That Darn Ad and the Mission It Created

I vividly remember how the obsession began. It was the first semester of my freshman year of college. I was looking through a magazine when I saw it. The full-page print ad depicted a woman wearing a gold top and black pants, midriff exposed. You didn’t see her legs. You didn’t see her face. You didn’t even see her boobs. It was all about that bare, sexy midriff. Now that I think about it, she may have been sporting a belly button ring with the Bacardi logo on it. But I didn’t care about the rum – I wouldn’t have my first real experience with alcohol for another few months. All I knew was that I wanted those abs.

Not that I knew how to get them. I wasn’t exactly raised in the most health-conscious, physically active family. Most of my childhood memories are built around watching Rainbow Brite and eating Kraft macaroni and cheese (spirals, of course). One year, while strolling my way through my middle school’s semi-annual mile “run”, I was so slow that by the time I finished, there was no one at the finish line to record my time because the bell had rung and classes had switched twenty minutes beforehand.

But the image of those slim – not even cut, just slim – rectus abdominis was planted in my brain, and it has been there ever since. Fast forward through four years of college and rowing on the crew team (with workouts so intense that I lost thirty pounds my first year even though I ate bacon and tater tots every morning for breakfast), another four years of figuring out who the hell I was while trying to earn a living, a graduate degree, and a first mortgage, and we arrive at the person I am today.

This person considers herself to be fat. She came back from a vacation to Washington state in October and found herself at her “scary” weight – 200 pounds – a weight she swore she would never, ever, ever allow herself to reach ever again. And yet there it is, blinking bright on the scale, even after checking to make sure the scale batteries were fresh.

Over the past couple of years or so, I have obsessed about nutrition and exercise. I have subscribed to Women’s Health and Self magazines. I have read all of those wonderful exposé books on the fast food industry and its various contributions to the downfall of American society as we know it. I’ve gone from being vegan for a month to vegetarian for three months to eating lean meat every couple of days. I know, in my soul, all the right things to do for my body. And yet I weigh 200 pounds.

I realized a couple of weeks ago that my obsession had turned against me. I had learned so much about how bad certain foods are that I saw them as poison. And, as someone who happens to be as obsessed with nutrition as she is with the Food Network and the overall magnificence of the culinary world, I still eat these “evil” foods from time to time. But what happens when someone eats something her body and mind consider to be poison? It turns against her and the guilt and negativity associated with that association begin to kill her. And worse than that, she stays fat.

And no amount of healthy eating or exercise will make you thin if every now and then you think you are poisoning yourself.

Forget the Bacardi abs. I will never have the Bacardi abs, at least not as long as I allow myself to equate eating a cheeseburger with slitting my wrists. This blog isn’t just about my own health goals, it’s about reminding myself and whoever stumbles across this page just how twisted and corrupt we’ve allowed ourselves to become when it comes to health and wellness. I’m going to use this blog to talk about anything that promotes true wellness.

We’re missing the big picture, folks. We’re completely missing it.

One Comment

  1. December 16, 2008

    I love that you are doing this, Elizabeth! You are fabulous and beautiful–inside and out! I look forward to reading your future entries.

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