Throughout December we are encouraged to indulge ourselves, have fun and, maybe more than anything else, eat. Christmas meals, parties, advent calendars, the big Christmas dinner itself. We spend about six weeks surrounded by food, and it can be hard to get through without losing yourself in a binge, a restriction, a purge, or maybe just a feeling that you’re doing something wrong. This isn’t the case for everyone, but for those it affects, Christmas is a real bitch.
What can be worse, though, is the post Christmas shame that media and advertisers help us feel. Before we’ve digested Christmas lunch, we’re acutely aware of the fitness DVDs, the sports bras, the trainer sales and the Special K advert already being aired. Fresh Start. New Year, New You. Resolutions that are basically just a weight goal and a FitBit.
Weight gain and weight loss fucks me up. If you don’t feel guilt, shame, depression, or that your self esteem is heavily attached to how much you weigh, that’s cool. But this is for those who do feel guilt when the number on the scale starts increasing, or their jeans get tighter than they remember. When this stuff can ruin your day, there are options other than losing a few pounds via self hate and hunger.
I’m writing this largely as a reminder to myself to not buy into the January bullshit. If anyone else needs it too, that’s a major bonus.
So, where to begin with all this? I mean, it’s not like we can avoid all media. Or, at least, I can’t. I will definitely end up bumping into some sort of weight loss, perfection promoting advert sooner or later. I will definitely stare at my body and think, “Oh dear, if only this bit were different.”
My first suggestion would be not to avoid all of this (it is, after all, definitely around), but to actively seek out body positivity. Body positivity, as far as I understand it, is the idea that it’s possible (and useful) to like your body. There is no condition, there is no too big or too small, there’s no ideal shape or weight goal. There is only your body, and it’s already lovable, attractive, and good enough. Body positivity is about working towards seeing that. Changing your mindset, rather than changing your body to fit into what you currently believe is the best and most ideal body size and shape.
For me, this is a challenge. I have a pretty solid idea of how my body should look, constantly reaffirmed by those around me. When I am skinnier, I receive praise and compliments. When I am larger, I receive suggestions for easier weight loss and questions about what has happened.
When I decided to lose weight for my wedding, I successfully awakened the monster in me that always wanted me to lose a little more weight and be a little bit thinner. Every meal or indulgent snack felt like a failure, and even when I had no conscious desire to get any smaller, I continued to weigh myself daily and base my mood that day on what number came up on the scale. It had to stop.
So, with this new year, and a reminder of the pressure I’m likely to feel around weighing myself, I’m trying to make a commitment to body positivity. In all of its fickle glory. I will be following instagram accounts of people who encourage me to love my body as it is, not as it could be. I will be practising intuitive eating, and eating what I crave when I want to, rather than counting calories or giving myself an allowance based on my weight. I’m trying to listen to my own body and trust myself, instead of relying on an app to tell me how many calories I have left to eat today, and what my macros are.
In an attempt to help push the message, I thought I’d leave you with a little toolkit of goodness –
- Follow @bodyposipanda on Instagram and Youtube
- Download this free printable to help remind you to love yourself
- Give yourself compliments often – every day if you can