May 14, 2009 by Jeanne Rust
I am continually impressed by how negatively women in our culture view themselves. I know, I know — this is what I do for a living — helping women recover from eating disorders and develop positive feelings about themselves and how they look. And, more importantly, helping them develop the attitudes that tell them that what they have going on on the inside is much more important than what's happening on the outside!
Recently in my local newspaper, the Arizona Star, there was yet another article giving the latest statistics on how American women they feel about their bodies. Everything in magazines talks about weight and looks — never about health. We have a big disconnect between body image and true physical condition.
In reality, female athletes are much better role models than supermodels. American women seem to undervalue fitness and overvalue looks. As we all know, about 60% of all Americans are overweight or obese. Half of adult women don't like their weight — even those with a BMI in the normal range. Only one third of adult women are dissatisfied with their physical condition, even though being overweight and sedentary are risk factors for diabetes and heart disease. A poll of 1000 women showed that just 8% of women ate the minimum recommended servings of fruits and vegetables (5 a day).
We don't see the damage that's being done inside our bodies. If you increase your fitness, but don't lose as much weight, you still have a lower risk of heart disease than someone who is obese and sedentary.
I personally believe in metabolic health — health that is determined by cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar levels — metabolic fitness, in other words. I know it's hard to think that everyone can learn to love their bodies and truly love and cherish themselves even if they're larger than what is supposedly fashionable, but with the right attitude and treatment, it can truly be a reality!!
I'd like for each one of you to look in the mirror in the morning and in the evening and say 10 times to yourself while looking yourself in the eyes: "I love myself the way I am. I am a confident, competent, successful woman."
Do this for 21 days, and you'll find that you're actually starting to believe it. It worked for me 20+ years ago!