by Dr. Theresa DeLorenzo, RD
Weight. It’s such a sensitive subject. We focus on it. We think it’s so important. But is it?
Many people run to lose weight. When I started running, I gained weight. Was it muscle? Maybe. Or was it that I knew I had to fuel myself properly to get through a run without feeling like I was going to die? Probably a little of both.
When I ran in high school, my running career was cut short by mononucleosis. I had been a gymnast, which comes with pressure to look a certain way and weigh a certain amount to perform better. Unfortunately, that pressure can be so intense that performing better turns into a physical breakdown and inability to perform at all. I turned to diving, a softer landing. Diving was in the fall, so I picked a spring sport, track. Needless to say, under-fueling and running didn’t go well.
Our society puts enormous pressure on how we look. From fad diets to social media pictures of washboard abs, it becomes impossible for people to feel good enough, thin enough, fast enough. My goal is to help those I work with to accept themselves and their bodies. Healthy doesn’t mean thin! Some people are not thin but eat healthily and exercise regularly. And others are thin but have an unhealthy diet and don’t exercise. There are so many reasons why someone is thin or not, and why does it matter? Why do we focus on how someone looks versus what they have to offer us and what they contribute to society?
It is common to say to someone we haven’t seen in a while, “you look good!” To some, that is a compliment. But to those with body image dysmorphia, that comment could haunt them for weeks on end: does that mean I look heavier than I looked the last time? Does that mean I now look thin but have to work even harder to stay this way?
Join me in my mission to put less focus on appearance and more emphasis on making healthy changes. We can’t change the body we were given. And we can’t control the things people say. But we can control our reactions. Let’s change the culture from weight-focused to health-focused.
For the full story on my experience and how I got where I am today, stay tuned for my book 32 Strands coming soon!