How we see ourselves is a reflection of a whole constellation of emotion and perceptions. While it may seem like a personal issue, our body image influences how we interact with others, both in our own self-esteem and attitudes and in the biases we exhibit in assessing the people around us. The pandemic has presented new difficulties in maintaining healthy habits and views of ourselves, so today we talk a little about why this is important and some things we can do to have a healthier perception of ourselves, inside and out.
In the race to success, we're not all starting from the same place. Level the Pursuit seeks to fill in the gaps and provide accessible bite sized leadership lessons for anyone looking to improve their skills and prepare for the next step. whatever that might be. Hello, peeps, welcome back. I hope you had a safe and happy Thanksgiving and you're gearing up for a reasonably distance holiday season, I celebrate Christmas, so my cheesy apartment is decorated with lights and a tinsel Christmas tree on the wall. But whatever holiday is near and dear to you, I hope you're prepared to make the most of it and to go out with a bang as we celebrate the end of the dumpster fire that has been 2020. Thanks for joining me, as I kick off the second season, I have some great new topics. And I'll also be joined by some fabulous new guests. So I know that you're going to love what we have to share, and we're all going to learn something. Today we're going to talk about body image. And you might be thinking, What does body image have to do with leadership? Well, I think it has a lot. How we see ourselves affects our interactions and our success, but it also colors the biases that we exhibit when we assess others. Having a positive image of our own bodies can help us be more positive in general. But it also helps us to cultivate healthy habits to model for those we lead. Over the next week, spend some time looking in the mirror. Do you like what you see? If you do that's great. Give yourself some gratitude. If not, take a moment to think about what you'd like to change, and why. So what is body image? body image is what we see when we look at our physical form. And it may be accurate, or it may be inaccurate, we may see what the mirror actually shows or it may be distorted by the ideas that we have the way that we've grown up, or just things that we see day to day. So why is that important to us. As a person, it's important because how we see ourselves in every way, affects the image that we put out to the world. It affects how we interact with others, it affects really the behaviors that we tolerate, and the behaviors that we accept from others in how they treat us. But as a leader, it's more complicated than that, because it affects how we lead and what we project on others. But it also affects what we see in our subordinates, the behavior that we tolerate, among and between them, and how we manage a work center. So because all of it has to do with so much more than just how we look. As a leader, a lot goes into our assessment of our subordinates and how we run a workplace. When we look at the people around us, we look at their height, their weight, their habitus, their eye color, their skin, color, their hair, their clothes, their voice, their accent, all of that stuff goes in together. And we may or may not exhibit biases from that. But we can especially if they're colored by our own internal biases, or how we see ourselves. It has been shown that people who are taller get paid more; people who are good looking are more likely to get hired. And you can see this in some of our work behaviors. People who are thin or athletic looking, and have tailored clothes are more likely to look competent and professional. If people are overweight, they may be thought to be messier or undisciplined. And they may be expected to have a jolly attitude, like they're Santa or something just because they carry extra weight. None of those things are fair, and they may be completely inaccurate. But there are absolutely people that glance at someone and they make those assessments. So as a leader, we have to be cognizant of that not only in our own behavior, but in how we allow our subordinates to interact with one another, we have to be aware of the projection of those negative images, we have to track where they're coming from, and be aware of which direction they're pointed. And when we see them in ourselves, they can affect how we interact with people who look like us, and how we interact with people who don't. And one of the worst things that can happen is that we can internalize a negative body image and then we can project that on others. So how do you know if you have a negative body image. Some of the things people will do if they have a negative body image is really focusing their attention on a flaw that they perceive. And it may be minor to other people, but it's not minor to the person that's experiencing it. It could be a bump on their nose, it could be the shape of their hips, it could be that their hair won't quite straighten whatever it is. People can be very fixated on these things. And they might seem like no big deal to everyone else, but it's a big deal to that person. People can view themselves as unattractive or even ugly. And that's a hard one. Because obviously, we're not all equally good looking, some of us really are better looking than others. I mean, I look at people all the time. And I think, Wow, it'd be nice to be that pretty. But it's, it's more than that, it's not being able to accept a compliment, not being able to recognize when you do look your best. Some of these people will fear others will see their deformity, or or whatever they perceive as their deformity, so they will try to cover it up, either with makeup or clothing or the way they act, or the way they position themselves or maybe turn their head and photos, things like that. But it can even go further. And they can refuse to interact want to stay home not want to interact with people. Often that people that have this type of image of themselves, will come across as actually being self centered or vain, because they're constantly checking to see how they look maybe looking in the mirror a lot. But a lot of times it's not to admire, it's actually to see that their flaw is covered or that they're trying to hide it from the people around them. These people may compare themselves with others. And I think we all do that, to some extent, right, we all look at someone and think I'm taller, thinner, or shorter or fatter, whatever that is. But it's more than that. It's it's to their detriment, and it's comparing yourself with ideals that we can every I mean, if you're looking at Instagram models, and, and people in magazines, those people are airbrushed and, you know, shifted, and they use all sorts of camera angles, and lighting and all those things. And that's just not real life, we can't, we don't look like that in real life. So if you're comparing yourself to those things, and expecting yourself to meet that ideal, that's not healthy for you. And then finally, people might pursue cosmetic surgery. And there's nothing wrong with having cosmetic surgery, having cosmetic surgery does not mean that you have either a negative body image or that you have a psychiatric disorder, lots of people that are totally normal and healthy, have cosmetic surgery, but it can be taken to an extent where it is unhealthy for you. And that's one of the things that plastic surgeons generally try to evaluate. And there are certain types of surgery that there's a quite a bit of psychiatric evaluation that goes forward to make sure that you are healthy to undergo that type of procedure. But in general, trying to continue to change things to fill that void can be unhealthy, especially if you've gotten to a place where nothing is going to fill that void. So what is the impact to us? What happens? Well, well, one of the things that we've seen in the pandemic is a massive rise in alcoholism, and disordered eating and self destructive behavior. And what does that mean? Well, a lot of people are home teleworking, or they've been laid off from their jobs, or their jobs are just on hold. So a lot of people in doing the right thing and staying home, they're sitting on their couches with nothing to do. One of the things that people do when this happens is they eat, both for comfort and out of boredom. And when you do that, over time, you can gain weight. Especially because the foods that give most of us comfort in the foods that we eat or bored or when we want to be entertained are not exactly the healthiest food. No one says Wow, I feel so really down I think I'm going to have an apple. No, it's you know, a pint of Ben and Jerry's. So that is not ideal. And we're seeing that through the pandemic, calls to the National Eating Disorders hotline are up 70 to 80%. This is hitting people really hard, disordered eating can absolutely lead to negative body image and vice versa. And so what and when I talk about disordered eating, the main things I'm talking about are anorexia, which is when you don't eat, or bulimia, which is when you do eat, and often will eat a lot will binge and eat, you know, several hundred to several thousand calories at a time and then use laxatives or vomiting or excessive exercise to balance out those calories. And so neither one of those things is healthy. And there can be really, really dangerous to your body and taken to the extremes there significant health consequences. Eating disorders have the second highest mortality of any psychiatric diagnosis. They are so hard on your body. So the reason I wanted to talk about body image is not only because I think it's important, but also since the pandemic we've seen. There's been a rise in unhealthy behaviors across the country. And so these types of behaviors, they affect your professionalism and your leadership but they can actually affect your life. So what are some ways to improve how you think about your body if this is something you're dealing with? Well, the first is gratitude. And you guys know I really like gratitude. I'm grateful for where I am and the gifts I've been given. And so I'm you know, I encourage that in everybody but every day we wake up on the right side of the grass is a blessing. If you can chew your food, if your brain is working inside your head, if you can get up and put on your shoes and walk around all of those things, if you can do any or all of those things, that's something to be grateful for. So you can start there. But also, I bet you there's more, do you have good hair? Do you look great, and that certain pair of jeans, do you feel super good in the color blue? Find those things and be grateful for them. If someone in your life tells you, you look good. Be grateful for that. When they when they say it, say thank you, and internalize it. Don't argue, don't tell them why that you don't look good. Just say thank you. The next step is starting to increase the positive habits that you have in your life. And that can be across the board. You don't have to be on a super vegan diet, you don't have to run five miles a day. But treating your body as though it's important to you, because it's the only one you got. And feeding it good nutrition. And moving it around every single day are things you should absolutely do. With or without a pandemic, you can do those things, choosing to put good fuel in your body is important. Now, if the pandemic has just rocked you, and everything about your body is a mess, right now, maybe you pick one thing. Now if you're a cold turkey person, and you're gonna do it all, that's awesome. But maybe, maybe that's not you pick one thing that you want to change, get a little bit more movement, get a little bit more water, drink a little bit less alcohol, or eat a little bit less processed food, whatever, whatever works for you. Maybe try one thing at a time. But start to incorporate those positive habits into your life. You can also do meditation, stress management, read, expand your mind all of those things. Because all of those things go in together. We're talking about body image, but how you think about yourself in general is going to color that if you wake up in a good mood, it's hard not to be at least a little bit happy with what you see in the mirror. So start there, whatever it is for you. If you need baby steps, take baby steps, but get it started. The next thing is to avoid focusing on negative images and negative thoughts. And social media is a huge thing for this. So if you spent a lot of time on social media, and it makes you feel bad about yourself stop, I'll tell you, I think I've told you before, I have the parental timers on my phone so that my apps greyed out because otherwise I'll spend far too much time on social media, which just is not good for your brain, it's not good politics is was making me crazy as well. So if you're spending time on that, and it's making you feel bad, and you're feel like you have to live up to this imaginary ideal, stop, stop doing it. If you hang out with friends that are always encouraging you to do bad things or, you know, incorporate in your bad habits, maybe spend a little less time with them. I'm not saying cutting these people out of your life if they're your friends. But if you want to change your behavior, you have to start somewhere. And the flip side of that is if you have positive things in your life or positive influences, spend some more time with them. When a negative thought comes into your head, acknowledge it, and then let it go by-- don't ruminate on it. Don't sit there thinking about it, when a positive thought comes in your head, spent some time appreciating this positive thought. And then again, let it go by dwelling on either one of them isn't really particularly helpful. So spend some time with the positive ones, but then let them go as well. And as I mentioned, your environment and the people around you absolutely affect. We talked about how they affect your success. But when you're talking about health behaviors, oh my goodness, if your friends all want to sit on the couch, eating Doritos and playing games all day, that's what you're going to do. If your friends want to go for a bike ride on Saturday afternoon, you know, that's cool, do that. Get out and get moving, get some vitamin D if you can, the sunshine is good for you. So again, you're not supposed to cut everybody out of your life just because they don't have the habits you want to have. But you have to if it's hard for you to change them, you have to give yourself a little grace, understand that you're not going to necessarily go against the tide all the time. And so try to surround yourself by people that are going to support the good things in your life. Okay, so let's talk for a second about weight. Now we've been talking about this to some extent with with respect to weight, but you need to understand there's currently a movement in our country, which I think is wonderful, that's basically around loving the skin you're in. Not feeling self conscious about having a couple extra pounds, having stretch marks or having cellulite and things like that and that is wonderful. You should feel good about your skin that you're in. All of the things that life has is giving your body the gifts and scars It's giving your body You should be proud of what you've been through and what you've accomplished. There's no question about that. However, if you are carrying more weight than your body is meant to carry, and we're all a little different, there are health consequences to that, and you can't deny that. So what I mean by that is, whatever size you are, say you're meant to weigh 170 pounds. And that is your healthy spot. And you maybe you have a couple extra pounds and but you're getting exercise, you're eating pretty good, and overall, you feel great, then that's a good weight for you. If you carry 50 extra pounds on top of that, even if you're still moving around a little bit, you're still eating pretty healthy, the health consequences are not the same. carrying extra weight puts you at risk for things like metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes, it increases your risk of cardiovascular health consequences. And as an orthopaedic surgeon, where I see it is it crushes people's knees and feet. And you really see implications to that. Additionally, if you have to have a surgery or procedure, if you are overweight or obese, your risk of complications is higher. This isn't a judgement, it's science, it's facts. When we look at the numbers, the risk of something bad happening, if you are overweight or obese is higher. That is not to say that we all have to be a size two, we're not meant to be a size two. And I'm not saying that in any way. I'm saying being the healthiest you that you can be, but recognize if you are not the weight that your body was meant to be. Biologically, I'm not talking socially, I'm not talking about whatever that looks like I'm talking biologically, if you're carrying extra weight, then you are at risk for certain health complications. The same thing goes if you are significantly underweight. If you are malnourished if you carry too little muscle, if your body is not working efficiently, you are at risk for certain health consequences. So this is not a commentary on what we're supposed to look like. or the fact that you should be shouldn't be proud of however you look, however, be the healthiest you can be be active, put good fuel in your body move, because all of those things are positive for you. And when we talk about body image, especially in the military, one of the things I used to tell my people is, I don't expect you to be a size two, I don't expect you to have a 28 inch waist, I expect you to be healthy and meet your fitness requirements and be able to pass your fitness test any day of the week. But when it comes to professionalism and image, that is part of how we judge and excel in the military is looking professional in the uniform. So if you bought your uniform 20 pounds ago, then I'm not saying you need to lose 20 pounds, you have to decide that if you're healthy and happy and you're able to meet your meet your fitness requirements, then I got nothing to say about that. But you should wear a uniform that fits. You need to wear something that flatters whatever you are carrying right now. Because not only does making sure that you're proper in squared away, meet the intent, but you also feel better about yourself. We don't have to be a size two to look good in our clothes. But wearing clothes that fit us properly makes almost everybody look like a million bucks. So it's just something to consider. If you're not where you want to be, then you can still look, act and feel like a professional. So it takes some time to do that. If you are where you want to be where you want to be, then that's great. Again, make sure that whatever you have your clothes, as a professional, as a leader, make sure your clothes fit you properly. If you've lost a bunch of weight, if you gained a bunch of weight, go out and make sure that you have your stuff tailored and fit you properly so that you look like the professional that you feel like on the inside. Because that will make you feel better. And that will absolutely affect the image that you project to others. So all of these things put together this is about body image. It's about health, but really, it's about how we see ourselves in the image that we want to put forward. We're not all the same, which is awesome. That's what makes our country so amazing. And we're not all meant to be the same. We're not all meant to be the size, same size, same shape. But we can optimize our health, our movement, our nutrition, and how we project ourselves in order to make sure that all of the good things that are happening inside us are what we project out to others. And when we do that, they will not only be more likely to treat us that way. But we'll be modeling good behaviors for the people that we're trying to lead. And that's really important. So this week spent I'm looking in the mirror. If you're happy with what you see, that is awesome, you still might look at your habits and make sure you're happy with all of those and maybe look at your wardrobe and make sure everything fits properly in the way that who you are right now. If you're not happy with what you see, that's okay, too. But think a little bit about why you're not happy. Is it something that you need to change because you're concerned about others? Or is this something you want to change because of your health or your goals. If it's for you, then it's probably worth looking at. If it's not, then it still might be, but spend some time thinking about whether or not that's worth it to you. And then look at your habits. Maybe it's one at a time, just making baby steps and working your way towards your goal. Or maybe you're a cold turkey person that wants to just change your whole lifestyle. The pandemic is a great opportunity to to try. Remember, it takes 21 days to change a habit. So if you fall off a couple times, that's okay, get back on the horse. But whatever you decide, know that you have to put good things in your body, because it deserves it. And you have to move every day. Because you deserve it. And you have to think of yourself as a strong, vital, intelligent professional. Because you are. That's been our discussion of body image on level the pursuit. Thanks for joining, and I look forward to your comments. If you like the discussion, please give it a like or subscribe. If you didn't, please comment with what I can do better. Next time, we're going to talk to Dr. Eric Speight, who's a fantastic individual and has a great story to tell. I won't give away too much today, but we'll talk to him and we'll hear what he has to say next week. Don't forget to spend some time looking in the mirror and seeing if there's anything that you want to change. If there is then make sure it's for the right reasons and then make a plan then head over to www dot level the pursuit.com to share your insights and your successes. I can't wait to learn from your thoughts. Thanks again for joining level the pursuit. Well, we can't choose where we start. We can choose our dreams and how we pursue them. Remember, success is a team sport and there's room for all of us to achieve our goals. So be a good leader. Be a good follower and do something great