Treat Yourself (To Something Other Than Dessert)
About a year ago, I wrote a post entitled Stop Teasing the Skinny Girl that received an interesting response. The idea of the post, and many of my posts, was that we should glorify, rather than discourage, healthy choices. Lately, I've been thinking about this idea again, specifically regarding the thought of loving yourself and your body. With the way the media promotes anorexic shapes and stick-figured women, the response of many has been to say things like, "Love your body, no matter your size" or "Live a little, treat yourself!" While I agree that promoting an unhealthy body image in conjunction with sexuality and happiness will never be the right way to go, I believe the opposite extreme can be just as detrimental to living a truly healthy lifestyle. I'll start by saying that I absolutely agree that you should love your body, no matter your size. Just as in any relationship, your relationship with yourself should be loving, and your devotion to taking care of your health shouldn't sway, even if the number on the scale tips farther in one direction. But, I do believe that making healthy choices should give you a right to feel proud of yourself and even, dare I say it, happier with who you are. I believe people often misconstrue these concepts when they say to love your body, and then glorify someone who is binging on dessert regularly for being "adventurous" or "living in the moment". There is nothing loving about treating your body badly through poor nutrition, a lack of exercise, and no sleep.
Our culture is obsessed with the idea of "treating" ourselves. Bad day? Go get ice cream. Good day? Ice cream! Girl's night? Ice cream. (Ice cream is my favorite dessert, so it'd be my pick). Of course I believe that dessert is 100% fine in moderation, but a big bowl of ice cream in moderation looks more like once a week, not once a day. Food is an amazing part of our lives. I love food, but I hate the fact that one of the only ways we think we can celebrate ourselves or nurse our wounds is through eating.
I've often been told that I need to treat myself and just enjoy life. The thing is, I just don't believe food is the only treat. I get as much joy from spending time with my friends, sans alcohol and ice cream, as I do with alcohol and ice cream. My friends are the treat. Exercising is a treat. Reading is a treat. Life can be enjoyed in more than one way, and it takes a mix of ways to create a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
I will absolutely say that, sometimes, food should be the treat that you celebrate with. One of my favorite memories with some of my closest friends is from being in Destin, FL, and eating literally two pans of half-baked cookie dough with ice cream. We laughed and ate until our stomachs could fit no more. I'm not saying that dessert isn't a great part of life, but it isn't the only great part.
Challenge yourself to celebrate your life by loving your body in a way that actually makes it better. The better your choices, the more you will have to celebrate.