For most of my life, I have struggled with a fear of being fat, a messed up relationship with food, and a deep-rooted conflict between losing weight and loving myself. I have lost weight with almost every diet on the planet and I have binge-ate my way to over 200 pounds.
I remember how it crushed me when boys in my 5th grade class called me fat. When I was 15, I starved myself all summer in hopes of being skinny and getting a boyfriend. I struggled to keep the weight off once I had a boyfriend. All through my early 20s, I started workout programs, all as punishment for how I felt about my body. I tried the cayenne pepper lemon water detox, I tried cutting carbs, I tried Whole30.
For a very long time, I thought that fat was the worst insult and I tried everything to avoid that fate. As if fat is worse than ignorance, is worse than selfishness, is worse than cruelty. For a very long time, I treated my body as something to be changed, to be punished, to be ashamed of.
And then, I became a mother; I realized that I wanted better for my daughter and that I needed to work on my own inner monologue to avoid passing my issues on to her. I invested myself into reprogramming my brain, to learning to accept myself and my appearance, regardless of any pant size, BMI number, or what the scale said. I dedicated myself to becoming someone who preached body positivity and I learned to love myself.
And, then, depression. In early 2018, I finally went to the doctor because I was so sure that something was physically wrong with me. I had gained 30 pounds in the course of 6 months; exhaustion had replaced all my energy and passion. My doctor ordered a whole bunch of blood tests. 2 weeks later, I was back in her office. All the tests came back negative for any sort of physical health problem.
“The only thing I can suggest is depression," my doctor said. One of my best friends repeated this message, as did my husband. I was able to find solutions for this and, now, I am faced with reconciling my message of body positivity that I so strongly believe in with my desire to lose this weight that I've gained.
Because I am slower, when I am chasing my daughter at the park. I lose my breath more easily. I love myself for everything I am and all that I have accomplished, but I feel uncomfortable in my body.
I read this quote the other day:
"Recently it hit me – you CAN be body positive. You CAN love your body. And STILL want it to be leaner, stronger, smaller, and healthier. You can love your body, and want to make it better. I had made “weight loss” a dirty term because I thought wanting to lose weight meant you didn’t love yourself. And that’s completely untrue." - Cara Alwill Leyba
And that's where I stand. I have learned to love myself and I have also realized that I want to lose some weight... in a way that actually feels good to me. I refuse to follow any plan that is restrictive (I love carbs) or that requires strict-rule following (I love chocolate and wine) or that forces me to hate myself to get results (I love myself).
So, I've recommitted. I'm working out 5 times a week, simply because I like the way it makes me feel afterwards. I don't have a weight loss goal; my hope is simply to shed the pounds that are not serving me. I am learning to eat well, to use the food groups for their actual purpose, and to arrange my plate for maximum energy and health.
I still love myself. I just love myself enough to do the things that I know I need to do to feel good. Those things are different for everyone and I would never tell anyone to follow the things I'm doing if those are the things that they need to feel good.
And that's how I've established the co-existence, for me, of body positivity (every body is a beach body, y'all) with my own desire to lose weight for my health and happiness.