Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between giving up and accepting reality. We are bombarded with “inspirational” stories about people who persevered in the face of daunting obstacles only to come through the other side triumphant. We also hear about those who fail as well as those who give up and later regret it and vow never to be like them. But what about those who don’t regret it. Those who’ve make a decision that they are going to redefine success? We don’t hear much about those people and when we do we are left wondering if they’re just trying to justify their own failures or abandoned hopes.
Perhaps it is justification; how can we really tell when we’re in the thick of it? But at this moment in time, it doesn’t feel like giving up. It feels like accepting (again*) that I am more than a number on a scale or clothing tag. It feels like deciding that other areas of my life deserve more attention than the shape of my body. It feels like acknowledgement of the fact that the times I’ve actually improved my health, in real, measurable ways, were the times that I wasn’t at all concerned about losing weight.
You see that picture. That is neither a before picture nor a cautionary tale. That is a picture of a full and complete person, enjoying a getaway with her husband. A weekend that included hikes and spelunking, spa visits and scenic plane tours, romance and laughter. I see so many ads for diet plans on TV, in magazines and online that include a picture of a person who is overweight next to a picture of their new, better self. The before and after. They usually have an inspiring story about someone who was tired of sitting on the sidelines, tired of being left out, tired of feeling bad about themselves so they lost weight in order to enjoy life. Well, excuse me but FUCK that.
Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not disparaging anyone’s particular story and am genuinely glad that the people featured in these ads seem happier and healthier. What I am not overjoyed about is the idea that weight loss is a necessary element for it to happen. I am beyond pissed at these companies who prey on women (and increasingly men) and tell them they can be worthy of a good life if they just drink their shake, order their processed food or go to their meetings. Again, don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that the people who use these services are the problem. It’s the marketing of fat = misery, thin = all my problems are solved that I’m angry about.
I bought into it for a while and still find myself being drawn to some of the lingering ideas at times. But for the most part, I’m done with it. I will eat foods that are good for my body. I will move in ways that help make my body strong. I will not weigh or measure myself anymore. I am not a before.
*Yes, again. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to figure this out- I was slightly derailed by the discovery that I’m diabetic. My old notions about recovery from disordered eating were put to the test as I navigated through an entirely new kind of recovery. It’s really not a surprise that I lost my way and had to find my way back; this is common among most kinds of recovery. There is no reason to assume that setbacks equal failures. We don’t assume that with physical disease and shouldn’t with mental health issues either.