Why I Don't Want to Be Skinny Anymore
What do I hear over and over and over again as an Intuitive Eating Coach?
WilI lose weight?
What’s my set point weight?
How will I know when I reach it?
Do I just have to accept that I’m going to live in this body forever?
and sometimes all the disclaimers that follow:
I mean, not that I really care about my weight...
Of course that’s not WHY I’m doing this...
I’m really just curious.
Ok, first of all, Yes You Do. We all care about our weight. Because we live in this thriving diet culture and have been taught that our health, happiness, and success all depend on the size of our body.
So, of course you care about weight.
And even if you know that diets don’t work, and you’re committed to learning a different way to relate to food, and you’re determined to love yourself unconditionally…
You still think about your weight.
I do, too!
I still have those fleeting thoughts about how much better I would feel in a smaller body, or how I would be able to rock that cute dress I saw at the mall, or how I wouldn’t have that fleeting moment of panic when I’m about to see someone for the first time since my recovery.
But you know what always helps me get my thoughts back on track?
Remembering how fucking sad I was when I was thinner.
Here’s what I’ve come to realize over the course of my recovery and becoming a professional in this field: for me, being thin comes at too high a price.
Let me explain what it looked like for me…
After a lifetime of hating myself, and fleeting attempts to change my body, I finally got motivated and stuck to a diet. For over a year. And I lost a tremendous amount of weight (over 100 pounds, just to give you an idea of the magnitude).
By all accounts, I should have been happy, right? But what I actually was was starving, sad, and disillusioned.
Suddenly, everyone loved me. People in my office who barely made eye contact with me before were hunting me down, grilling me about my diet, and looking and talking about my body in really inappropriate ways. Men were hitting on me at gas stations. Everyone was watching me, or at least that’s how it felt.
And I was so damn hungry. I had to monitor every bite I took, count every point, check off every piece of fruit or glass of water. It was taking all my time and energy, and I was exhausted. I literally felt like I was balanced on the point of a needle, and one wrong move would send me careening into oblivion. It was a horrible, lonely feeling.
But you know what the worst part was? I still hated my life. Being smaller didn’t solve anything. This thing that I had invested all my time and energy in, and had fantasized about my whole life, and was sure was the key to my everlasting joy and success...meant nothing.
I was still the same sad, insecure person living an extremely unfulfilling life, and I had to face the terrifying question of what was really wrong. I had finally “fixed” my body, yet nothing had really changed. What an enormous disappointment.
I had a very typical post-diet experience: lost my energy and attention for it, weight started creeping back on, self-confidence in the toilet, anxiety through the roof, and now fully immersed in the restrict-binge cycle (eating the bare minimum to stay alive throughout the day, and spending my evenings walking back and forth between the sofa and the refrigerator until I finally collapsed into bed with a worrisome stomach ache).
It took me quite a lot of self-reflection, therapy, and time to finally realize that my self-worth was not directly attached to my weight or size. And once I got to that point, I had to make a choice.
I had to make a conscious decision that being happy mattered more than living in a smaller body.
Yes, I know no one wants to hear that. I know we all want to hang on to the illusion that if we do this “right,” we’ll eventually be skinny (and there are a lot of other Intuitive Eating professionals out there that want you to think that, too). But I’m not going to mince words about it anymore.
In order to find peace with food, and fully and unconditionally accept yourself, you have to stop worrying about your weight.
You have to accept that living in a larger body might be part of the process, and love yourself anyway.
You have to decide that striving for social acceptance by forcing your body to be smaller isn’t worth the price you have to pay.
And you have to decide that you are worthy and lovable no matter what shape you take.
I’m not pretending it’s an easy journey or a simple decision. But you may as well know the final goal at the beginning, even if you decide to avoid it for as long as possible.
But make no mistake: it’s up to you. You don’t HAVE to make the same decisions I did. You don’t have to accept yourself in the body you’re currently living in. You can continue to pursue thinness and control yourself around food and spend your energy trying to be more socially acceptable.
But just be clear that you’re making a conscious decision to do that. You won’t find real peace and freedom around food as long as you are trying to make yourself smaller. Which is fine, if that’s what you choose.
But for me...I’m never going back. I’m putting my happiness and freedom at the top of my list, and letting all the other little shit go.
One of the most disheartening stories I ever heard was about a woman in hospice care, literally at the end of her life, refusing a bowl of ice cream because it was too fattening. I hope I get to the end of my life and look back on a full, vibrant, fun life full of laughter and success, freedom and joy...and huge bowls of ice cream.
Done With Dieting
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