Last week, I tackled a whole bunch of topics, and I want to tease one out to go into a little more depth about it. I have a bundle of thoughts and no idea how they will translate into words, but I have never been much of an editor of my blog posts, so why start now? Let’s see where this goes.
So I have been dieting (off and on) for a long time…like greater than 20 years. And within the past three or so years, I have really started considering (and later embracing) the idea that diets, for the most part, don’t work. Statistics say that anywhere from 95-97% of people who lose large amounts of weight are unable to keep it off (read more about this here). There is a reason that diet commercials have that disclaimer at the bottom of the screen, the one that says, “Results not typical.” And over maybe the past two months, I have gotten to the point that I cannot and will not stay on that hamster wheel. I have places I want to go, so it became time to get off.
When I saw my PCP this year, I acknowledged to her that my weight is higher than it was last year. However, I also told her that I was unwilling to try a diet to “fix” that because that would feed the fuel of my eating disorder more than almost anything could. She was agreeable to this…I am fortunate to have a really great doctor and to have learned over time to begin acting as an advocate for myself, although this is still very much a work in progress (Fun fact: I think that a nurse’s most important job is to be an advocate for his or her patients. In the NICU setting, I feel that it is equally important to teach families to be advocates for their babies. I have never been very into the idea, however, of being an advocate for myself).
Anyway, when I was first trying to break away from the diet culture, I found some other things to try (because I love a good program or tool or strategy). I tried mindful eating (which consisted of me sitting at my dining room table and eating in silence while the cat paced back and forth across the table and the dog waited patiently by my chair for any crumbs I might have to offer). I tried intuitive eating (which involved reading a book, being unable to see how I could possibly translate it into my real life, and then realizing it was sort of still a diet). I tried listening to podcasts and searching through Pinterest for empowering quotes and reading “un-dieting” books. And those didn’t work any better than dieting.
And then I turned 40. We have covered that already.
So the big thing I am seeing a lot of on social media lately is this whole body positive, fat acceptance thing. And I felt like, if I was going to eschew diet culture, I was going to have to embrace this whole movement that people like Virgie Tovar and the Militant Baker are doing so well. But I have to be honest. That did not feel any better to me than dieting did.
What I have seen is a lot of black and white. And this has made me feel like I had to choose between either being in a shame spiral and actively planning to lose weight and being assertively pro-body positivity/Health at Every Size. And I just am not. I don’t really want to stand on a big platform and make that my message. I want to embrace instead some shades of grey.
I went into my Facebook account and unfollowed any pages that had to do with these topics and this movement. I had found that what I had first sought out to feel better about myself was actually making me feel a little bit worse, as I would sort of cringe and scroll by those posts and think about how I “should” be paying attention to these messages. I went through my Bloglovin’ account and unfollowed a bunch of blogs that seemed to be encouraging me to do something that I did not want to do and be something I didn’t want to be. I stopped lending my voice to that particular conversation. And without that “noise” on board, I began to think about what this movement meant to me.
And here is what I have decided so far.
I am firmly pro-female, and I would say that I believe in “everyday feminism.” I am not overly political, and I probably will not be found at a lot of protest marches. But I believe in and support my fellow women, whether I want to join them on their journeys or not.
I want people to feel good about themselves. I want to be someone helps people feel good about themselves. I want their self-worth to be about more than what the scale says that day. I want to be known as someone who is there to lift people up and to allow herself to be lifted. I want people see me as someone who is comfortable in her own skin.
I do NOT want to go on a diet. I do NOT want my weight to dictate my day. I do NOT want to change my life to try to fit the ideals of society, as I don’t think that the ideals of society are relevant in my current life. I don’t want to “fit in” to the ideal. I am okay with being outside that space. But I also don’t want to feel like I have to do the opposite. I want to exist somewhere in the middle. The place where body size truly does NOT matter. Where it is not an issue at all, political or otherwise. Where health is still important, but it does not have a number attached to it.
I want to be healthy. And my body, in spite of its size (some might say), is healthy. And my mind is also feeling pretty healthy these days…so I think I am just going to continue standing here in the grey. And the grey area is pretty wide and has many different shades. Anyone is welcome to join me here.