In 2015, I decided to stop dieting. I’d been on a diet for 10 years. 10 YEARS!!!! And it was the shittest diet ever because year on year, I started January heavier than the year before.
I went through cycles of starving and binging, salad obsessions and chocolate gorging. I’d lose weight, lose interest and gain the weight back along with a few more pounds.
Well last year, I decided my poor old body had had just about enough. I’d had 3 surgeries in 18 months, a Stoma, a Jpouch, 2 hernias and a lot of meds and treatment. I decided that it was pretty wonderful that I was even still standing and so I should give it a break from messing with food.
Diets don’t work. You follow the rules and lose weight, but any short term food deprivation only leads to temporary weight loss. If you loosen the reins and return back to your former ways, you will gain it all back.
I started thinking about why I was dieting. Did I want to be thinner, or was it just what is expected of me as a woman? The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I’m actually very happy in my skin. I like my big body, I think I’m soft and beautiful and hella sexy.
But we aren’t meant to say that are we? Especially not if we are ‘plus size’. We’re meant to be ashamed and apologetic. We’re meant to strive to be ‘better’. But what if ‘better’ has fuck all to do with the number in the back of your dress? What if ‘better’ isn’t about being a size 6?
Humans are all different sizes and shapes, yet we strive to be like a very narrow, Western ideal of beauty that comes from fashion and media. It comes from air brushing, the use of very young models, the use of extremely thin models. The pressure on women to conform is HUGE. To look more like a tiny percentage of women. Isn’t that silly?
The funny thing is that my lack of dieting last year, means I start this year lighter than I was at the start of 2015. It’s the first year that my weight hasn’t gone up and I truly believe this is because I took the pressure off myself, I refused to diet but that doesn’t mean that I decided to eat everything in sight!
When I diet, I am constantly thinking about food. I think about calories and my next meal, I dream of food and look longingly at cheese boards. This year my focus was on other things, I don’t want to waste time thinking about food when there is a whole world of awesome to be thinking about! My lack of dieting made me more in touch with my body, eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full. Never denying myself of food but enjoying it and savouring it.
I’m learning all the time to love my body. It’s not easy, I do cave in sometimes and see photos of myself where I’m surprised by my size. But that’s usually because I’m viewing myself through someone else’s eyes. My confidence is dented when I think that someone else is looking at me and thinking about my shape. In my head, I am Beyoncé. And Zooey Dechanelle. And Thandie Newton. And Superwoman. And Marilyn Monroe.
I’m a bad ass version of all those women blended into one shit hot mega babe.
And so it surprises me sometimes when I see a fat, 34 year old mum in gardening gear.
But you know, I do love my body. Are there things I would change? Yes. Do I want to be healthier? Yes. Will I diet ever again? No fucking way!
Healthy eating and exercise are wonderful, I think we should all eat delicious, unprocessed, bright, colourful, mouth watering food. I think we should all move our bodies and take part in exercise that is fun and makes us happy.
We only have this one body and so it is really important that we take care of it by giving it the fuel it needs and working our muscles to keep us mobile. Our physical health is vital.
But so is our emotional health, so take a moment and think about making your mind and spirit healthy too. Acceptance and self love. Celebrating not demonising. Give yourself the affirmation that you are beautiful. Because beauty isn’t about looking the same as a 14 year old size 0 fashion model, it’s about your unique and bloody brilliant self. It’s about kindness and humour and confidence and love whether you’re a size 0 or a size 32+!!
This new year, you will be bombarded by adverts telling you that you aren’t enough. That you need to buy their products to change yourself to fit in.
Fuck fitting in.
If you want to make a healthy change to your lifestyle, then go for it! But think about the long term lifestyle changes you might want to make, be aware that short term diets DONT WORK LONGTERM. Find a physical activity that you want to do, do it with friends, make it fun, enjoy it!
If you don’t want to diet, don’t be led to believe that you must. Enjoy your body, celebrate your brilliance and love yourself.