I can tell you exactly where I was when I had my great body image epiphany.
I was standing on the white sand of Wathumba Creek (not in the creek, mind you, there’s irukandji jellyfish on that side of Fraser Island at Christmas). The weather was beautiful and the sea like a millpond.
I’d spent the morning being Bearhands’ deckhand. Hanging off the front of the tinny, using my under-employed muscles to grab hold of mangroves and check crab pots. It had been hard work and my arms and abs were sore. I was wearing an inelegant but functional ensemble - cap, fishing hat and board shorts.
My mate Susan and I were comparing shots of the day - the kids proudly holding fish aloft, the sea shining. She’d also snapped a few photos of me hauling pots. They were not shots that would grace the cover of a magazine, but in a moment of salt-assisted clarity I had an epiphany: I no longer cared what my body looked like, as long as it continued to be fit for purpose. I stood on that beach with a morton bay bug sandwich in one hand, a beer in the other and hoped that my body would be durable enough to allow us many more years of adventure.
Ten days later my first MS symptom manifested.
I've spent so much of my life - too much of my life - grabbing handfuls of flesh and frowning at my reflection in the mirror. This year I’ve changed my tune. I’m grateful that it’s proven robust enough to allow me to keep on keeping on. I no longer dismay at my tuckshop arms, now I’m thankful they’re strong enough to fit the sway bars on the caravan before our next family adventure.
Now I’m not a health guru or a body confidence coach. But I have two requests of you this year:
Recognise that your toxicity is only a measure of your self worth if you’re a jellyfish.
This time of year our Facebook feeds are filled with people flogging detox teas and diet dinners. The ads are designed to play on our insecurities. There’s money in thigh gap and cellulite and products with max or thousand in their name.* There’s money in shame. The hounding of “healthy” messages this time of year is a mechanism for funding a gazillion dollar business**. Plus your liver, kidneys and lungs are perfectly capable of detoxing your body without the aid of a $25 lemon drink.
Your very best body is a body that’s fit for purpose.
The very best body you can hope for is one that doesn’t limit you from doing the things you love. Everyone’s purpose is different. If triathlons or roller derby are your thing, then making your body fit-for-purpose is going to take considerably more effort than mine. Me? I just need to fuel my body with food that meets my body’s needs. More veggies. Less pre-chewed food***. More movement. Less grog and custard-filled pastries. More me. Less pressure.
So my dear friends, in the lead up to the new year feel free to take or leave my advice. After all, I’m just a bird who had a (pretty poorly timed) epiphany.
We’re returning to Fraser tomorrow. Wishing you (and me) a body fit for purpose and a 2017 devoid of jellyfish,
* products from my inbox spam: maxi milk thistle 35000, gardenia cambogia 1300, 2400W slim vibration machine trainer
** gazillion isn’t a real number, but if they can use impressive meaningless numbers ,why can’t we?