You can’t go anywhere without a group of women talking about being on a diet. Almost every time I am in a group of women, diets come up as a topic with some sort of event they are losing weight for. Sadly, women feel this way about their bodies…and the negatively breeds in a poisonous way. Once a woman speaks about her diet, someone else pipes in about theirs, someone makes a comment about how “bad” they are and how they should really go on a diet then you know what everyone has excessive biscuits and chips with dinner… don’t get me wrong I partake in the biscuits to a large extent at the moment…I practically eat the communal packet.
Here lies the problem. Everyone is pessimistic about their astonishing bodies and then getting into this cycle of saying negative things so feeling negative, treating your body like crap, feeling guilty, judging yourself, and then making that a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It’s a vicious cycle, and people often say how they lost x amount of weight then put it back on and lost it etc. They can’t see how damaging this diet culture is to a person’s self-esteem.
I was not into the diet thing during my teens
My mum always promoted a healthy body image but having said that, I vividly remember the first time I got consumed by this “fat” malarkey. Although I am sure, as with many other occasions, she told me how incredible my figure was, she also showed me some exercises to flatten my belly…the belly of a teenage girl who yeah admittedly had control over her food for the first time in her life and got a bit obsessed with the shorter queue in the school canteen that sold hotdogs, curly fries and chocolate doughnuts.
But actually, I know now I was a healthy growing girl with a curvy figure and was highly active. But my early adult life was consumed by the idea that I was fat…I wasn’t at all; I was completely healthy and just hated my tummy for no good reason other than society told me it wasn’t ok because it wasn’t flat. However, I didn’t do anything about it other than remaining active generally. When someone once asked me if I did anything about it, i.e. crunches, I actually felt a little silly. I knew I didn’t really care that much and looked hot naked and thought that was all that really mattered.
How I first started a diet!
And I then left home, drank a bit more alcohol, was obsessed with sausage rolls, and started to sit at the top of my healthy weight range. Although drinking too much alcohol, I was pretty active still. Most of my diet was good, so my obsession with my abs was quite frankly ridiculous. I got involved with a guy who used to have a good old moan if I did anything without him, except when I went to the gym. Because he was a smoker, he had the slightest appetite and would comment on how ridiculous it was when I was still hungry…So when we broke up, I went a little nutty and literally ate all the food (well, not literally, but I did once eat ten packs of quavers and another time a whole loaf of bread in cheese toasties in one sitting). I think he’d be quite mortified to know how controlling I found him about food, but he really was.
A few things spiralled out of control during that period in my life. I got moderate depression. Everything was a bit shit, so it’s hard to say what caused it (well, I could, but I don’t want to go on all day). Still, I had stopped being active for the first time in my life and over 9 months, it got pretty bad, and when I came out the other side, I had gained 10 kilos.
Now that 10 kilos were going slowly, I wasn’t even really thinking about it but just getting on with going to the gym and eating my regular food.
But someone at my first job was raving bout WeightWatchers, and I wanted a quick fix. I was over my depression now mostly and back to me; this is about 9 months or so after I had begun to get better, and I just wanted to get the last bit done. And I did; I lost it all. Still, I set my target weight at what I was when I was a teenager as I had these stupid ideas of that’s where I was last happy with my figure. It was bam smack in the middle of my BMI, so surely that means it’s achievable. For months and months, I stayed at the weight. It was a pre-depression year, and I was miserable….so I did what everyone does with diets. I quit and put on 15 kilos! Obviously! I tried weight watchers again and yoyo-ed a few times before I decided I was done.
Following this, I got obsessed with the slimming world. Now don’t get me wrong, I think the slimming world is the best of the diets. It pretty much just promotes a healthy diet but like with so many people, I initially lost weight and then began to yoyo because you naturally want anything you restrict in your life, don’t you.
Since being on “diets” I’ve had more “naughty food” than ever before. I was never big into chocolate and would rarely buy crisps in the house, yet I constantly thought about using my points or calories for a treat.
Then something magical happened. I got pregnant. I could eat anything I wanted to, except gravy as a baby #1 wasn’t having any of that. But I was responsible for the growth of someone other than me. I gained weight slowly, kept active, and once the baby and water weight was gone, I had lost a substantial amount of weight. I couldn’t eat big portions when pregnant, and we were living in Japan, so it wasn’t all a lovely natural weight loss. After having my baby, I was thinner than when I had fallen pregnant. My clothes fell off me, tired, and I still had this big pregnant looking belly, and I felt so proud of my body, but I also felt weird about this. Indeed I wasn’t supposed to feel like this, and years of ingrained social bullshit was getting to me.
Diet no more!
As if by magic, I found a trailer for the embrace documentary. It was like it spoke to me. Seeing every woman interviewed negatively about all their beautiful bodies made me see my own negativity in a different light. I hadn’t swept away the diet idea in my head, but I definitely felt stronger in my love of myself. I waited two years before finally seeing the documentary, and it is life-changing. Never again will I go on a diet. Never again will I hate me for spots. I see it all so differently. I would recommend anyone to watch it, and it’s now available on iTunes.
I recognise that I am currently not taking great care of my body, but it’s a challenging phase in my life that I know I’ll get over. I craved salad today, then watermelon, then toffee, then tea and now I’m craving sleep. I know I need to change, not because of aesthetics but because I know I feel amazing when I am healthier. Still, I refuse to beat myself up about it anymore. My body and mind have suffered much, but they are still fighting strong for me, and I am so lucky to have them functioning, even if a little poorer than if I were really giving them the best.
I know that if I had ignored the lady at work who was praising WeightWatchers and just done my own thing, then I would have got there and never been obsessed with my weight. Most likely, I would have never put on so much again in a rebound, but that’s part of my history now. The fact is that it’s not losing a couple of kilos that will make me healthy; it’s every time I am active and sleep well and eat well that makes me healthy. It’s my choices every day that make me healthy, not a vague goal of being a specific dress size for an event month in the future.
I’m going to listen to my body and head to bed now. What is your body telling you to do?