Maggie goes on a diet?

On the news today there was a whole lot of controversy over this Children’s Book named “Maggie goes on a diet”. It’s a about a young girl named Maggie who is a bit chubby and over weight, and eats food to comfort herself. She is not popular at school and constantly teased at. She then decided to go on a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Later on she achieved her healthy weight and joined the school soccer team. She is well liked and people start to remember her by her name.

I have been wanting to talk about weight, look and popularity, especially when all my friends who haven’t seen me for a while now tells me how skinny I look, compared to my university years. Throughout my teenage and university years, I have never been skinny, always a bit chubby with a round baby fat face. I wanted to look like the other girls with nice figures and toned bodies, and have gone through being anorexia to being bulimic. The less I ate, the prouder and happier I was; it was a very vicious cycle that led me no where. Not only did I not get the body I want, I also messed up my digestive system and the balance of my body.

Looking back now, I realized I didn’t exercise enough, my eating habits weren’t very healthy, and I also had an unrealistic notion of how my body should look like. I only focused on what was outside, and didn’t care about my inner organs or how my body functioned as a whole. I also forgot that muscle weighs more than fat, so if you have a toned body, you will definitely weigh more than if you were just plain skinny. Focusing so much on how much I weigh was not the right way to gauge how healthy or how good I looked.

Since moving back to Vancouver a year ago, I have changed the way I live my life for the better. I do not own a scale or weigh myself every morning and night like I used to. I have also taken up bicycling to work everyday, and cooking all the meals myself. I only treat myself to eat out once a week on Fridays. I also keep my yoga practice going at least three times a week. After only a couple a month, I felt and saw the different. I was happier, my body was more toned, and I felt good about how I achieved everything.

As for the book, it’s great to tell children to choose healthier food choice and exercise regularly, but the premise of an over weight girl being teased at school turning into a skinnier girl who is now more popular makes it a bit hard to swallow.  We all have very different body types, and some people are naturally more chubbier or slimmer than others, which doesn’t make either or them more healthier. What we really should be teaching our children, and adults too, is that it’s not about being skinny, it’s about being healthy and having good eating and exercising habits.

So the fact is if you are not happy about yourself or have a positive outlook on life, then even if you did get skinnier and more popular at school/work, you will still not be truly happy. You need to do things for yourself, and not for others, for it’s your body that you live in, and conforming to a “social standard” won’t make you feel any better about yourself.  You will end up being one of the “popular kids” who teases and haunts others, whom you used to be yourself.

Here is my before and after picture, but I know that there is still a long way to go, and much to learn about my body. Being healthy is a way of life, and not just a diet you pick up along the route.  So please, choose a lifetime of healthiness, not a diet.

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