The largest organ on our body is the skin. Its protective layers guard our muscles, bones, internal organs, and ligaments, while its active function results in the most fundamental of our five senses – that of touch. For all our focus on maintaining optimal organ function through diet, exercise, and lifestyle, could it be that we’re neglecting the organ that figures most prominently in our daily, direct communion with the material world?
I know that it’s awfully easy for me to go several days without real, meaningful physical contact with another human when I’m on the road promoting the book or giving a talk. Oh, sure, there are handshakes and incidental shoulder brushes and maybe even the occasional fist bump, but it’s not the same. I miss my wife and kids. You can’t exactly hug total strangers (nor would you really want to) or even business associates. When I’m away from my family and close friends, I realize just how ubiquitous our self-made, imaginary personal bubbles have become. We all walk around with them. This world is getting more crowded every day, and yet we’re somehow able to maneuver through it without so much as touching a single person unless we’re crammed into a train or city street. And still, even in those situations, people are loathe to make contact with one another, even ocular, and we manage to avoid most of it.
Imagine a world where you could stroll into a clinic, spend fifteen minutes reading a magazine while a doctor’s assistant points a bizarre contraption at your backside, and skip out the door, down a few thousand bucks and twenty pounds lighter. Provided you had the money and the extra weight, would you do it? Would you be willing to take the ultimate weight loss shortcut? With less invasiveness than liposuction and fewer complications, it would be tough to say no. Just make sure you save money for new pants and a new belt on the same trip.
Although I haven’t read the book (Eat. Repent. Repeat.), it’s a concept we’re all familiar with. People eat something they know they shouldn’t, self-flagellate and run themselves ragged on the treadmill in penance, only to find themselves in the same boat a few days (or hours) later. Not much of a surprise on that one, is it? I’ll admit I’ve never understood this game, but I see it for the self-perpetuating cycle that it is: an endless rotation of escapism, guilt and punishment. Why do so many people insist upon this transgressive model of eating? And, why, for Pete’s sake, do they think raining retribution on themselves is any way to get back in the saddle?
Regina Benjamin, the United States’ 18th Surgeon General, is markedly overweight. She’s a highly trained physician who famously set up a medical clinic for Alabama’s poor hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina, and she’s unquestionably knowledgeable and experienced, but she’s also overweight. Does this negatively impact her role as the public face of health? Does her weight detract from the message?
Or take countless nutrition experts that fit the mold of the dietitian featured in this video? She’s educated, has dozens of books on nutrition and healthy cooking under her belt and, at least on paper, looks like an authority of sorts. But her physique (saying nothing of her healthy eating tips) doesn’t exactly instill confidence in her recommendations (as readers noted in the forum).
On the other hand what about someone like Jillian Michaels? Strong shoulders. Check. Trim waistline and ripped abs. Check and check. She must be doing things right? Right?
Yesterday I shared the desire to “look good naked” among my reasons for living Primally. A few readers seconded the logic. Though the point was in good fun, it wasn’t in jest. At 56 and counting, I happily take pride in my appearance. Although there’s a lot more to my life and self-confidence than appearance, I enjoy looking as dynamic as I feel. Although some might see the sentiment as vain, I’ll wholeheartedly stand by it. Although some might cry vanity at any focus on appearance (like my top ten admission), the wordsmiths say it’s more accurately “excessive pride” in one’s looks. But then, is one person’s perception of “excessive” the same as another’s? Is it a matter of kind, degree, or aim? We might balk at someone’s attention to perfect clothes or hair, but what about the same dedication to a great body?
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