How often do you recognize the hard work that your body does for you? Remember a few of these lessons as you get older to gain a new perspective on what life is really about.
Last year, I had an opportunity to help elderly patients as a dietitian in a senior day care and in-house health care program.
Working with an elderly population gave me a newfound perspective when it comes to body image and health. Not only was I able to see just the lasting impact that the diet culture of our society has, but I also became more grateful for everything that a healthy body can do.
Here are some of the biggest lessons that were learned along the way:
1. Dieting and negative body image can be a lifelong struggle.
The number one thing that my patients asked for my help with was weight loss. Most of them were less concerned about their failing hearts and kidneys, or sky-high blood sugar. They were more worried about the way their bodies looked at 60, 70 and 80 years old.
Some patients had been dieting for 50 years or more, and were so terrified of gaining weight that they hardly eat anything at all despite being frail and weak. Years of chronic yo-yo dieting on top of old age have destroyed their metabolism, so no matter how little they ate, they still struggled with their weight. Unfortunately, there was little that can be done to convince any of them that eating too little may actually be the problem.
2. Bodies are amazing.
Seeing how much your body can change as you age will make you appreciate your own health. I am so thankful that my body gives me the ability to walk without a walker, to see with clarity, breathe without an oxygen tank, and eat delicious food! All of these are things that we tend to take for granted, but that not everyone has the ability to do as they age. Take care of your body and be kind to it, so that it keeps making these little joys possible. It doesn’t deserve negative talk or deprivation.
3. Bodies change.
Our bodies change as we age. Less muscle tone, more weight, some wrinkles. It’s all part of life and getting older. Some of my patients would get upset at me when I told them this truth. They just didn’t understand why they don’t weigh what they did in their 20s. Bodies change and adapt, and do what they are going to do. Learn to accept this fact and age gracefully, rather than making yourself miserable trying to fight it.
4. There is so much more to life than the way your body looks.
This thought hit me like a ton of bricks one day. When I am 80 years old, I want the ability to enjoy a full and wonderful life. I want to look back on the experiences, relationships, and memories that I can be thankful for. I don’t want to have spent my life worrying about a little extra fluff around the middle, or a number on a scale. That seems like such a waste of time compared to all of the amazing things life has in store! My grandchildren won’t care about how much I weigh, or what size pants I wear. They will remember me for who I was as a person, my accomplishments, and I how I made them feel.
At the end, that’s what really matters.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: JAKE THACKER
Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN is a Texas-based Registered Dietitian and food enthusiast who shares delicious recipes for those who seek a healthy, vibrant life. By focusing on nourishment without giving up the joy of good food, Kaleigh helps others attain a balanced, wholesome approach to life that brings people together. Learn more about Kaleigh and visit her at Lively Table.