21 Day Fix from a Passover Perspective

Rachel shared her blog post with me and I wanted to share it with EVERYONE as quickly as possible. She addresses a universally important topic- how we as women speak about our bodies and the damaging domino effect- that is relevant whether you celebrate Passover or not. Read it, re-read it, and share it. The original post can be found here

No More Egypt
It’s a mere few hours to go before Pesach begins, and I have just spent the better part of the day cooking and cleaning and otherwise engaging in last-minute preparations. I’ve made a bunch of nutritious meals and snacks to get me through at least part of the week, and I’ve also been mentally preparing myself for the two seders ahead–spending hours around a dinner table packed with people, even when they’re people I love, is not this introvert’s idea of a blissfully good time. But I’ve worked hard to be ready for Pesach this year, and I feel prepared. I can be in the moment. I can enjoy people’s company. I can stay up late and it will be fine. And, I can eat whatever I want, because I’m in a place where I can do that.

So all things considered, I’m feeling pretty good…or at least I was, until I signed onto Facebook (I know, probably a mistake) and came face-to-face with a friend’s status update, which (through text and photos!) outlined her latest achievements in the “21-Day Fix.” Now, this isn’t a new thing–obviously, I’ve been seeing posts like this for 21 days–and I have tried hard to react to them in the best way I know how; mainly, I ignore them. I mean, I love this friend of mine and I am happy for her that she’s feeling good in her body and all of that…but, really, enough is more than enough.

It continues to blow my mind that so many women buy into the entire concept behind the “21-Day Fix” phenomenon. First of all, ladies, are you broken? What is there to fix, really? You are fine the way you are. And if you feel you’re NOT fine the way you are, might I suggest exploring that feeling a bit further and seeing what’s behind it, before jumping onto the “quick-fix” bandwagon? Usually, when we feel negatively towards our bodies, it’s not our physicality that needs fixing…it’s our way of thinking about ourselves. How about spending 21 days working on fixing that?

Additionally, it strikes me that our culture is so acclimated to body dissatisfaction and weight-shaming that it is considered not only normal, but actually admirable, for people to continuously post intimate details and images of their workouts, diets, and attempts at body transformation on social media. I mean, it actually frightens me. What kind of social environment have we created, here? It’s not helping with the whole, “female respect” thing (I acknowledge that this affects men, too, but in my experience the worst social-media offenders are overwhelmingly female). Do we actually want to be perceived as having nothing better to talk about than food, weight, and body? Do we truly want our bodies to be the first (or only?) things that other people think of when they think about us? Furthermore, can we honestly say that we want our children, students, etc. to inherit the current norm of being totally preoccupied with “fixing” our bodies? If the answer to those questions is, “no,” then we have to start changing the culture in which we operate by not adding fuel to the body-shaming fire.

I recognize that this post sounds a lot like a rant, and I suppose it is…but it comes from a place of frustration with the sensation of “swimming up the cultural stream” that I so often experience in recovery. I am tired of working so hard to have an intuitive approach to eating, and a loving relationship with my body, only to have it made harder by the societal pressure to go the other way. That’s one thing I wish everyone who puts their diet updates on social media would understand: that by broadcasting their “successes” with the latest diet and exercise fad, they are actually making it harder–not easier–for other women to accept their own bodies.

Luckily, though, this unfortunate experience on Facebook happened to me on Erev Pesach, and after stewing about it for a few minutes, I remembered what this entire holiday is about: freedom from our “narrow places,” and liberation from whatever it is that enslaves us. At that point, I had two choices: 1) Judge myself unfavorably in comparison to this friend of mine, and consequently restrict my eating at the seders; or, 2) recognize that my recovery is about being free from all of that craziness, and therefore grant myself permission to eat what I want…and enjoy it, without guilt. I have put in my time worshipping the god of thin-and-fit, and I’m done with that. I don’t have to try to manipulate my body; I get to love my body by eating normally, exercising naturally, and–yes–enjoying treats without compensating for them. It’s a better, freer way of life, and I’ve worked hard for it. So, this Pesach, no more Egypt for me…or, I hope, for any of us. This year, may we be truly free!