When busy chasing societal body image goals, it is tempting to forget your body type and damage your body and mind.
What’s your body type, you ask?
Well, I frequently think of William Sheldon’s body types (ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph) and the body types from Ayurveda (vata, pitta, and kappa) when answering this question.
For the sake of convenience and simplicity, let’s think of it in terms of small, medium, and large. There are people who are skinny like me. People with my body frame have to be diligent to gain weight and muscle—both of which I’ve done. Then, there are people on the opposite end of the spectrum who have to be diligent about keeping weight off. Finally, there are some people who pick up a weight and seem to immediately develop a bulging bicep.
There are people with wider hips, people with narrower hips, people with wide shoulders, people with narrow shoulders. Big bones and small bones. Tall and short. Big feet, small feet. Blue eyes, brown eyes, and green eyes.
Get the picture? We’re similar, but different—and what works for you might not work for me. That’s why developing fitness consciousness is so important.
So for men chasing bulging biceps or women chasing a perfect hourglass figure, take note of your body type and ask: does this goal fit with what I’ve been given? And then ask, what do I want to achieve with what I’ve been blessed with? And then ask if your goals are your own or cultural. Appearance-based goals are generally cultural preferences whereas goals about health and vitality are generally higher level thinking goals. (And health goals typically bring great appearance results.)
I suggest that the Greeks were onto something when they identified the now classic sound mind in a healthy body goal.
A sound mind is not one that is constantly critiquing and criticizing your appearance. A sound mind shuts off societal inputs that generally focus on the superficial and short term.
Additionally, a sound mind questions and evaluates societal ideals and if they are found lacking, they are discarded with impunity. So when a sound mind observes prescription medication like Ritalin being prescribed to young kids, or observes that people are relying on pills for health rather than habit change—a sound mind knows this is flawed and doesn’t get sucked into the trap.
Finally, a sound mind does not use body type as an excuse to be thin and weak or fat and soft, but rather understands their body type as a framework within which to develop a healthy and strong body, filled with vitality.
With more sound minds and healthy bodies walking and running around, the whole landscape will change. The market will adapt. We’ll have better food, better restaurants, and happier people. And who knows, maybe those superficial and short term societal ideals will become transcendent and sustainable.