The Phantom Five Defined: I have spent almost my entire life either planning to lose 5 lbs, in the process of losing 5 pounds or wishing I could lose 5 lbs, even when I had just lost 5 lbs. I would look in the mirror and think, “Hmmm, I look pretty good after losing 5 lbs, but you know what would make me look even better? Losing another 5 lbs.” This is not an exaggeration. This is my true experience, every day of my life, since I was about 8 years old.
Almost every other woman in my life modeled this behavior for me. Our bodies have always been a major topic of conversation. If the 5+ pounds were on our bodies, we talked about ways to take them off. If the 5+ lbs were not on our bodies, we were congratulated and probed for our weight loss secrets. I don’t blame the lovely women in my life for a second. Fat phobia and poor body image are deeply and painfully ingrained in our culture.
Like many of society’s ills, it can all be traced back to money. The fitness and wellness industry is massive and it preys on our insecurities. That’s not to say that all fitness professionals and nutritionists are terrible. They’re not. Many are lovely, supportive people, trying to enrich people’s lives and health while making an honest living, but the industry as a whole feeds our self loathing and brings us back again and again and again for diets and fads that simply don’t work.
This is really sad and has been a colossal waste of my time, but what is truly tragic is that I am far from alone. I cannot even fathom the amount of my life that has been lost thinking about that 5 lbs. Multiply that amount of time across most women in America and other western cultures and you have a staggering loss of talent and energy that could have been devoted to other pursuits.
The good news is that there is a growing group of women (and men too) who have had enough of this nonsense. They’re accepting their lovely bodies for the way they are and LIVING THEIR LIVES! I know that since I stopped thinking about my phantom 5, my mind is open to all sorts of other far more interesting things to obsess about. What a fantastic concept.