Who’s the fat stranger in the mirror? OMG it’s ME!

Who’s that fat stranger in the mirror?

You have lots of choices.  There are 5 ways to measure body fat.  There are 4 female and 3 male body types (banana, pear, apple, hourglass, ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph, respectively).  From bands that track every twitch to apps that count every calorie to bio-electric-impedance scales to forks that admonish you to eat slower, we’ve become obsessed with metrics.  But there’s only one metric that matters, and if you’re like me you know exactly what that metric is.

The only metric that matters

I had all the high-tech bells & whistles, measuring everything from exercise intensity (level 9 on the elliptical – wow! – I’m almost ready for the olympics.-) to strength gains to calories consumed and burned to body fat.  I even had a personal trainer and a doctor telling me I was in great shape (I was paying them, of course) and doing exactly the right thing.  But there was one metric I was missing, the one for which there is no measure — happiness.

The fat stranger

It took a long, painful moment for the truth to sink in, and as it did I felt the pit of my belly sink.  I stared at the photo for an interminable moment, first wondering who the fat stranger in the picture could possibly be.  I even stared harder at the photo, as if the power of my gaze and my will could either make him disappear or transform him into “the real me”.  I actually looked away for a moment, hoping that when I looked back he would be gone.  But, there he remained – a fleshy, doughy, rotund blob who looked nothing like the guy I imagined I saw in the mirror every day.  There was no denying it – the fat stranger in the picture was me.

The Aha! moment

I’m grateful for that Aha! moment.  At the time I was confused because of all the measuring and reassuring from “experts”.  But now I see clearly – that’s exactly what all that measuring and reassuring is about – confusion, hiding, denial.  I see it so clearly now that the recognition of my own stupidity is embarrassing.

Fear and hiding

The truth is I was afraid and I was hiding.  Hiding behind metrics, hiding behind clothes, hiding by avoiding certain angles in the mirror.  I even diverted my eyes to avoid my reflection in windows.  I was literally afraid of my own shadow.

The philosophy of beauty

Philosophers have debated the meaning and purpose of beauty for millennia.  In Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man (1795), the German poet Friedrich Schiller tried to describe what we feel when we gaze upon a sculpture of a beautiful body.  As the philosopher John Armstrong wrote in Aeon, the experience of beauty teaches us something about how we should be.  Schiller’s point was not that we should try to look like that statue, but rather that we should seek to realize in ourselves the fusion of the drives embodied by the sculpture.  Beauty is not something external to us, it is something we feel.

Ask yourself…

How do you feel when you look, I mean really look (try no clothes and your worst angles), in the mirror?  Are you happy?  Do you love the body you see?  Happiness is the only metric that matters.

Imagine loving your body

It’s not your destiny to live your whole life inside a body you don’t love.  You can change your body.  The first step is to pierce the fog of denial.  Measuring is avoiding, buying more clothes for your body type is hiding.  So stop avoiding and hiding.  Decide what you want to change and start implementing a step-by-step system.  It’s not as hard as you think.  Before you know it you’ll be asking yourself, “who’s that lean, toned, agile stranger in the picture?”


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