I’ve been wanting to write and attempting to write for the last few weeks with one topic in mind, but every time I even think about putting pen to paper all I can focus on is how angry I am. Angry about the New Year, angry towards diet culture, angry towards the people and companies who take advantage and profit off of all our insecurities and angry that my small voice won’t even amount to a whisper amongst all the weight loss and diet talk.
The New Year is upon us, January 1st has passed us by and with that we always have a huge uprising of new shiny diets promising us the world, products and potions that ‘guarantee’ a quick fix to all of the weight woes you carry around (yes pun intended). I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like I’m drowning with all the talk of detoxes, weight loss and exercise regimes.
I’m tired of diets being shoved in our faces, I fed up with us being sold harmful products in pretty pink packages and I’m sick to death of people I used to know popping up on Facebook, trying to sell me their pyramid scheme because they believe ‘it fits with my lifestyle’, when really it’s just harmful.
So to help my own mental well being (and maybe yours as well), I’ve decided to put together some facts to help us all through January.
Firstly : Meal shakes, tea to lose weight and appetite suppressants. Now most of us will see celebrities promoting these products and brush it off knowing that it’s silly and not think any more of it. But these products are being sold in our high street shops, by health ‘companies’ and those sneaky people on social media.
So a quick reminder; these products are NOT sustainable. They will only cause weight loss if you are in a calorie deficit, but that doesn’t mean that they are a long term option (or an option at all). Sure you can be taking in less calories, but what happens when you start eating again? Even if you’re eating wholesome stuff, your weight will go up. Eat real, solid food and avoid worsening your relationship with food.
Next up: Diets dressed up in pretty packages – pretending to be a ‘lifestyle change’ or ‘focusing on your wellness’. Promising you all the yummy foods that you used to eat with the benefit of losing weight and keeping your mental well being a top priority.
If there’s ANY rules, it’s a diet. If there’s a goal of manipulating and changing your body size, it’s a diet. These companies will do everything they can to distance themselves from the ‘D’ word – diet, but that’s what they are. Of course there is such a thing as a lifestyle change, eating more nutritiously dense food and moving your body because you enjoy it but if that ‘lifestyle change’ comes with a goal weight then it’s a diet. Don’t fall for the nicely presented website with clever, thought out hints and tips that seem super easy, healthy and legit. Before you know it you’ll be falling further down the dieting rabbit hole than before.
Finally ( for today at least): Exercise. yes it’s good! It’s good to move your body in a way that feels lovely, whether that’s weight lifting, HIIT, cardio, yoga or, well anything really. What we should be mindful of is the reasons we’re doing the exercise.
Are you going to the gym because you feel guilty? Are you eating a meal but constantly thinking about going for a run or a class to burn off all the calories? Could you happily sit after a large meal and not feel a desperate need to exercise? Is your world made up of calories in vs calories burnt? Are you obsessed with getting a six pack or a thigh gap or a lower number on the scale?
If any of these ring true then you probably don’t need me to tell you that it’s not the happiest or healthiest way to live.
We should also be careful with how we talk about exercise, avoiding phrases like ‘ sweat is fat crying’, ”no pain, no gain’ – When did we start believing that pain whilst exercising is positive, if we buy into that rhetoric then we are essentially making our bodies the enemy. It’s becomes easy to think that exercise is the punishment our bodies deserve for not fitting into the ‘perfect’ image we’ve created.
So as a general round up; avoid appetite suppressants and weird shakes at all costs. Eat when your body asks for food and if you are involved in a prettily packaged diet – question it, why are you doing it? What is it doing for you (really though are you only ‘enjoying it’ because you see the numbers on the scale going down? Pick it apart, you can live without it!). Exercise because you enjoy it. If you don’t feel like moving today, don’t. Don’t buy in to all the guilt people try and throw your way for not going to the gym or joining your pal in a fitness class.
Think of all the brilliant things we could work towards and achieve if we weren’t so obsessed (as a society) with obtaining the ‘perfect body’.
Whatever it is you’re putting off until you’re ‘thin’ or all the stuff you don’t feel good enough for/ don’t deserve/ can’t have in your current body, you can do all those things and more in your current body! it’s yours for the taking. What’s the point in putting things off until the stars are aligned, until that planet is in retrograde or until your body is ‘perfect’. If you want to change in one way or another then that’s okay but remember: YOU ARE ALREADY GOOD ENOUGH. RIGHT NOW. JUST AS YOU ARE. EVERY DAY. ALL YEAR ROUND.
So here’s to a year of exploring places with the man I love. Here’s to new challenges. Here’s to carrying on the fight against diet culture – whether my whispers reach one person or a thousand! Here’s to growth, whether it be my my job, my mental well being or my weight, because any pounds gained, any meals eaten are a step away from my eating disorder and diet culture and a step towards everything else!
Wonderful art work by @meandmyart found on Instagram