I got an excellent question from a reader:
I need to lose weight due to health reasons. Partly because I have thyroid-issues, but also because I am on certain medications that lead to fluid retention that is worsened due to my size.
HOW IN THE WORLD do I strive towards being body positive, stopping the dieting-bullshit and accepting myself, WHILST trying to lose weight?!
I cannot get this figured out.
I want to be happy, accepting of my body and healthy at my any size.
I am so scared of getting caught up in my old eating disorders (former anorexic and bulimic) that I am not doing anything at all.
Marie from Sweden
Thank you so much for such a great question, and I am so sorry you’re in a dilemma. It's ok to feel like you want to lose weight, we live in a society that tells us repeatedly being thin equals being healthy. Let’s see if we can help you figure out what to do.
First, let’s start with some truths:
· Diets don’t “work”. 95% of diets fail and of the 5% that do lose weight it’s normally only a small amount, and no study follows that 5% long term to see if the weight stayed off.
· Dieting hurts us physically and mentally. Yo-yo dieting (or weight cycling), hurts our bodies. Dieting is wildly traumatic for our bodies. We are teaching our bodies that we are living in food scarcity and so it clings onto every calorie it can. Dieting, like you mentioned, is very problematic leading to disordered eating patterns or even full blown eating disorders.
· Buying into diet culture is advocating for the erasure of fat bodies, which is anti-body positive. Body positivity is rooted in fat positivity, so to be body positive you need to be down with fatness. Our weight naturally fluctuates up and down which is totally normal, but intentional weight loss is 100% not body positive.
· Health and weight are not correlated. Just because you are fat does not necessarily mean you are unhealthy. On the flip side, being thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Health at Every Size is a concept that teaches us that any body can be healthy without intentional weight loss.
· Even if you are fat and unhealthy; you don’t owe health to anyone. If you want to make health a priority, or not, that is your choice, and neither is morally superior.
It seems like health is a priority for you, so instead on focusing on losing weight, why not focus on healthful behaviours?
We know dieting doesn’t work and is actually is harmful for us, so why put yourself through that torture and waste your hard earned money on the $64 billion dollar diet industry that thrives on you being a repeat customer. However, focusing on joyful movement, eating food that makes our brains and bodies happy, and working on mental health is positive for us.
Think if you were thin, what would you do to improve your health? Do those things. Fat is not a disease, it’s just a totally normal way of being.
You can work on becoming “healthy” without ever intentionally losing a single pound.
Here are some great examples of incredible women who are fat athletes, or fathletes if you need proof that you can be fat and fit:
Louise Green - Badass personal trainer and TEDx speaker.
Roz “The Diva” Mays - Pole dancer.
Sarah Robles - Olympic weightlifter, strongest women in America.
Leah Gilbert - Endurance athlete.
Jessamyn Stanley - Yoga teacher.
So in summary: You should consider not making weight loss a goal. It will hurt you in numerous ways and is anti - body positive. Instead focus on the ways that you could feel fabulous in your body, and do those things, if you want. Remember you don’t owe health to anyone, it’s your body and your choice.