You read a lot about fitness goals on social media these days. I love that we live in an era today when people are more educated than ever about the importance of physical exercise and eating healthy, but there’s another side to the phenomenon. Sometimes I’m a little worried about our mental health when I see how much our culture values “the perfect body” and beauty. You can’t escape the fact that our human bodies need exercise and good food to stay strong and healthy but at the same time we also need to be kind to ourselves to stay healthy.
Our culture values physical fitness and beauty so highly that it makes me wonder what the consequences of this ideal will be. You already hear people talk about “shaming over-weight people”. It makes sense to me that in a culture where we worship being “fit” we will start looking down on people who don’t fit into that ideal. If having “the perfect body” is very important to us we will naturally start hating our own bodies and the bodies of others who don’t measure up to that ideal.
Eating disorders are still something that only happen to a minority group of women in society but when you look at the percentage of women with eating behaviors that aren’t healthy the number gets a lot bigger. A big group of women in society have eating behaviors that are neither normal nor healthy but they aren’t “sick enough” yet to get diagnosed with an eating disorder. I feel bad for all the young women who have to grow up in this culture with such high expectations and so much pressure on them to look perfect.
I remember my own late teens and early twenties as a time when I was not at peace with my own body and did not have a very healthy relationship with food and exercise. I really hope that as more bloggers and journalists bring up this important topic and decide to become good role models themselves this negative ideal will slowly start to disappear. We can’t only criticize the ideal, we have to decide to create a new more positive ideal that we follow instead.
I thought to myself “what could be a better ideal for me to follow than striving for “the perfect body” or “fitness?” I didn’t come up with any good ideas at all, but then I read a book called “Life is ____ .” by Judah Smith. One of the chapters in the book talks about Shalom and that’s when I thought “Yes! Shalom, that’s what I want!” The meaning of the word “Shalom” can’t be translated into one word in English, it means a lot of different things. Shalom means peace, tranquility, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, health and well-being.
I don’t want to waste one more year of my life striving for “the perfect body” or “fitness”. I want to strive for Shalom! I want to strive for both physical, mental and spiritual wholeness and well-being. This means that I will prioritize exercise and healthy eating but I will also prioritize time for rest, enough sleep, me-time, prayer time, time with friends etc. I want my wellness goal to be about more than just looking good on the beach, I want it to be about being whole as a person.