A healthier version…

Sunday, November 20, 2011 Permalink

A advertisement for a health insurance company is currently featuring on our television screens here in Oz, and the moment I saw it I knew there was a blog post in it. Another participant, Ruth from my weight loss program had the same idea and also mentioned it in her latest post. I think the ‘great minds think alike’ moment came about because the ad itself plays on viewers’ hopes and fears.

‘Find a Healthier You’ asks what you’d do if you met a healthier version of yourself.

I think the ad works because it isn’t preachy, rather it’s kind of sad and poignant. It’s not an overly obvious ad; for example, I didn’t initially realise that the featured characters were – in fact – meeting healthier versions of themselves (d-oh!). I also believe that the other endearing aspect of the ad, is that the characters’ healthier selves aren’t chest-puffing types, but rather nurturing… embracing their less-healthy selves.

I know that – because I’m 24-25kg less than I was six months ago – I am healthier than I used to be. I am most definitely fitter and, the last time it was checked, (although I’m still on medication) my blood pressure was almost normal. But I’ve still got a way to go. Interestingly in the past when I’ve allowed myself to daydream about a better version of me, or fantasise about a thinner me (as in my Genie post) my focus turns to the superficial (what I’d be wearing) as well as the psychological aspects… how I’d feel about myself; how I’d feel others would perceive me. Etcetera. But, it occurs to me the advertisement works without us peering into the souls of the healthier characters; and without any analysis of deep-seated neuroses.

So… today I decided to ponder on what a ‘healthier’ version of me would look like if I featured in the ad, and to do that I will – on paper (screen) at least – write my own television commercial.

Current me walks out of an office building at the end of the day. She’s got a nice new hair cut and colour (having dropped $255 Friday night at the hairdressers) but she looks tired. She’s devoid of makeup other than the remnants of some lipstick applied earlier in the day (she sweats the moment anything is put on her face, including moisturiser – although we don’t know this). She looks tired. She has circles under her slightly-puffy eyes and her skin is blotchy. (The script indicates that the character reflects someone who doesn’t eat as healthily as they should, occasionally overdoes the diet coke and wine, and doesn’t have a routine sleep pattern.) Our character is pulling at her shirt to make sure it doesn’t ride up and expose her hips and stomach. As she starts walking towards the train station she looks longingly in the direction of the ‘drop-off’ zone, where we see men and women being collected by loved ones at the end of the day. Unhealthy Schmiet shakes away the feeling of envy and sadness and continues walking.

But just then she spies someone heading to one of the waiting cars. Cue healthier Schmiet. Healthier Schmiet is smiling as she’s approaching a loved one (am thinking of casting Richard Armitage sexily leaning against some fabulous sports car!). Healthier Schmiet turns and her smile spreads as she catches sight of her less-healthy self. There’s no judgement, no disdain or pity. Just pure naked joy at seeing her. Healthier Schmiet’s complexion is glowing. Her skin is clear and she looks healthy (she obviously gets lots of sex!). Her eyes are bright and green. She is resplendent in a cool and summery dress and appears devoid of self-consciousness. She bounces towards unhealthy Schmiet and warmly takes her in her arms.

Tag - Life ImaginedWhat would she say I wonder? Perhaps had she met her 25kg ago she would say “What the fuck happened to you?” Or perhaps she would ignore her and look the other way, unsure of what to say or do, or how to act around someone who has ‘let themselves go’ so much. What would unhealthy Schmiet say? Would she emit a grudging, “You’re looking well,” all the while seething and feeling like the world truly wasn’t fair. Perhaps. I like to think unhealthy Schmiet would ask about her healthier counterpart’s lifestyle; ask her how she lives her life… to know that it’s doable and doesn’t mean forsaking everything that the unhealthy Schmiet holds dear.

I should remind myself I’m half-way (or even more than half-way) to healthy Schmiet. Some of my yet-untravelled journey is about the physical me – and the need to lose another 20 or 30 kilograms-  but some of it is about the mental and emotional stuff. I tend to  focus on the really superficial stuff – what I can wear, how I will look; rather than my health and how my body reflects my improved health. I know before when I’ve been super-healthy it shows in my face. I don’t always notice. But others do. And comment.

The ‘healthier versions’ in the ad aren’t all about weight. On closer examination they just look ‘brighter’; more alive. And that’s what I want to be.

7 Comments
  • Marion
    November 20, 2011

    In 2005, I went to a psychiatrist for depression. I went on meds for two months and gained weight from them. When he asked me how I was at the next check-up, I said, “Oh, much happier.” I had been journaling my issues and had resolved a bunch of problems. A few sentences later, I burst out with tears, “I gained weight!” He said, “You’re happier, right?” I nodded. He continued, “Well, health is not just about weight.” And this thought has stuck with me since then. There are so many aspects to health, not just weight.

    Deb, you can be what you want to be–and you don’t have to be slimmer to do it. Just be the way you want to be inside you and let it radiate outward. I’ve seen women, who aren’t very good looking, who walk and talk with radiance, and they are very attractive. Be how you want to be. More beauty comes from a twinkle in the eye than 10 pounds lost. <<my 2 cents.

    🙂 Marion

    • rockafellaskank
      November 20, 2011

      I think you’re right Marion. The loss of kgs (lbs) doesn’t necessarily equate to being healthier or feeling better. I think the thing I like about the advertisement is that it isn’t just about people being slimmer and being healthier, but they’ve obviously made the actors up to look more haggard and weary – it reminded me of some of the comments I’ve had about my face looking ‘brighter’ or me looking ‘less tired’ when I’ve been healthier!

      Deb

    • Michele @ Within Reach
      November 20, 2011

      You’re so right that it’s not just about the weight — the numbers. Health emanates from the insides, and eventually, the outside reflects what we’re doing on the inside.

  • Liz Nelson (@leanlizzy)
    November 20, 2011

    Hi Deb, I really enjoyed this post – and although know that there will be physical differences as a result of losing weight, know that internally you feel great about yourself irrespective of your weight. I think that makes the physical action easier.

    It’s all a bit of a conundrum really but at the end of the day (gosh I hate that phrase), it’s about what works for you!

    • rockafellaskank
      November 20, 2011

      Liz, I already notice I’m not struggling with the steps in my apartment as much, not as stiff and sore as I once was… so lots of benefits (other than the obvious ones) from what I’ve lost already!

  • Michele @ Within Reach
    November 20, 2011

    That ad is intense — actually caused a few tears. It’s precisely the kind of message that needs to be sent — one of love and compassion, not one of shame and degradation. The U.S. media could take a lesson from this one.

    • rockafellaskank
      November 20, 2011

      I agree Michele – I like that the healthier selves are kind and compassionate and accepting of their less-healthy selves!

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