It’s no secret—Chris Christie is a big guy. His weight and health have been center stage since his name was bandied about during the Republican primaries in 2012.
Just last week, Christie appeared on The David Letterman Show and said, “I’m basically the healthiest fat guy you’ve ever seen in your life,” citing doctors who told him he was in good health. This created the usual backlash of online media telling us that Christie is unhealthy, a bad role model, even on the verge of death.
And the fact is, this buzz is just the most recent in the never-ending stream of media criticism of bodies in the public eye. From US Weekly magazine covers of celebrities with a few extra pounds to debate over parents who put their children on diets, everyone has an opinion about others’ bodies and whether others are healthy.
As a coach who deals primarily with food and body image issues, I find this kind of talk deeply troubling. Who are any of us to claim that we know what healthy looks like for another person? The beauty of bodies is that they come in countless shapes and sizes. Based on our genetics, our lifestyles, our medical conditions, what is healthy for one body may be drastically unhealthy for another, and vice versa. There is simply no way for anyone other than Mr. Christie and his own doctor to know for certain what he “should” look like.
I encourage all of us, in the face of the relentless adjudication that blankets Twitter, blogs, and magazines, to love instead of judge. If instead of examining others and trying to diagnose what we think are their issues, what if we turned that energy inward in a caring, productive way? Instead of solving others’ “problems,” what if we transformed that time and thought into examining our own issues, be they mental, physical, or both, and dedicating ourselves to turning ourselves into the happiest, healthiest versions of ourselves?
So many of us (myself included!) fall into the trap of judging.
I totally admit, I cringed when Christie pulled out a doughnut and proceeded to eat it, albeit jokingly, throughout the interview. Having struggled with compulsive eating myself and the consequent health issues, I felt sad and even angry watching someone treat his body and health so poorly.
But, I also recognized that it’s simply none of my business how he runs his private life—there’s no way for me to know what’s going on in his head or what his doctors have told him. My assumptions about him come from the same internal voice that also harshly judges me. That kind of self-critique isn’t just unpleasant, it’s harmful.
How can we concentrate on the parts of ourselves we wish to shift or change and not judge ourselves? It involves a skill most of us excelled at as children but have since lost: observation.
As adults, we get in the nasty habit of attaching a story, label, belief, or judgment to everything we experience. Our memories and the pathways formed in our brain recall our judgment and belief about the experience rather than the authentic nature of the experience itself.
Observation is an art and a potent practice for joyful living, somewhat akin to meditation. It allows you to observe not only what is happening around you, but also to observe the thoughts and judgments that naturally arise. Being aware of them releases you from their power and allows you either to choose those judgments as your reality or to let them go.
So the next time you find yourself going down a media wormhole into the private lives and/or choices of celebrities and politicians, use this energy instead to observe your own life choices.
Instead of reading up on Jessica Simpson’s baby weight, use those fifteen minutes to:
- Meditate—clear your mental space to allow room for calm and personal reflection.
- Take a walk—around the block, through your office parking lot, into the woods if you’re lucky enough to live nearby.
- Write in a journal—the perfect way to actively and immediately shift your focus to something that does matter and over which you have a say (your own life!).
I promise you’ll find that you not only waste less time on the internet, but that you also understand yourself better, which inevitably leads to the kind of empathy that allows you to actually help others as well (instead of simply judging them). I wish nothing but optimal health and happiness for Chris Christie and for you. Take the time and energy to turn your focus inward and figure out what you, as the unique being you are, need to make dreams of fulfillment a reality.
Weight Release & Body Image Coach, Laura Fenamore, is on a mission to guide women around the world to love what they see in the mirror—one pinky at a time—so they can unlock the secrets to a healthy weight and start loving their lives as soon as possible. Having overcome her own battle with addiction, obesity, and eating disorders, Laura released over one hundred pounds twenty-four years ago, beginning her on a journey to guide other women to live more joyous, balanced lives. Laura believes that self-love and self-care is where the transformation begins. Learn more about Laura at OnePinky.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.