place where I am today. I also fail and make mistakes on a regular basis (read: the double cheeseburger meal from McDonald's last weekend). I whole-heartedly applaud and support anyone, regardless of body weight, who makes the tough decision to change their life. And by golly, it's hard! It's not easy to choose a turkey sandwich over sweet and sour chicken. It's almost impossible to pass on the DoubleStuf Oreos or Sharon Bellomy's homemade chocolate cake. And Lord knows, Starbucks is in existence solely to tempt me.
BUT, after all is said and done, and after listening to criticism left and right, I look in the mirror and I am proud of myself. I only wish society would stop making me feel so doggone guilty for finally doing something right. Now if you'll excuse me, my chocolate mint protein shake is calling my name...