TW mentions of fat, diet talk, self image & loving yourself


I've been writing this post over the last few days as I want to share my feelings on a subject quite dear to me, so please bear with me as I meander my way to the heart of it. Please note these are just my opinions and I'm not intent on being preachy but when I'm fired up about something I can get a bit intense. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, whether you agree with me or not.

TW means trigger warning, in case you don't know. This is in case anyone who is sensitive to a particular topic can avoid it, or at least go into reading about it forewarned. These type of warnings are put on posts about emotive topics, for example talk about dieting (which might affect someone with an eating disorder), self-harm (talk of cutting might bring someone out of relapse) etc. etc.

When I first started writing this blog I didn't have very many followers (I had readers who were here because they were my friends, basically) and I didn't expect to gain many followers, because at the time I was just waffling on about my life. For about the first 2 years of writing my blog I didn't use the tag feature (for people to search within my blog by certain 'tagged' subjects.) A few weeks ago I started to go through all my posts to attach the relevant tags as I was getting peed off with my own lack of organisation. As I did so, I started to read back on my posts and was really shocked at the way I used to talk about myself a couple of years ago.

To zoom forward before we go back again, I've been on Tumblr for about 18 months now, but only seriously for about the last 10-11 months. There is a really great fat community on there, full of really inspiring people who inform, educate and uplift. Since being on Tumblr, I've started to think of myself in a totally different light.

Some of the things I used to say about myself in my blog and in my photo captions were really horrible. I've always had a self-deprecating sense of humour, and I've always taken the piss out of myself pretty mercilessly. I once saw someone on Tumblr say that we don't know who might be reading our blogs, so we can't just put anything out there about ourselves and not expect it to have repercussions on the people who read it. A light bulb went on. If I say horrible things about my double chins for example, how does that make someone feel reading who also has double chins?! So, as I read back the things I'd written about myself in the past while I was adding tags, I changed a little bit inside. Any time I spotted anything horrible I'd written about myself, I deleted it. If a whole blog was about dieting or wanting to lose weight (more on this further on) I reverted it to a draft so no one has to see that, as at that time I wasn't wanting to do it for the right reasons. I wanted to be smaller. I didn't want to be healthy. I wasn't being kind to myself, and I think you have to think kindly of yourself before you embark on a lifestyle change. You have to love yourself to begin with so you can give yourself the best care.

Incidentally, on the subject of my chins, they've been one of the hardest things for me to accept on myself, until I found a photo of myself from when I was 17 and emaciated. Guess what?! I HAD A DOUBLE CHIN WHEN I WAS SO SKINNY MY BONES HURT. They're a part of ME. Fat or thin, I'm just someone with a lot of chin. Now, I'm a lot less down on my chins. And damn, they're so soft. They make velvet feel like sandpaper. Ha! So, yep, I love them now and am letting a lot more pics of them creep into my posts, apart from when I do a tilt-head-back thing when I laugh, because I'm not all the way there yet with this self love thing. It's a process, it's a journey, and it goes backwards and forwards. I love myself some days more than others. We all do.

So, what are my feelings on dieting now? 

Dieting: Restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight. [From Google search definition.]

RESTRICT. Interesting choice of word.

Well, I've binned the word 'diet'. It now offends me as a concept. It instils the belief in people that for a short time of suffering or restriction you can have long term results. I think the entire thought process behind 'dieting' is harmful. It's not usually about being kind to yourself, it's usually about losing weight as quickly as possible no matter what damage it does to your body. Let me make it clear - changing your body or wanting to change your body is not a bad thing. Being realistic about how you're going to get there and how you are going to take care of yourself in the process is key. To me, dieting isn't realistic and doesn't scream 'I'm taking care of myself'. Dieting is about restriction, punishment, whereas eating well and exercising moderately are about taking great care of yourself. Giving yourself something, not taking it away.

Dieting is about telling you a thin body is better than a fat body no matter what you do to get there. That is SO effed up.

Obviously there are some plans which are healthier than others, ones which encourage moderate exercise and eating lots of fruit, veg, lean meats, fish and good fats. Then there are meal replacement shakes, meal replacement bars and other such plans where all good sense goes out of the window. I've been there. Doing one meal replacement snack bar diet as a teenager, I was so hungry I had to crawl downstairs on my hands and knees in the middle of the night to eat a slice of bread as I was in so much pain I couldn't actually stand up. Doing the milkshake meal replacement diet was equally as disastrous. Starving yourself and depriving yourself of vital nutrients isn't going to make for sustainable weight loss. Of course it isn't, that's the point! If you 'fail' they want you to think it's because you're greedy and useless, not that their product is designed to make you yo-yo in a cycle of self-loathing, coming back time and time again to give them money. BILLIONS of pounds are made every year off the back of the suffering and shame of people who want to be something other than what they are now. Compound that with a media who want everyone to hate themselves (as that keeps you miserable and spending) ESPECIALLY if you're 'fat' (i.e. anything over a size 12) and female, then it's no wonder it's so hard to think positively about ourselves.

It's about encouraging you to self-loathe, which is an effed up place where only the diet companies win. You can't possibly succeed from a place where you're told you're disgusting at every turn. Dieting is not about health. It's about money and control. It's about making you believe only slim people deserve good things in life. It's about putting the idea into your head that the moment you hit goal weight the sky will fill up with glitter and puppies and it'll rain down on you, and the man who comes to your rescue from all the slobbering puppies will be the ONE. Puhlease. When people lose a couple of stones and say 'I was a beast before!' it makes me sad, but we're all encouraged to do it. It's so insidious, and I was just the same as anyone, before Tumblr.

If you want to lose weight, great, amazing, good luck to you, just don't fall prey to the temptation to slate your 'before' off. You're still you, whatever you weigh. You're still deserving of love and respect. In fact, I think if you realise your worth before you embark on a fitness goal, you'll probably do better, but that's just my 2 cents. I love how Dawn French said after she lost loads of weight that she thought she looked great before and she thinks she still looks great now. I like that attitude. I think it's healthy. I base my self-worth on a lot more than the way I look, which I think is healthy, too. I base it on knowing I'm funny, caring, reasonably smart, and fun to be around. I base it on my constant quest to learn more about life and myself and on trying to become a better person inside (and gawd knows I need the help!) I base it on the great group of people I have around me - my husband, my family and friends who are all so awesome that I must be pretty damn awesome too ;) Too much credence is given to looks in society, which is really sad. I feel strongly the focus should be on health. This is crucial to me and I think there's a difference between going on a diet to LOOK better, and living a healthy lifestyle to FEEL better.

I have to say in the spirit of disclosure I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle. Lifestyle. I'm not starving myself. If I want to have a pizza, I'll have a pizza. If I want to eat my bodyweight in salad, I will. The key is to make my choices free enough that it doesn't feel like I'm punishing myself. I'm not accountable to some cult-esque diet guru once a week. I'm accountable to me. I'm eating well (lots of fruit and veg, lean meats, fish, good oils, trying to eat organic where possible) and doing yoga as often as I feel able (4 times this week.) Shrinkage might come as a result, but my 'goal' comprises of  keeping my health markers where they are now - great blood pressure, low 'bad' cholesterol, etc. and feeling great. Also, I make no bones about the fact that I want to be a mum. I'm getting older - I'm 38 - so my chances of conceiving are getting slimmer by the day, pardon the pun. Also, Fibromyalgia is likely to be slightly exacerbated by the extra weight on my joints. I'm realistic. I don't expect to be skipping through a sunny meadow every day if I lose a bit of weight. I don't expect Jason Momoa to declare his undying love if I drop a clothes size or three - although that'd be nice, but we might need a bigger bed to squeeze him in ;) I'll still have Fibro, CFS and all their little buddies. I'm not deluded enough to think life will suddenly become perfect, but if my changes are enough for me to get pregnant then great. It took me years to get where I am today, and I'm all about the slow burn in reverse. I don't actually know what my destination is, other than it's a point where I feel great. It's not a clothes size, it's not a weight. If I don't lose any weight but have great health markers and am healthy from eating loads of healthy food and doing regular exercise, then that's fine too. Doctors love to ram horror stories down our necks to keep us compliant little lambs, but many fat people live a long life free of illness and disease.

I will not be a better person if I lose weight.
I will not be liked or loved more BY ANYONE WHO MATTERS if I lose weight.
I will not be a failure if I don't lose weight.
I will still be me, whatever happens, and I am worthy of love and all good things.
So are you, whatever you weigh and whatever you look like.
Think kindly of yourself, you deserve it.

In my next personal blog, I will talk about self-care and the things that make me feel good about myself.

Thanks for reading!

TL;DR. Restrictive dieting=bad, taking wonderful care of yourself=good.