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The Charm of Imperfections

The Charm of Imperfections

My friend whom we’ll call Missy is a true Halloween fan. After she went to the Farmer’s Market to find a few pumpkins to decorate her porch with, she was all giggly to tell me that she had bought more than twice as many pumpkins as she had intended. “I couldn’t help myself”, she said. “I love them all! I wanted a long one, a round one, and a fat one. I like the big ones and the small ones. I also thought a bumpy one would be funny. I couldn’t decide, and so I came home with 7 different ones – each more fun than the next!”

As I listened to her enthusiasm, it occurred to me that while Missy gets excited by different pumpkin shapes, she’s trying to make her body fit in a very precise mold. She’s been giving herself a hard time for the last 10 years because she thinks she should lose 10 pounds. Missy isn’t the thinnest lady on the block, but she isn’t overweight either, and so there is no reason for her not to appreciate her own figure the way she appreciates the various pumpkin shapes.

Interestingly, I am at the Green Spa Network Conference this week, where a very similar message was discussed yesterday. Presenter David Oakey talked about the need to move away from synthetic beauty, and learn to see the charm in imperfections. Sound advice, but easier said than done.

Determined to find a solution that would help Missy do just that, I called my partner in crime Kathryn about it. Here’s the research results she found:

  • Physical exercise promotes a positive body image
  • Eating foods perceived to be unhealthy negatively affects body image.

This is no surprise to me, but it’s always good to find yet more validation that our food, mood and exercise habits are so intimately related. But where’s the tip for Missy in all that – other than the same old “move more and eat better?”

Start a health journal. Paying attention to all the healthy choices you make each day will help you see yourself in a more positive light, and feel capable of more. And in my experience, feeling that you already do a lot of things right is a much better motivator than dwelling over your less-than-glorious angles.

So try it out, and let me know how it goes. If you like this idea, make sure to also check out Create Your Health Manifesto on p. 26 of our book.

  • This reminds me of the book “Freak Factor” by David Rendall. He encourages people to be successful by focusing on the things that make them unique as opposed to trying to be more homogenized and normal. Naturally, the challenge is to find the right balance so you don’t wind up accepting in yourself things that are not healthful and that could be changed while not getting hung up on minor imperfections that everyone has. I like your advice for Missy because you help her to accept her physical differences while still encouraging her to exercise for the psychological benefits. Well done!

  • Thanks for the feedback, and for the book recommendation, Jeremy! I’ll check out Freak Factor – sounds like a good read! 😉

MJ Shaar – in 20 seconds

MJ is one of the most sought-after experts blending positive psychology and health promotion. She spent over 15 years coaching, teaching, speaking, researching and testing smart health habits. Marie-Josée Shaar received her undergrad at McGill University in Organizational Behavior, followed by a Master of Applied Positive Psychology at University of Pennsylvania. She's certified as a Wellness Culture Coach, a Personal Trainer, and a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant.

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