It is ironic that I am the one writing the introduction to GeekMom’s “Health and Fitness Week,” because with all of the things that I can claim legitimate geek cred for, “health geek” is not one of them. I regularly indulge my salt and chocolate cravings, often drink half a carafe of coffee before heading off to one of my two sedentary part-time jobs, and like GeekMom Ellen, I like to stay up late and sleep odd hours. What’s more, I definitely don’t exercise enough: I always feel so serene and refreshed immediately after a yoga class at my local Y–and yet, that doesn’t translate into anything more than sporadic attendance. In the interim, my clothing shrinks and buckles.
Beyond a bit of clutziness, I have no excuse. I do not live with physical handicap like our bionic GeekMom, Judy. Nor do I have preschool children requiring constant attention like GeekMom Sophie. I just haven’t made health and fitness a priority. And yet: I want to fit into my “skinny clothes” in two months for the “Geek Family’s Guide to the Movies” panel at South by Southwest…
I know that lasting change happens slowly, one modification at a time. I’m currently making my way through former Prevention magazine fitness editor Jessica Cassity’s new “tip a day” book Better Each Day, and while I think it is fascinating to understand the science behind effective health and fitness regimens–while it is, for instance, really cool to know that studies have shown that “working out in a group may actually make exercise feel easier” or that “250 milliliters of beetroot juice is as effective at lowering blood pressure as one commonly prescribed medication,” I have trouble, personally, in practically applying that knowledge in such a way that I get off of my couch and out moving.
It is a (frickinfrackinbrickinbrackin) journey. In the meanwhile, as I work to amp up my activity level, I’m also trying to appreciate the way that I look today and take to heart the words of Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Newsom is the director of the documentary Miss Representation, a film that “exposes how American youth are being sold the concept that women and girls’ value lies in their youth, beauty and sexuality,” and in her most recent weekly action alert she says:
Often, when we think about health, we fall into conversations around weight and physical appearance (just browse the covers of so called “health” magazines). By focusing so heavily on our looks – especially in a media climate that celebrates such dangerous ideals of beauty – we risk neglecting our own true inner health and safety.
One of the first steps to addressing this is actually looking at the language we use to describe “being healthy.” Not just in our heads, but when talking with others. Something as innocent as a compliment – “you look skinny” or “you look great” – can contribute to this obsession with weight and looks.
This week’s action is simple: try avoiding complimenting anyone on their physical appearance for an entire week, including yourself. No conversations about losing weight or being pretty. Instead, tell the loved ones in your life how smart they are, how you admire their confidence or even just how happy they seem! Celebrate the talents and abilities of those around you without mentioning appearance.
By shifting the way we talk about this subject we can begin to shift the entire mindset around what it means to be healthy. This is the year we stop judging ourselves and others by what is in the mirror, and instead see in everyone the same potential for greatness.
I suspect, somewhere between complacency and cardio, self-acceptance and self-pity, I can learn to inhabit my personal health and fitness “sweet spot.” How about you, GeekMom readers? What healthy changes are you hoping to make in the new year? What do you feel you are doing right to keep yourself healthy, both physically and emotionally? Are there any health and fitness topics you’d like to see more of here at GeekMom? We’d love for you to leave your thoughts in the comments!
Andrea is a credentialed parent peer advocate from Long Island, New York who supports and educates families raising children with social, emotional, and behavioral diagnoses. She takes way too many photographs, is learning how to program, and really hopes that the aliens who find Earth first are the benevolent-helpful type...