Body Positivity: A Marathon, Not a Sprint



High tide and grey skies at the beach capturing my mood this week!


Hi! How is everyone doing this merry month of May? May, in Scotland, so far, has been pretty freaking rainy and horrible if I’m honest. Usually May is one of the nicer months here. But not this month. Mostly 50 degrees and raining, which to be honest can wear on the soul after a while.

So I wrote a blog post last week about body positivity/self-acceptance. It was quite the magnum opus, even by my standards! So many words it had, with jazzy subheadings and everything! But by the time I’d finished writing it…I just wasn’t in the same headspace at all as when I’d begun it.

I wasn’t feeling full of self-love or self-acceptance, not remotely. Some of it was hormones; I’m feeling better today as the red fugue lifts! But I don’t know. I can read all of the wonderful bopo and self-acceptance things and try to convince myself I will never stress about losing weight again, but sometimes, it’s just a really tall mountain to climb for me.

And it’s not that there’s not space for struggle or self-doubt in the self-love growth chart, but more and more why I lean in towards a thing they call “body neutrality” is that, just as I can never see myself as the pro weight loss gym bunny type, I also know that I will never feel comfortable putting pictures of myself up in bikinis/whatever, the way that so many bopo accounts do. I see them and think “Yay them”, truly, visibility of all shapes and sizes is something I am all for. But it’s just not me.  

Introverts need to build this stuff from the inside out, as with everything, and it does make this particular walk feel like a steep incline to me right now. Body positivity can be lonely if you are not reaching out, putting up pictures of yourself for affirmation, etc. I see a lot of people who use/rely on the big upping of social media, whatever their size, to tell them they look great, and of course it’s going to work.

But for the rest of us, it feels isolating. Diet culture is everywhere around us, and to not participate in it you do begin to feel like a stubborn kid at a party who won’t play the same game everyone else is playing. And not only that, you start to question yourself any time you feel low. Wouldn’t you feel better about yourself if you lost a bit of weight? It seems to work for everyone else. Why are you making life so hard for yourself? 

Other people diet successfully and post manifestos about how great it makes them feel and you feel a bit deflated and like a spoilsport for not saying “Yay, you!”. But I can’t anymore. Of course I support other people doing whatever they feel like if they want to lose weight, but I can’t with the “I was fat and that made me hate myself, now I am thin and life is sweet” brigade.

I know from personal experience it is a lie, that diets are a hamster wheel we all fall off of eventually. I know it in a way I never did before. I know that for my mental health intuitive eating and exercising to feel the good endorphins and the strength in my body is the way forward. But it means letting go of a lot of who I was/am.

It means stopping my “When I’m thinner” future fantasies of how much better events will be if I lose weight. “When I’m thinner I can wear this and do this and BE this perfect version of me and life will be grand” is a very, very hard thing for me to let go of.

It is autopilot mode, it is second nature, to plan ahead and hope and pray that I'm thinner, regardless of how or why, because future perfect is not just a tense in the French language, for me future perfect has often been a vital, driving motivation in so many ways.

Letting go of the idea of thin me, which has been kind of a motivator in every attempt at weight loss my whole life, some days, still feels impossible.

I guess I realized in writing my other piece this week that while my rational brain can absorb body positivity and self-acceptance relatively easily, there is still rather a large part of my emotional brain that finds it a very uphill battle. And I can’t ignore that. I need to find reliable ways to deal with it.

But I do know this: despite a really hard few days of feeling rubbish about myself, I still don’t want to go back to where I was before. I like eating what I feel like and not counting calories, which guess what, means you actually don’t feel like overeating ever really, shocker! It also doesn’t mean you only eat junk, I have been eating a lot more things I personally crave, like tofu stir frys(!), since I started this.

I like feeling slightly removed from my body/being able to observe minor changes in strength from Pilates or weightlifting -not in a “MY body is becoming more thin/acceptable!” way, but in a “This is where I’m at, oh look a new muscle that’s nice” kind of way (it’s so hard to describe the change in the way you view your body when you are in the body positive mind set, it’s just…way less judgemental…on a good day, obviously).

I think what I have learned mostly this week is that I need to work harder at this, to arm myself with more ways of dealing with low moments and increase my knowledge/reading and find what works for me personally to feel more centred and less focused on the exterior.

I have a meditation c.d. loaned to me that I have been procrastinating using, I am definitely going to try it this week, and also I will try to be gentler with myself this week, too. Like a lot of things, it's easy to feel like a failure, even at something like body positivity, if you set the bar too high.

There was a nice post in one of the bopo communities the other week about how aggressive and hard so much of so called “fitspo” is in tone, all of this “you are weak if you don’t constantly push yourself to the limit” type b.s. It’s important we know when to cut ourselves some slack, too, doing our best, whatever that is, is just fine.


Body Positive pages that I enjoy/find strength in:




6 comments

  1. If it helps ... I've been going to a gym for three years. I dropped a dress size and put on half a stone. I am able to toss a wok. I can dig the garden in 4 hours instead of having to do it in three bites of two. My knees are better. I am more vippy and full of beans. I sleep better. And did I mention my knees are better. Not good but at least I can walk now. So I hear you on the 'ooo look there's a new muscle there' side of it. So go you and you keep on it. Because I find that taking exercise makes you feel a bit more in control.

    And I'm older than you, so this is more pertinent to me as it's about ageing more than slimness but it still means lumps, dangly bits where there were none, flab etc. And it's funny. Enjoy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4QzHeUE-CM

    Cheers

    MTM

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    1. Thanks I will check it out! Did my knee in a bit yesterday as I have been slacking with exercise generally lately, gah.

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  2. It's a long process. I walk a lot but am probably too injured to ever exercise vigorously again, which makes me sad. But I am fitter so anything is better than nothing and persistence is all. We are eating more healthily and I have swapped out junk food snacks for bananas. I'm not thinner but my body looks better. I often feel I look fat and middle aged but caught sight of myself in a mirror in a charity shop and thought I looked ok. I try to use positive self talk and to wear things I like. Ageing is crap but while we're alive we're winning.
    One day at a time. In the moment. X

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    1. I am feeling so creaky lately! All of that walking around London is making you fitter than you realize I'm sure! :-)

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  3. It's great you have this space to do your thinking and ruminating so you aren't just stuck in your head too much. You'll figure out what is your pace and what works for you!

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    1. Ha,I think getting outside my head is probably a healthier route for me! ;-)

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