If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that my content has changed a little recently. Where my posts were once about 90% relating to weight loss (specifically Slimming World), that focus has slowly dwindled, and now it’s not part of my social presence at all.
Let me give you a bit of background. I’ve been ‘overweight’ for pretty much as long as I can remember, moving from just overweight to pretty bloody overweight and back again a number of times. Having never really made any effort to change this, around 2.5 years ago I joined my local Slimming World group, and started working towards what I thought would be my ‘goal weight’.
If you’re not familiar with Slimming World, it’s basically a weight loss group/diet plan that categorises food into 3 groups:
Free food: Low fat, high energy food which can be eaten in unlimited amounts. Includes fruit, veg, lean meat, pasta, potatoes, rice & fat free yogurt.
Healthy extras: High fibre and high calcium foods that must be eaten in measured amounts. Includes wholemeal bread, some cereal, cheese and milk.
Syns: Everything else! Basically anything not covered by the other two groups, including chocolate, crisps, alcohol, oil and avocado. You are encouraged to use 5-15 syns a day.
Basically, the ‘lifestyle plan’ (or diet, to you and me), focusses on low fat food – but not necessarily on low sugar or high nutrition. As time went by and my weight dropped (I’d lost nearly 4 stone the last time I checked), I’m kind of sad to admit that I felt happier and so much more confident. It’s only recently that I have begun to understand how fucked up that really is.
Yeah, not sure what happened here… I was pretty gutted, but I'm just getting right back on it with a new week, and hopefully the scales will be kinder to me next time! #slimmingworld #slimmingworldfamily #slimmingworldfriends #maintain #weightloss #progress #weighday #weighin #saturday #fitness #health #healthylifestyle
You see, whilst being bigger hasn’t stopped me from living a full life, it has always been in the back of my mind as something inherently ‘wrong’ with my body. Something I should change, should be embarrassed about, should hide underneath clothes that ‘flatter my shape’, and certainly not something to be proud of. It’s ‘unhealthy’, society says, yet somehow nobody batted an eyelid when I was following a diet that had me eating mountains of sweetener, bingeing on processed food without a thought, and saying ‘no’ to social events for fear of putting on half a pound. Whilst Slimming World did work for me, and I felt positive about my new found confidence and figure, something didn’t feel quite right. Trust me, when you’re close to tears because the vegetarian lasagne you just ate was a little over your daily ‘cheese allowance’, things are far from positive.
Everything in moderation
After finally unloading all of this stress and anxiety onto some very supportive friends (who couldn’t believe that Slimming World lets you eat unlimited Mullerlight yogurts, yet an avocado is off limits), something hit home. Low fat does not equal healthy. Depriving yourself does not equal healthy. Skinny does not necessarily equal healthy, and most importantly, MENTAL HEALTH IS HEALTH TOO. I got rid of the Frylight and sweetener, put away my scales, and filled my cupboards with food that Slimming World forbids. Nutritious avocados, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, dark chocolate, olive oil… I decided to listen to my body, instead of a company who – essentially – is making money off my insecurities. I stopped worrying about how many ‘syns’ might be in meals that my friends had kindly cooked me. I realised that everything is good in moderation, and stopped feeling guilty for eating wholesome, nutritious food.
Am I scared of putting on weight?
This is the part where I’d love to say that I don’t care if I put on weight again. Wouldn’t that be wonderful.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case yet, but I’m working on it and that’s okay; social constructs, like what constitutes ‘beauty’, aren’t easy to overcome, so it’s not going to happen in an instant. Whilst the way I’m eating is definitely a normal person’s definition of ‘healthy’, the mindset of Slimming World tells me that I am going to double in size because I’m not following their plan. I’m still scared that I am going to put on weight despite putting so many good things into my body, and I just have to remind myself that Slimming World is not the only way to eat well (in fact, some might argue that it’s not a way to eat well at all).
Body positive thinking
To be honest, my end goal (though it seems like a lifetime away) is to get to a point where I couldn’t care less whether I’m 9 stone or 20 stone, and don’t place any of my self worth on how big or small I am. Women who practice body positivity (and I still consider myself one of them, despite the obstacles I face!) are an incredible inspiration, and I’m trying to train myself to see my own body as I see theirs. That’s a real challenge, though, and I feel almost guilty for promoting ‘body positivity’ whilst still checking the mirror every day to see if my tummy has grown. All because I’ve started eating avocados instead of Curly Wurlys. That’s kind of shocking to me; I didn’t think it would be this hard.
The good news is that there are some incredible resources out there to help. Body positive bloggers, comedians and YouTubers (BodyPosiPanda, Sofie Hagen & Grace Victory to name a few!) are slowly helping me to change the way I think about my body, along with some incredible people who I know in ‘real life’ too. I adore podcasts such as The Guilty Feminist and Don’t Salt My Game, and am slowly-but-surely getting rid of diet culture promotors from my social accounts. It’s a challenge, but I know that once I get there, I will feel incredible. For now, though, I’ve shifted my focus from being thin to just being healthy, and I’m already so much happier!
Whew! That was a little longer than I anticipated. Thank you for reading this far if you did. I would love to hear everyone and anyone’s thoughts on this subject, as it’s something that I genuinely believe affects every single one of us in some way. Do you think you can be body positive and still want to lose weight? What is your biggest challenge when it comes to accepting yourself as you are? Please leave me a comment, or feel free to message me privately if you’d prefer. ?
All my love,