March 26, 2014 by Kara Nichols
My dietician friend recommended I read the book Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon, based on the fact that I’ve been dieting for so many years and I’m trying to get off of that crazy train. I’m half way through the book and already my mind has been blown. Linda challenges modern myths about dieting and what it means to be healthy. For example, did you know that it’s scientifically proven that on average “overweight people” live longer than “normal weight people”? Or what about that fact that biology dictates that most people regain the weight they lose, even if they continue their diet and exercise plans? It’s true. I’d go into further detail but I think you should just buy the book instead of taking my word for it.
This really stood out to me as I was reading last night:
“Brainstorm other solutions for every problem you think weight loss will solve. For instance, if you think losing weight is the only way you’ll ever get a promotion, meet someone special, or I won’t be able to wear cute clothes if I don’t lose weight or be able to go to the beach, brainstorm other ways you can reach these goals.”
Here goes nothing. My brainstorming solutions:
1. I won’t be able to wear cute clothes if I don’t lose weight. This is a total myth, I’m realizing. The truth is, I’ve never been into short dresses, even at my lightest, so why do I envy girls in short dresses? And the notion that cute clothes aren’t available in my size is simply wrong. Right now I fit into most XL clothes, so I can wear “normal” clothes. This was a big deal to me as I was losing weight on Medifast and it still is. But even if I was bigger, Lane Bryant has super cute stuff. In fact, I still shop there now even though I technically don’t have to! If I wear dumpy clothes like sweat pants all of the time, it’s my personal issue now, it’s not because of weight. Cute clothes are totally out there. Now if I regain the 65 pounds I lost, I will have to revisit this, because it seems like no matter WHAT I wore when I was at my heaviest, I felt awful about myself. This is something I plan to deal with in therapy.
2. God won’t be pleased with me until I am a size 8. It felt funny to even write that out but the truth is that I’ve thought things like this. Wouldn’t He love me more if I was smaller? Isn’t being smaller the most important thing? I surely have lived as if that were true – spending day after day trying to eat my way thin and night after night crying in bed because I wasn’t skinny. This is particular point is one I don’t feel like I have all the answers for yet. The verses that come to mind are ones like “Your body is the temple of the Lord, don’t defile it” but then again in Matthew we are told: “”Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Wow. Life should definitely be about more than food and clothes, but lately I haven’t been living that. And I know God wants me to spend my time loving Him and others. If I got to size 8 I might turn into to a vain, self-centered person. Well, more than I already am, that is.
And then I think about Satan and how happy it must make him when I spend my time worrying about what I should eat and wear and beat myself up for not being perfect. It must make his day when I hate on myself. He is the father of lies and repeatedly tells me that I’m not good enough, while God is the one in my corner, not condemning, but loving me just as I am. Jesus paid the price of perfection so that I could find hope in my imperfections while Satan tempts me to pursue perfection even though it’s impossible.
3. My family and friends won’t accept me if I give up dieting. I mean, what else is there to even talk about? I’m always asking people what their latest diet plan is and what book I should read next or what their secret is to being thin. On bad eating days, I get an attitude when a friend ask’s about my diet. And the only reason she asks is because just the day before I had been raving about how good I was doing living on protein bars and cabbage. Will they still love me if I remain my current size? Will they truly accept me? Or will I be rejected if I finally give up on diets? I guess it’s telling what kind of people I hang out with if they would disown me for being overweight, but the thought still crosses my mind and leads me to my next point:
4. What’s my identify if I’m no longer a dieter? If I give up the dream of being thin? Because I started dieting and doing cleanses at such a young age I don’t really have anything to compare my current state of mind to. I don’t know what kind of person I would be if I wasn’t obsessed with the number on the scale. I imagine more relaxed, happy, and actually able to enjoy eating food. Maybe I’d get serious about learning how to cook. I bet I would be a better daughter, sister, and friend. Maybe I could fill up that room in my mind that has been dedicated to weight loss to other things – like my relationship with God and others, or you know, maybe a new hobby like knitting.
5. I won’t be able to fly in an airplane comfortably. The last time I was on a plane was almost exactly four years ago when I moved from Oregon to Virginia in 2010. The last leg of the trip was on a TINY plane and I was spilling out of the seat. I just BARELY got myself buckled in and I probably should have asked for a seat belt extender, but I don’t think I even knew about those at that time. Thankfully I wasn’t sitting by anyone but I was very uncomfortable and I was already feeling miserable about moving across country. I’m at least 30 pounds lighter than I was on that flight so I’m not sure I would have any issues today. I fly to Portland in September and I am already kind of stressed out about it, but I shouldn’t have a problem, unless I regain all of the weight I’ve lost. I think my solution for flying if I was heavier would either to buy a first class ticket or buy two seats (I guess I would be rich in this scenario). But if I really wanted to go somewhere I could make the sacrifice. I think I will always be hesitant to fly no matter what my size.
6. I’ll never meet a man and fall in love because I’m not thin. This is such backwards thinking in my case because I have a had a number of awesome relationships throughout the years, all of which I wore a size 18 or up to a size 24. One guy even said “You’re the biggest girl I’ve ever dated” and I wasn’t offended. He was just being honest and I think my inner qualities impressed him so much that it didn’t bother him what size I was. Maybe he actually LIKED my size. I’m still hoping to fall in love and get married someday, but it’s no longer a main focus in my life. If it happens, it happens. I know now that love is possible at every size.
7. Weight loss won’t make me an extrovert. I used to believe that once I finally got skinny I would be the life of every party. But the truth is I don’t like parties – irregardless of my size. But it’s easy, when I’m thinking about all of the reasons to lose weight, to let this one creep in there. I’m an introvert. I used to want to change that but now I’m totally working it! All of those cheesy internet memes have actually helped me accept myself. Hahah.
There are a few other things to put on this list, but I will keep them private because my mom reads my blog (Hi mom!) and I don’t want to embarrass her. This was a great exercise and if you are battling with your weight I recommend you make a similar list. You might just find out that being thin won’t solve all of your problems like you’ve believed for years. And maybe, just maybe, happiness is possible at the size you are right now, today, this minute.