This is the first of a six-part series of posts I’m doing about fat acceptance, which I’ve modified from a talk I did in 2008.
It’s January again. We’ve been bombarded for the last couple of weeks with talk of the typical New Years’ resolution to go on a diet and lose weight. From how crowded the gym is, it seems that many of us made that New Year’s resolution again. Some of us do this every year, don’t we?
Just a couple of weeks in, many of us may already feel like failures because we’ve begun yet another diet and have already failed to stick with it. Others aren’t calling it a “diet”…the new term is “lifestyle change” because many experts finally recognize that short-term calorie deprivation for the purpose of quick weight loss invariably fails. Instead, we’re expected to deprive ourselves for the rest of our lives.
Many of us will stick with these lifestyle changes for a while, perhaps months or even years, and will lose weight. Others will continue to “battle a weight problem.” Those of use who lose weight and keep it off will live in fear of that candy bar, hamburger and fries, or potato chips, knowing, but not willing to admit that we’re one bite away from the world seeing our loss of control because we will quickly get fat again.
But how can everyone who is fat lack willpower or the determination to reach their goals? I know many fat doctors and lawyers, singers and writers, and people who work every day to keep their families warm and clothed and fed. Are they all out of control? I think not.
Instead of beating ourselves up because we don’t stick to our New Years’ resolution to lose weight, I’d like to introduce an alternative resolution to accept yourself the way you are. It is possible to accept your body at whatever its shape, size, or ability, right now.
When I am “on a diet,” the underlying presumption is that my body—my self—is not OK. Being on a diet means that there’s something wrong with me that I’m trying to fix. This is a bad assumption. Everything that I eat, all day long, sets me up for feeling good or bad depending on the choice I make. Dieting takes me down into a spiral of self-abuse that doesn’t do me any good, that takes up energy that could be used more productively, and takes away the joy of eating because it feels good and because it nourishes our bodies and souls. We’re physical beings. Food is one of the pleasures of being alive.
What we can do is be gentle with ourselves. Identify and throttle the inner critic who is always telling you that you’re too fat, or your nose is too long, or that you shouldn’t eat that cookie becaue you are just a slob! Most of us wouldn’t dream of talking to other people the way we chatter to and judge ourselves.
We also must stop talking badly about ourselves to each other. How often do we tell our friends or acquaintances that “I’ve gotten so fat over the holidays” or “I’ve been so bad.” When someone talks about how fat they are, my first thought is “if they think they’re so fat, what do they think about me?”
If you want to make changes to your diet or lifestyle choices for your health, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, or exercising more often, great. It is much easier to make these healthy choices from a place of love for yourself than from a place of hating who you’ve become.