Purveyor of Pleasure

Delving into my humanity and the joys and pitfalls of an overanalytical nature.

Being Size-Positive but Still Wanting to Lose Weight

This is something I know a lot of people struggle with. It’s something I’ve struggled with before because I was looking at things from the wrong perspective. Something I’ve written about before a long while ago is the idea of size vs. health. I still think this is true. The idea of being size-positive is, in my mind, about promoting health at every size as well as allowing yourself to love your body at the size it is, regardless of whether you are working to change your body or not.

Advertising society wants us to hate our body the way it is so they can promote their product and we will want to buy it. If we feel incomplete as people and have been told that in order to be complete we must consume than that is exactly what we will do. We are taught it’s okay to shame fat people, that being fat is a choice because it’s “so easy” to lose weight. Obviously it’s easy, otherwise it wouldn’t be a billion plus dollar industry and we wouldn’t have diet pills and other “easy” ways to lose weight that may or may not actually work for you but will almost definitely not be healthy. It’s difficult to escape from those pressures that are put on us, the capitalism, body-hatred, and, really, self-hatred that is sewn in to our cores.

We are also taught that in order to change our body we must hate it, you can’t lose weight and love or be happy with your body, those two things cannot coexist according to the values of society, but I say this is wrong. You can love your body and be actively wanting to change it, but it requires a consciousness shift. Unfortunately that includes giving up the idea that losing weight is going to be quick and simple, because if it’s quick and simple it’s usually not healthy and won’t last.

Because I love my body I want to be healthier. I am actively trying to get healthier, which does, for me, include losing weight. Not everyone needs to lose weight in order to be healthier, no matter what size you are. I’m looking at weight loss as a by-product of becoming healthier, not the end-product. Looking at weight loss as the end-product can lead to unhealthy habits.

I have lost about twenty five pounds in the last six plus months, I’ve been doing it slowly and I am not doing it in a way that is unhealthy or (hopefully) going to rebound on me. It’s not as simple as eating less and exercising more, people say that to fat people all the time but, unless they are fat themselves, they don’t really understand what that means. Fat bodies store fat in different ways, otherwise you couldn’t have two people eating the exact same diet (and I don’t mean “diet” in the sense of “weight-loss diet” but in the sense of “what we eat”) and becoming different sizes, hell I know many skinny people who eat way worse than I do, yet weigh over a hundred pounds less than I do.

In a way I’ve been eating better and exercising more, but it’s more than that. I had been doing that for years, actually. I started seeing a personal trainer in 2008 and I wouldn’t say I’m exercising any more now than I was then, but I wasn’t losing weight then and I am now. I wasn’t eating much different than I am now either, and yet now I’m losing weight and then I was staying the same. A few periods in time in the last few years I tried calorie counting and was eating under what my calorie intake should be to maintain my current weight along with doing a fair amount of exercise. I was drinking lots of water. I was going to the gym at least three times a week doing, usually at very least an hour and a half each day. And yet I wasn’t losing weight and I am now. What’s different? I would say my attitude is different and I’m less depressed, and that alone is probably the reason for the shift. The brain is powerful. There are many other factors as well, and although I’m eating similarly there are probably some different eating habits, but it’s hard to quantify, and I know that is not the entirety of it.

Back to the point I’m really trying to make for a moment, though. We can love our body and want to change it, the two ideas are not mutually exclusive, it’s all about looking at it from a different and, dare I say it, healthier point of view. Most people who try to lose weight are doing it from a place of body-hatred so they end up going on extreme diets or making radical changes which will not hold up in the long run. Six or so years ago I lost upwards of fifty pounds by changing my eating habits pretty drastically. I was still in “plus size” clothes, but I could shop at “small size” clothing stores mostly without a problem (I was around a 14/16), but just like most diets it didn’t last and I ended up gaining around a hundred pounds over the next five or so years.

I’m slowly working my way down, but I think that mental health is drastically overlooked when we look at weight loss. Our mind needs to be on board and we have to find ways that work for us as individuals, encourage positive reinforcement, not think in absolutes, etc. There isn’t some magical formula that you can apply and make weight disappear, it won’t happen overnight or in a month, and if it does it probably won’t last. Eating less and exercising more isn’t the answer, eating better (notice I didn’t say “less”) and exercising more is a good start, but only if it’s something you can do forever.

If we love our body, if we can love our lives and come to existence from a generally positive point of view than we can achieve more than otherwise, and do it in a better and healthier way. Health is extremely important, and you don’t need to be “small sized” in order to be healthy, and you can be size-positive and still want to be healthier.

A side note: the automatic reaction, I think, when someone expresses losing weight is to congratulate them regardless of how they did it, if it was healthy or unhealthy, etc. I think this is bullshit and simply perpetuates sizeist ideas. Next time you have the urge to do that I suggest you try finding out the underlying reasons for the weight loss rather than assuming it’s a good thing and congratulate their healthy activities rather than their weight loss itself.

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8 Comments

  1. Bravo! I’ve been working on being healthier the past few months too. I think I’ve stuck to the healthy eating because I do let myself indulge in moderation – so I don’t feel any food is “off limits” but I look at it in terms of the calories taken in vs how happy eating that food will make me. Much of the time I opt for the healthier option because I want to be healthy and that makes me happier.

    I agree that we need size positivty along with letting people healthily lose wreight if that is what they think they need. I agree that mentality counts for a lot.

    • Argh, I typed a response to you but not being used to my new laptop yet I did something and my computer ate it. Here goes again…

      I remember you mentioning that you are working on being healthier, good for you! The way you are thinking about it is excellent, too, of course. Whenever we put something “off limits” we tend to just want that thing more, which is why going cold turkey generally doesn’t work either. Indulging in moderation is a good part of that, and what I’ve been doing too.

      I like what you said about thinking about “how happy eating that food will make me.” This is something I’ve been keeping in mind a lot, especially looking at the short-term yummy-happiness vs. long-term health-happiness, the differences thereof, and trying to prioritize the latter. While I have been allowing myself to get a few cupcakes or some other indulgent sweet especially I’ve been mindful of what else I’m eating alongside/before/after them and trying to make sure there is some sort of balance there. No need to completely cut ourselves off from the yummydelicious foods all together!

  2. I couldn’t agree more. I have always struggled with weight and self-image, because even as a child I was stockier than most of the cute, delicate girls. That never changed as I grew up. I struggled with self-hate and tried to find ways that I could drop the weight and be like the “skinny crowd.”

    Well, my body just isn’t meant to be skinny. So I found self-acceptance and have finally also realized that it isn’t about any number on a scale; it’s about being healthy and being comfortable in my own skin. And finally, with that knowledge, I have been able to embrace a healthier lifestyle that isn’t about losing weight, per se, just about being comfortable, healthy and happy. It’s about taking care of myself and not making myself susceptible to the many weight-related illnesses that run in my family. And yeah, I’ll admit, I’m looking a little better when I’m nekkid, but that’s just an added benefit to being sound of mind, sound of body and sound of soul.

    • Well, my body just isn’t meant to be skinny. So I found self-acceptance and have finally also realized that it isn’t about any number on a scale; it’s about being healthy and being comfortable in my own skin.

      Yes, definitely! This is how I feel about it too. I still have dreams of fitting in to my “skinny clothes” (which are around a size 14/16) all the methods I’ve really tried before have never worked or not stuck, I’m really not doing that much different now and yet I’m losing weight, which is strange to me, but I think it has to do with another thing you said: being sound of mind, sound of body and sound of soul.

      Oh, and next time you two come up here we will have to go out dancing at Century Ballroom! Maybe we could go to a yoga class the next morning too. =D

  3. I LOVE THIS. Thank you very much for finding the words for what I have been trying–unsuccessfully–to articulate for a long time now.

    I have been accused of fat-shaming because I decided I didn’t want to be fat anymore. I’ve lost 60 pounds over the last year-and-a-half, and aside from the surface benefits, I have found that mentally, I am healthier. I am no longer on blood pressure meds. My body feels strong, and I don’t sick as often. I have found that I like exercising–not as a means to an end (losing weight) but because it clears my head after a long day at work, and helps me sleep better at night.

    If you don’t mind, I am going to link this post on my own blog. More people need to read it!

    • Yay! You’re very welcome, and I don’t mind at all, in fact I love link-love. =)

      Congrats on becoming healthier and feeling better about yourself! It sounds like you and I are definitely on the same wavelength and I’m glad my post made sense and resonated with you, I love when that happens.

  4. Taryn

    As a former dance who was generally bigger than the other girls, I have never got the ‘fat girl’ out of my head. This is in direct contrast to my upbringing which taught me that it’s more important to be healthy than skinny.

    I guess in the long run my upbringing is winning out. Now when I feel rubbish about my body, I merely have to go on a health kick. I rarely lose any weight, but I always end up feeling better about myself.

  5. It’s taken me about 2 years to convince my Doctor that I can be fat and healthy. He’s still not there but he is constantly reminded when I have my blood tests that they are perfectly normal.

    I too am losing weight to feel and be healthier. I enjoy being plus-sized but I know that I can be a healthier plus! Thank you for voicing what should be said.

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