Let me preface this post by admitting that I’ve added the inventor of “lycra” to my list of people I thank God for and that the term “muffin top” has a new meaning for me, particularly since taste testing began in the bakery. Still, over this past year, I was still surprised by the number of customers who came into the bakery and asked if they could just “stand and smell”. “Why of course you can” we responded, but this begs the question…”why would you want to just smell fresh-baked deliciousness when you can actually taste it?
This form of question usually resulted in one poor soul, most often a woman, standing by while their companion ordered and indulged in something sweet. The deprived usually commented, while looking anxious and depressed, “I really want something, but I simply can’t indulge”. I can almost hear their internal conversation aloud; “should I, maybe just a little, don’t do it , I really want it, no you can’t have it” and so on and so on. Why do we do this to ourselves?
I’m like a kid in the classroom right now with both arms raised in the air almost screaming…Ooh, Ooh, Ooh! I know the answer to this. For most of us, it has to do with deprivation in the desperate attempt to reach or maintain a certain body weight. Let’s address the “elephant in the room”, for some this has everything to do with good health, particularly if they have issues with blood sugar, but for many it is not about being healthy at all. It is about their negative body image and their desperate attempt to “feel good in their own skin”. This kind of deprivation usually leads to bingeing, which usually ends with guilt and this vicious cycle begins.
It’s no wonder so many of us, even beginning in the early teenager years, have poor body image. The messages we all get from magazines, movies and television are totally skewed.
How can any of us get a handle on reality when everything we see from photos of fashion models to actors and even athletes are doctored to “perfection” with computer tricks and the ever popular chemical and surgical enhancements. According to dosomething.org, did you know…
*Twenty years ago, models weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, they weigh 23% less than the average woman.
*The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds.
*If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
*About 7% of 12th grade males have used steroids in order to become more muscular.
*If GI Joe were human, he’d have larger biceps than any bodybuilder in history.
*One out of every four college aged women has an eating disorder.
*It is estimated that 40-50% of American women are trying to lose weight at any point in time.
*Americans spend more than 40 billion dollars a year on dieting and diet-related products – that’s roughly equivalent to the amount the U.S. Federal Government spends on education each year!
*Almost half of all women smokers smoke because they see it as the best way to control their weight. Of these women, 25% will die of a disease caused by smoking.
*In 2007, there were about 11.7 million cosmetic procedures performed in the U.S. Ninety one percent of these were performed on women.
*A study found that 53% of thirteen-year-old American girls are unhappy with their bodies. This number grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen.
Isn’t that shocking? I don’t have all of the answers and I am certainly not suggesting that we all binge on “sweets” with reckless abandon. Although, that would be great for our business! I have come to the conclusion, though, that moderation can be part of the solution. How about we focus on setting goals of being strong, fit and healthy. How about planning healthy, nutritious meals which can even include dessert. We can encourage more physical activity. Remember, diets don’t work because food deprivation causes the body to burn fuel more slowly.
Maybe we order and prepare smaller serving sizes. For example, if you do indulge in dessert, order or prepare in single serve sizes like cupcakes. Freeze the remainder and just take out a single serve portion to be enjoyed each day. When you eat one, savor it as a treat. Sit down while you eat it, focus on the flavor and texture, put your utensil down between bites. Give yourself permission to enjoy it. When we deprive ourselves that’s when the indulgence takes on the “super power”.
Bottom line, I believe we can encourage and remind each other to be the best that we can be. Love yourself and others for who you and they are and remember, “beauty is only skin deep”. Physical beauty is superficial. A pleasing exterior is no guide to a person’s inner beauty or character. You can “have your cake and eat and enjoy it too!