How Do You Diet Body Positive?
I'm 27 and I think it's time to admit that I'm a bit of a yo-yo dieter. Not like every few weeks or months am I drinking cabbage or beans or something, but a slow yo-yo-er. A slow roll from one diet to another. Slowly and inconsistently wandering about Healthy Food Land. At least I know what speed I like to move at.
So, here I am (again), the heaviest I've been in a long time, fresh from reading The Goddess Revolution, but unable to put into practice all the things I feel in my soul about healthy eating and looking after my body. And thus I find myself at the door of that well-know slimming club (again).
I didn't take the decision to do so lightly. I remember the bad times my first time round - the anger at a gain, the upset that followed, the binge of junk food after a weigh in and the self-deprivation to reign myself back in after a weekend. I don't want it to be like that again. I'm 27 and the world can fuck itself if it thinks I'm sitting in a community hall when I'm 50 bemoaning the meal I ate a week ago.
I don't want to hate food and I don't want to hate me, but the diet machine thrives off this, so it perpetuates it. I want to lose some weight because I feel unhealthy, I want to do it because this me now isn't the me I am. It's the me I accidentally morphed into while my mental health was more pressing than my physical. Weight loss is part of my aim, but it's not the whole picture and it's not my whole story. I want to be kinder to myself and I'm using the consideration of what I put into my body to do it.
Anyway, there I am. In the community hall. The women are still middle aged, and they still refer to their periods as a 'Star Week'. It's all quite familiar and I worry I've made a mistake until I remember. Until I really bloody realise that I am not them.
Urgh! Jesus Christ, I don't have to mourn a weight gain or get angry because I had some cheesecake. I fucking love cheesecake. I came home from that community hall and made myself my "body positive, weight management sanity keeper". Well, a list of things to help me keep my mind from going to dark places while I look after my body.
I'm going to share them because I genuinely believe the diet industry will never change. But I can bend some of the less destructive elements to my will and benefit.
Are You Really Doing This For You?
I'm serious. Have a word with yourself and be absolutely certain this pursuit is for you. If you're doing it to be a supportive friend, or because someone encouraged you to, or because you feel you should - don't. You have to want to.
If that means gaining a stone more or eating so much you physically hurt, then so be it, because those were choices you made and they will be your marker moment for making a change. I know that sentence might anger some people, but from personal experience you have to hit a wall. An that's not a nice place to be.
Change The Way You Talk About Food
There are no 'naughty' or 'bad' foods anymore. I stop myself calling them that. There's healthy food, and not-so-healthy food, and food I like and food I don't. But I'm not giving it those names anymore because it gives it power it doesn't need. If I call food 'bad' then by association I am bad when I eat it.
I'm also 'eating healthily' - I'm not 'on a diet'. My healthy eating screams positivity, not denial of things. It puts me in charge and not my food. It makes it a choice, not a penance.
I'm taking away those words from the way I talk and think about food, because in the end we only use them to judge ourselves.
Always Find The Good
I had a wild and drunken 2 nights of Halloween this weekend gone. I drank a lot one night and ate all the cake the second. But ultimately I choose to do that so I'm getting on with life. Now, I could regret those 2 nights, but I won't, because I had a butt ton of fun and I found something within them that I am furiously proud of - I didn't eat the pizza.
The event was straight after work, there was a lot of pizza around all night, I was drunk and bloody hell, I still didn't eat the pizza. I found the good and it is my beacon of light within something that I would have been ashamed of in the past.
Don't Let It Stop You Living
It's Halloween, then Bonfire Night, then basically Christmas so there's events popping up all over the shop. In the past I might have struck off some events, thinking they were too dangerous for someone trying to be healthy. Well, what's the point in doing something that stops you living how you want?
It's just food, not an ASBO. I still do everything I want, all I do is consider it more or plan ahead if it truly matters to me to stay way from chocolate, booze or pizza. Unless this eating plan is literally life or death, you can go to the cinema to see the new Harry Potter film.
Gaining Weight Is Natural
No one, especially women, loses weight without some putting on every now and again. We work our muscles and then retain water to repair them. We go through our hormonal cycle and our bodies do God-knows-what and we feel the size of planets. We have a night out and eat some chips. It happens.
You're not a saint and while a loss every week seems easy from afar, when you're faced with day to day life, it can seem like battling the Devil. So give yourself a break and let your body have it's odd moments. Being kind is better than fighting yourself every step of the way. Letting these weeks go by with acceptance means you're more likely to stick with your healthy eating as well.
You Are Truly Valuable As You Are Right Now
Get it out of your head that all of your problems will be solved when you're thinner. We've all done it - in your mind you're suddenly super clever and confident and sexy and beautiful and younger and have more money and have a nice car and blah, blah, blah. It's all bollocks. We know it, but we're led to believe it by, well, everything.
Take some time to see yourself as a whole person, exactly as you are now. This version of you has every bit of potential and ability as the thinner you you imagined. This you is, if anything, even more powerful than that other one, because you are real and making choices that are difficult for you everyday.
Girl, you're a fucking miracle. Own it.