Ever felt insecure or stifled by your weight? Ever felt like you would be accepted more if you weighed less? Ever wanted to have zero body fat and wear whatever you wanted? Ever thought your sex life would be better if you weighed less?
I’ve been eating more lately. I gained 13 pounds. I’m not pregnant or anything. But, today 7 weeks into the pandemic, I realize that I’m eating for comfort and I’m not mad at that.
Let me tell you a story: Around 2015 I was nearing my goal weight with Weight Watchers. I’m 5’2 and so my goal weight was 138. At that time I was scarfing Diet Cokes, eating microwave lean cuisines and smart ones meals, and having a cheat day every week.
At that time, I also would eat once a day and work out 2 hours a day, sometimes with a trainer and sometimes not. I would constantly push myself to go harder in the gym and eat only the things that would not show up during weigh-in time.
Did I develop an eating disorder within this process? Looking over the criteria as a mental health clinician now; the answer is yes. Did I realize it at the time? No. I would weigh on the scale at the meetings just hoping to continue losing weight. 2.8 pounds here. 1.2 pounds there. Never eating or drinking water before the weigh-ins. My feelings rose and fell with the rising and falling of the scale. Maybe you have gone through similar experiences with your body and your weight. Maybe you haven’t. But, whatever the case, weight and body image continue to be constant factors in our lives.
You can’t go too far without seeing an ad for a slim and trim challenge, a booty challenge, a new diet plan or protein shake. Sometimes I ask myself who stands to gain from our hyper-dedication and obsession with our bodies. The answer: Not me. It’s big business, and big business hopes you will invest, and invest again, and tell your friends to join you so you ALL can invest.
When I invested in Weight Watchers at around $40 a month, I felt on top of the world as I begin to lose weight; but as I mentioned, my habits became detrimental to the ultimate goal. I was frustrated when I hit a wall and my weight wouldn’t budge, so I ate less and stopped gaining muscle. I joined the Biggest Loser Challenge at the gym and won the whole program. I skipped meals where I could when I could, and I surpassed the wall. This was my obsession for two years, not to mention the year I did weight watchers in 2008 as well. And, my life began to be wrapped up in getting and staying slim and trim. Literally going from a size 16/18 to a size 6/8. I realize some of you may be cheering right now and saying “I wanna do that too". But, at what sacrifice? And for how long are you willing to keep it up?
Long story short, I never reached my goal weight. Almost didn’t count. Instead my weight crept back up bit by bit and surpassed the weight that I started weight watchers with 5 years ago. Am I upset? No. Am I willing to go back to near-starvation, diet sodas, and fear of the scale each week? No. Do I miss my gorgeous clothes and being able to shop anywhere, anytime? Yes. But, do I have a more positive relationship with food and with my body? Yes. Am I where I want to be weight-wise? Probably not, but I’m happy with my overall growth and I accept the curves and dents of my body.
I was always told I had baby fat and carried the fat gene; and perhaps that’s true. But at whatever size you’re at, take the time to develop and love your body like crazy. We only get one. Whatever size you are, make the small subtle changes that help you live well day after day. Maybe that’s taking the scale out of your bathroom. Maybe that’s eating out less and cooking more. Maybe that’s finding a healthier blueberry muffin recipe. Maybe that’s ordering whatever you want at your favorite restaurant. Maybe that’s eating whatever the heck you want and licking the fork without guilt. Maybe that’s doing your favorite workout or walking a slow walk on a lovely spring day.
But, loving your body starts from within. When your love you body, it will love you back. It’s the power of reciprocation. What you give, will give unto you. You also have to be ready to receive love from yourself and give love to your whole self. Weight is no longer my obsession; wellness is.
I hope this encourages you today. Stop obsessing and start investing in your whole happiness and self-acceptance.
This Dear Wednesday Letter was hand-crafted by Dr. Joy. Dr. Joy Well, mental health clinician, confidence catalyst, professor, self-sabotage solutionist and avid researcher is one of the quintessential experts on the connection between the mind, body, and immune system. Her doctoral work explored the experiences of women of color living with autoimmune diseases and how they function and experience the medical community and beyond. Once a shy, small-town girl with big dreams, Joy has found peace and purpose working with women of all ages to develop a fierce, faith-filled identity, personally and professionally. She is a clinician and entrepreneur in mental health private practice, seeing all ages, backgrounds, and genders. In her spare time, she enjoys music, movies, writing, and getting into mischief with friends. You can find Dr. Joy on social media @captivatingjoy.