Body by the Letter: A “TODAY” Anchor’s Words of Wisdom

For a number of years, I’ve been a dedicated fan of the NBC daily morning news program, The TODAY Show. In fact, as a middle-schooler, I can recall spending many mornings with my mom and sister seated at the kitchen table with Matt Lauer and Katie Couric‘s faces greeting us with their pleasant and often, witty banter. As the years passed, I wouldn’t watch the show as often as previously and for a brief period of time, switched to their competitor program on ABC. However, years later as an adult, I again switched, this time exclusively, to watching The TODAY Show. Throughout the past few years, I’ve come to truly love the anchors and the overall program. The messages and stories discussed on air are often inspiring, engaging and reach parts of me I often failed to recognize or acknowledge.

Savannah and Matt

Many of the anchors are filled with inspiring thoughts and pertinent knowledge, though as I laid in bed last night, unable to quickly fall asleep, I perused through my Facebook newsfeed and capturing my eye was one of the best messages I quite frankly have read in awhile. With that being said, I couldn’t let a day pass without sharing it with whomever may be reading at this moment. Perhaps you’ve already seen or heard about it, but if not, please take a moment, if you can, to read it, because the underlying message and premise of it is one that deeply resonates with me and could quite possibly resonate with you, as well.

The following (copied from the official TODAY Show website) is a letter drafted by current TODAY Show anchor, Savannah Guthrie, who is the mother of two children – almost 3-year-old Vale and an infant son, Charlie. The letter is to Vale, with Savannah sharing her words of wisdom in line with Love Your Body week, a series of segments regarding body love on The TODAY Show:

Savannah and Vale           Savannah and Family

My dearest Vale,

I’m writing this letter to you because we are doing a series called, “Love Your Body” week. I will confess just to you: That is something I have never been very good at doing. But I’m hoping I can teach you to be different. I hope that as you grow up, I can teach you to love and embrace the miraculous physical vessel that is carrying your magnificent heart and soul.

You don’t know this yet, but our society is pretty obsessed with body image. Before too long (it’s inevitable) you’ll be bombarded with images of perfection almost nobody can attain. If you’re like me, and so many women, you’ll be tempted to judge yourself, to compare yourself, to berate yourself, to doubt yourself. I hope somehow I can equip you to withstand this assault on your confidence.

I want you to love your body, not because of how thin or tall or pretty you may grow up to be, but because it is truly a miracle. God made you; you are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as the famous old scripture says.

It is only natural to care about our physical appearance, and I’m not idealistic enough to think I could prevent that. But when you think about your body, let’s think not about how it looks, but about all the things it can do. Let’s think about your strength and your endurance. Let’s be unendingly grateful for your good health and never take it for granted. Be kind to your body, respect it and treat it well — this is the only one you’ll be getting.

And just so you know — you are, in fact, quite beautiful. I love your crazy golden curls, your gigantic blue eyes, your sweet cheeks and that super-wattage smile that lights up the world. But what is most lovely about you radiates from your inside out: your joy, your brightness, your warmth and your irrepressible spirit. That is why I’m so very proud of you.

Love,

Mom

Savannah and Family 2

As I read this letter, countless sentiments and emotions were summoned inside of me. How desperately I wished I could have read this letter years ago, as a vulnerable teen trapped in a word of self-pity, judgment and failure to feel as though I was “enough.” So often, it is true that we focus on what our bodies look like instead of what they can do, or what they are capable of doing. Sometimes, when I find myself in the midst of judging my appearance, I try to think of all the ways my body is able to support and carry me. My arms allow me to lift Oliver, my elderly dog up the stairs from outside; they allow me to lift my niece out of her high-chair, or onto my lap. My legs carry me from place to place and allow me to help open doors for others who cannot. In so many ways, my body has helped me and though I often take it for granted, or tend to focus on the way it appears on the outside, how important a message to be reminded, by Savannah, in this letter to her daughter. Everyday, I wish for others who may be younger than me, the same age, or even older or unborn, for peace with their bodies; for the ability to see their body for all its strengths and capabilities rather than fixating on the outward appearance and the supposed “flaws or imperfections.”

Reading Savannah’s letter, I wished nothing more than to keep it beside me, for easy reference, during those difficult moments in time when I feel “less than enough,” or harshly critical of myself. “Everything can be beautiful when you stop looking for flaws.”

Love Yourself quote

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A Cryptic Attack: The Importance of Prevention

Each morning, I follow a fairly simple routine. It truly is nothing out of the ordinary, at least not me, and it is one I’ve come to adapt to. Both during and after breakfast, NBC’s The Today Show is my companion. Throughout the course of several years, I’ve come to know the hosts, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer, Dylan Dreyer and Al Roker as though they are my close confidantes, turning to them for both breaking and lighthearted news. Their interactions, true passion for journalism and news is captivating and leads me to trust to them, turning to them for a daily synopsis of the latest happenings.

With that being said, I took note of the commercial airing last night as NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt, briefly detailing the exclusive live interview set to take place tomorrow (this morning) with Bob Harper, the renowned personal trainer, star of The Biggest Loser, and frequent guest on talk shows such as The Rachael Ray Show. While I’ve never been that much of a fan of Harpers, his recent heart attack caught my attention. When I first learned of his heart attack, I was in shock and disbelief. How could someone so fit, so into health and fitness, with such knowledge and awareness suffer something as potentially-devastating and life-threatening as a heart attack? Often times, as you are probably aware, when hearing of a heart attack, it is quickly attributed to poor health and eating habits, weight or obesity, perhaps family history, lack of self-care, etc. Of course, with that being said, naturally, there are an assortment and vast array of other contributing factors not related to any of the aforementioned risks.

Bob Harper photo             Today show

This morning, I watched the interview unfold between Bob and Savannah Guthrie, captivated as he spoke and detailed his experience, suddenly collapsing mid-gym workout. Though an interview, it felt much more like a conversation between two acquaintances or friends detailing one’s life-threatening episode and experience. During the interview, Harper stated this was his first time publicly recounting all he’d been through and though he has no recollection of that particular day, he stated that he was told it was how the day all unraveled. To his benefit, shockingly numerous doctors just so happened to be working out at the same time as his collapse, ultimately saving his life with the assistance of the defibrillator, thankfully on-site at the gym. As he spoke, tears began to build in his eyes, overcome with emotion and gratitude. He noted that he was “on that ground dead, with nothing more than a 6 percent survival rate.”

Bob Harper photo 2

As it was to countless of others throughout the world, Harper was nonetheless stunned by his sudden heart attack, coming without warning. Looking back, however, he stated he recalls dizzy spills in the weeks leading to the heart attack. During the interview, he issued imperatives statements to those watching, “It was hugely shocking for me, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned a lot about the fact that genetics played a part in this. It is so important to know your health.”

For me, hearing about how important it is know one’s health and to really take note of the feelings, both physically and emotionally one experiences, truly resonated with me. There is nothing more important, in my mind, than paying attention to one’s body, no matter how subtle those “signals” or “feelings,” may be. In my mind, it is always worth it to pursue those sensations, those little pains that may seem so small and insignificant. Even though they may be benign or of little concern, it is still worth it to be proactive and to be an advocate for oneself.

As the interview continued, Harper stated, “I think about before the heart attack I was having dizzy spells and I thought, maybe I should have really taken that more seriously. It’s been a huge wake up call for me. In addition, he has a family history of heart disease, as his mother passed away from a heart attack. Though he is now on the mend and progressing well, he made it a point to note, “It’s been hard. I’m going through some depression. You really face your mortality and I’m really understanding what’s important in life.”

Bob Harper recovery

His interview with Savannah today was eye-opening. For me, I cannot even begin to explain my own experiences with health and how important it has been throughout my life to trust my body. Those personal experiences have led me to encourage family, friends, acquaintances and whomever I may cross paths with, including those who might be reading this today, to really take the time to listen to yourself. No worry or concern is really ever too small, it is worth it to be considered and if you find you are nervous or afraid to reach out and question doctors or professionals on your own, I encourage you to ask for help, ask for someone to accompany you to those appointments to help you ask those questions, or to serve as a reminder, or even as a support, just being there physically present FOR YOU. Whether that person is a family member, a friend, a neighbor, an acquaintance, if it provides you with the support, confidence and reassurance you might need to be proactive with your health, then I strongly encourage you to ask for that help and for that hand. Sometimes a helping hand and a listening ear may be all we need to get us to where we need or want to be.

I’m truly grateful for the interview between Savannah Guthrie and Bob Harper today, for it’s shear honesty, truth, and imperative message of self-care and personal health maintenance with the take-away message being prevention is key.

Your health is worth it and YOU are worth it – worth the time, the energy and compassion. Take care of you, because you deserve health and happiness.