Which Wolf Are You Feeding?

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, March 01, 2017
By Todd D. Giardina, PH. D
Coral Gables Counseling Center

Today, our team from the Coral Gables Counseling Center participated as part of the “Southern Smash,” an event where literal scales are smashed as a statement about the dangers of pursuing unhealthy weight and body image in women. There is a real lesson about mindfulness here – being mindful of your dietary habits and movement patterns, but also being mindful of the motivation behind such choices. If they are even conscious choices at all!

Ask yourself, do I have a healthy relationship with my body, my weight, my size and my shape? Whether the answer is yes or no, the second round of questions is more important: Why do I believe this? What is my rubric against which I compare myself? What is my standard for personal health and beauty? Knowing the source material, the origin story, may affect the motivation to pursue weight and shape goals, be they objectively healthy or not.

My hunch is that the most prevalent responses to the above field of questions would be “media” and “peers.” The celebrities you follow on Snap or Instagram, the shows you watch, the magazines you read, all the way down to your circle of friends – this is where most people (particularly women) find their standard for beauty and weight.

And the media is particularly conflicted, even polarizing, at this point. There are campaigns touting women of all shapes and sizes, there are now dolls with stretch marks and varying figures – and yet there are also women famous for their exercise and makeup routines, alongside internet shaming and bullying for having a little extra skin or sag here or there.

So back to the mindful piece.

There is a story of an old man who told his young grandson that we each have two wolves inside us, doing battle. One wolf is mean, bitter and bad. One wolf is kind, hopeful and good. The young boy asks, “which one wins the battle?” The grandfather responds “the one you feed.”

We must be mindful and vigilant as to what messages and images we “feed” our minds. There is an inner conflict as to how to be and who to be, with society and media and friendships tugging and sniping at both ends.

But if you devour positive information, or at least notions that are realistic and attainable, you are likely to face less distress. And if you choose to pursue a health goal that is more stringent or requires struggle, consciously ask yourself “What is my motivating factor for this diet and exercise plan?” (Hint: the correct answer is for positive health purposes).

Because the truth is, there is a time and a place to measure your weight, to focus on your body, to make lifestyle change – blissful ignorance of facts is not what I propose either.

But an unhealthy obsession on size and shape is often unconsciously motivated, lacking in mindfulness…and further feeds the bad wolf inside.

Community Men’s Group
Led by Carolina Pataky
February 20, 2017 8PM – 9:30PM

Often in collaboration with other experts, Carolina’s mission for this group is to create a place where men can not only openly discuss their concerns, but adopt a new, richer understanding of the world around them. It’s a place for building trust, unity and authenticity. A place to break free and understand the limiting societal beliefs imposed on men. Through the sharing of ideas and experiences, we explore topics surrounding relationships, careers, transitions, life events, dating and sex. Complimentary.

Meets every other Monday at our offices.