by Laura Heffner
When we place too much emphasis on how we appear, we make ourselves unhappy. The focus of our time and energy is how we look and not how we live our lives. Granted, you want to take care of yourself and your body but obsessing about it leads to being unhappy.
Think about it, when you put off doing things in your life because you don't feel good about your appearance, you lose. Waiting until you lose that last ten pounds before you go the ocean front resort you've dreamt of for years means you might never make it to the beach. Not participating in an activity because you are self-conscious about your body takes away from the joy in life.
I'm one of the largest women cyclists in many of the groups and rides that I participate in. I'm slower than the rest but I love riding so I keep at it. I'll admit, there are times when I feel like a behemoth compared to the smaller ladies and even guys, but I would have lost a lot of experiences by waiting until I was "thin" enough to ride with the faster crowd. I found being fast isn't as important to me as I thought. Riding and having fun is what I really want to get out of the sport. My presence allows other people who are bigger built to feel comfortable being in the group. The bonus for me? I'm fitter and feel better all the way around.
When I was younger and in school, I was the same size and build as my youngest daughter. We are both tall but we aren't "skinny" as we possess large frames and tend to put on muscle easily. In the late 1980's, thin was the rage. You couldn't be rich enough or thin enough back in that era. I walked the halls of my high school feeling very out of place, though I wasn't overweight, I felt like a giant whale most days compared to my size 0 friends. I'm several sizes larger today than I was back then. I look at my daughter and think how in the world could I think I was fat? Then I realize how much thinking in that manner affected my self-confidence, that I dated guys that weren't really good for me and I ignored the ones that probably would have had a positive effect in my life. I didn't pursue my dreams with much gusto either. After all, I had a poor self-image and it affected all that I did or didn't do.
I can't count the number of times where I let my appearance or my perception of my appearance limit me in some way in my life. The last five or so years, I've been trying to rid myself of that thinking. I stopped exercising only to lose weight. I must actually enjoy what I do now. It's made all the difference in the world. I started participating regardless of my size. Yes, I might be last, but I am still out there. Doing so has set me to be a better role model for three daughters. Even when you don't think they are watching, I found that they hold you up as their standard even when they act like you are the most embarrassing person on earth.
So think about it. What are you doing that wastes hours of your life? What could you simplify about your personal care to give you more time for something you love? How does your view of your appearance limit you? Think about it as if this is your last day on earth. Does it really matter if you are fifty pounds overweight? Or your hair isn't perfect? Or you don't look like Jennifer Aniston? Or George Clooney? In the grand scheme of things, none of it will matter after we are long gone except how we lived our lives this very moment.