If you are a breathing, functioning human being, you’ve probably realized by now that our senses control us. Perhaps what I am about to reveal is a product of my own bias as a budding art historian, yet I believe that the sense of sight is the most unique in its power over our minds. I recognize that all five senses are equally important and interconnected, becoming the sum of our experiences (merci, Roland Barthes). Yet sight is different in its volatility, for how we perceive something can change depending on its context. Also, no matter how distant or proximate we are from what we are viewing, our other senses instinctively seem to know how to respond to what we see, for our bodies are capable of experiencing physical sensations without direct, tangible contact.

I am reminded on a daily basis, that the visual is so compelling that it colors our experiences, interactions, and decisions. Much of our assumptions and judgments about everything—people, dry-cleaners, neighborhoods, parks—are determined by how and what we are seeing signifies. Particularly when it comes to people, physiognomy is the only rule in the game of categorizing strangers.  Sight, although one of the most compelling senses, is the most deceptive one of all, for matter is in a constant state of motion and decay. Thus, in order to deceive others in the way that what we view deceives us, we find ourselves in a trap that the commercial world has prepackaged for us, and participate in the game of “let’s settle at nothing for the gain of physical perfection”. Yet we forget, perhaps on purpose, that humans age, joints stiffen, metabolisms become slower, wrinkles form, and our moneymakers start to sag. We age and we change. I guess the joke’s on us.

For those of you that know better, consciously taking care of your body is crucial for your well-being. Eating well, drinking water, exercising, moisturizing, sleeping, and applying sunscreen are all crucial. They are all we can do, really, as mere mortals, to ensure that we are truly living up to our potential—mind blowing, I know. Yet, it seems that the whole world forgets this at times.

Perhaps a personal anecdote is in order for the reader to understand. 2012 has been fundamental year thus far, in my own realm of narcissus. I feel that I have finally come to terms with the way that I look as well as the fact that I will continue to change and adjust. But shit, it took a lot of failed experimental diets, counting calories, and intake of obscure dietary supplements. And still, I wasn’t happy, nor did anything appear to drastically change. Yet, the moment my existence ceased to revolve around dieting and thinking about dieting, I became happier.

See, there is a difference between dieting and maintaining a healthy diet. The former consists of self-destructive and obsessive behavior concerned primarily with attempting to control certain parts of ourselves that are probably unchangeable anyways (genetics?). It’s too stressful, time-consuming, unnatural, and selfish. The latter is a responsibility that we owe to ourselves and a determinative in the quality of every aspect of our lives.

So my point in dragging out this post is to say this: stop dieting. Stop with the cleanses, the anti-carb mentality, and all the other alimentary related isms that spawn from the sole purpose of losing weight (vegetarianism isn’t a great way to skinny, it’s a lifestyle choice people make for medical, political, social, and/or cultural reasons). These are all trends and at the end of the day, they’re just that—trends. More importantly, they are futile attempts at trying to battle Time.

Now, I’m not admonishing the importance of portion control, moderation, and balance. In fact, anyone will tell you that I am a staunch advocate of eating well and conscientiously, for the axiom of “you are what you eat” holds true. I’m only encouraging instead of vying for the unobtainable, strive for well-being. Eat local, eat pure, indulge often, and do not confuse starvation for necessity. Learn to cook, make every restaurant visit a culinary privilege, courageously experiment with new types of foods, know where your food is coming from, and view grocery shopping as an adventure.

So often, we have the mentality that our daily rituals and practices must have an end game or a final goal. For example, I recently enrolled in my local gym and a trainer immediately asked me “so, what is it that you are wanting to work on?” I replied, “well, I don’t really know” because I didn’t. Like exercise, eating and food should not be determined solely by our drive for so-called physical perfection. Be kind to yourselves and enjoy the practice of eating, which is merely an action that is among the most natural and fundamental of human practices. I believe that enjoying the experience of eating whether by sharing a meal with a loved one or experimenting with various types of foods is the true meaning of a healthy diet.

Furthermore, my observations confirm the following with certainty—the second you start enjoying the experience of healthy living, the way in which the world and you view yourself will change. Most likely, your body will react positively to happiness and balance, and reflect in your skin and hair, your muscles and bones, and maybe even your belly. Thinking less about how to change your physical appearance in a certain way via dieting (most of them are pretentious and don’t work) will often lead to your body and mind achieving a beauty that does not need to battle, but instead has already conquered Time. You will become naturally energized by this mindset, resulting in more creative endeavors and productive behaviors that reach far beyond the shallow preoccupations of the myth called ‘physical perfection’.

We struggle with the idea of physical perfection because vision is so undeniably powerful and meaningful. Yet when we are wise enough to recognize that it is an idea that exists within a vacuum, we’ll start seeing beyond the tangible and thus cooperating with our natural needs. Only by remembering that the visual is often a deceptive interpretation of one’s existence, we can begin to embrace a higher existence. So please, stop dieting.