It is difficult to care for our family, friends or community unless we’re able to first care for ourselves. Recall the instructions on an airplane if the cabin loses pressure—the parent is supposed to place their own oxygen mask on before assisting the child. In that spirit, we invite you to consider and explore with us how we can better care for ourselves as stewards of our bodies, minds and spirits. This year, the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic Outreach Program will focus its efforts on exploring what it means to truly “care for” and “take care of” ourselves. This “self-care” includes everything from physical well-being to social and mental health.
With New Year’s resolutions looming over us, it’s important to discuss a topic that many people turn to when setting New Year’s goals: weight loss. New Year’s is the most popular time to start a diet or an exercise plan. But multiple studies have shown that these resolutions don’t stick, with as many as 90 percent of dieters gaining back more than the weight they lost. In other words, even if you keep your resolution for the entire year and lose the desired amount of weight, you’ll most likely gain it back after your resolution habits start to fall away.
Kathy Kater, LCSW, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment and prevention of the full spectrum of body image, eating, fitness and weight-related concerns, recently spoke in Cook County on this exact topic. She talked about some of the common body image myths that bombard our culture, especially our youth. In her opinion, we should focus more on who we are, letting how we look (including our weight and size) come second in importance. Long-term healthy body strategies (such as well-rounded meals and an active lifestyle) should be practiced instead of relying on dieting and fad exercise plans. She also believes that the eat, drink and be merry mentality ought to be replaced with a mindset of eating well, enjoying regular physical activity and accepting the body size that comes as a result of healthy habits. Simply put, assuming we’re making healthy food and exercise choices, we’d be best off satisfied with our natural body size.
Part of arriving at a point of satisfaction and appreciation for the body type we have is first accepting that everyone is different. We must stop comparing ourselves to our family members, our friends and coworkers, the world of Hollywood and beyond. We need to realize that healthy lifestyle choices will have varying results among us all. There is no right size and no wrong size. There are simply bodies, in varying sizes, doing their job of housing the real person, the part of each of us that truly matters.