There’s a lot of talk about the fact that losing weight and still loving your body, or being ‘body positive’ can go hand in hand but I’d like to take a minute to discuss that, in fact, they absolutely can.
Changing your viewpoint on your body, from being something that needs to be smaller to fit some sort of outdated ideal, to a machine which allows you to walk, run, jump, swim, be healthy, can be mind altering. Once you change your mindset, it can open up a whole new world, one which previously, you perhaps weren’t aware of.
Changing Your Mindset
Ever since I did the Couch to 5K, I’ve come to view my body as a machine, one that allows me to power through each run, a body with all different functions that comes together to get me from the beginning of the run, to the end.
My mindset has a lot to do with the feeling of allowing myself to lose weight whilst still loving my body throughout all of its changes. This isn’t to say I didn’t love it before, it was just buried underneath some extra lockdown cookies!
Wanting to better myself has nothing to do with having to lose the lockdown weight or bowing down to society's pressures that are placed upon us just because we happen to be female! Men also feel this pressure, perhaps just not as acutely as women do, unfortunately.
I’ve been following my Weight Watchers plan for two weeks now and I’ve already lost 10lbs. I can see the difference in my body already and I’m excited to see where I’ll be in another two weeks time. Like I said in my last post, I’m not feeling the same pressures that I did previously, I’m in a pretty good headspace this time around and it feels good to be here.
I’m a diet culture dropout so am definitely not on this diet and exercise plan because I feel the need to lose weight! I suppose you could say that, given the fact I piled on the lockdown pounds and now I’m trying to get rid of them, but I’ll counter that by saying that I’ve made this conscious choice to be healthy and to see what my body can do.
I’ve really come to love running and always feel better afterwards, despite what happens during the time I’m outside! I’ve pushed my body in terms of pace, distance, time and so it’s with this knowledge that I can do longer runs and sign up for the Race for Life! And perhaps even a 10K Race in July!
Back in the day, when I joined Weight Watchers for the first time, I was craving thinness. Craving the feeling of jutting bones, of a flat stomach and fitting into clothes whose size label dictated how I’d feel that day. I craved a loss at every weigh in and blamed myself if it was anything other than a lower number showing than last week.
Getting compliments on my new body made me want to continue and see if I could hit that magical number, which seemed to change every week! Never happy for the one I saw on the scales.
This time around I have a much healthier approach to it. Everything I do, from my runs to food tracking, is because I want my body to be healthier. To be able to carry me around everyday and allow me to run for longer each time. I also run for everyone that can’t, for everyone who’d love to be able to put on foot in front of the other and for the very fact, that I can.
I want to be able to use my body whilst I can, to not take it for granted everyday, to see what it can do and help protect myself for the future. To look back when I’m older and say that, yes, I did make the most of my body when I had the ability!
I also know myself. I know that I need some sort of restriction in place so that I don’t go overboard with my eating. I love to snack but since starting to track my food and have a certain points value in place for everyday, means that I don’t do this anymore! But this doesn’t mean that I’m denying myself treats though, so don’t you worry!
Following a healthy eating and exercise regime has given me a new found respect and love for my body which I just didn’t have before. I’m no longer craving thinness and seeing this as the be all and end all of life! I know better than that and can take this knowledge with me whilst I navigate this new territory. It’s kind of like having the map when previously you were walking around blind!
I don’t lie to myself or on my tracking app. I try to track absolutely everything, even if it takes me over my allowance for the day or takes some of my weekly points away from me. I just have to be better next time and choose things more wisely going forward.
In the past I’ve hated my body and wanted to shrink it to beyond its limits. Thought thinness was the pinnacle of health. Got caught up in all the hype surrounding the myth that ‘nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels’ when in fact, food is actually quite delicious. I was caught up in diet culture and thought I had to be smaller than my body allowed.
This can be a dangerous trap to be caught up in and whilst you’re in it, there seems to be no way out. Social media and adverts in magazines and T.V don’t help matters, representation isn’t where it should be by any stretch of the imagination and at times it can feel like society has more of a grip over us than even we realise.
It can be easy to get caught up in this hamster wheel, but thankfully, the rise of body confidence/positive/midsize accounts over on Instagram has helped turn this around. Ditching diet culture and picking up body acceptance/neutrality instead definitely gives a big middle finger to it for sure! Accepting your body how it is in the very moment can be hard, and don’t get me wrong, at first I couldn’t do this either.
The voices in my head were getting louder and the only way to shut them up, was to start taking my health seriously. Once I did this, they went away and left me free to start viewing my body as a machine which powers me through runs and long days at work.
Seeing my body change during this two week period has been amazing. I’m viewing it so differently and am not letting anyone tell me I should be smaller. (Despite the fact I’m on a healthy eating plan!) I’m perfectly OK the way I am now so why should I change, apart from to get healthier and push my body during a run?
Body confidence can ebb and flow just like a river. And with this, there are twists and turns and barriers which stop the river flowing where it wants to. But with everything, water goes wherever it can find a gap, fitting around/over any obstacle.
If a river is allowed to change course, then so should you be. The love you have for your body will naturally change over time and sometimes it will better than others, but you must believe in yourself and the power you have within yourself to change.