I was working out at the gym a couple days ago when a person I don’t know came up to me and said “Don’t give up, you can lose that weight”.
So I said back “Don’t give up, can learn what is and is not appropriate interaction with strangers”. I know it probably would have been wise to go for the teachable moment but I’m not made of stone and sometimes when you catch me offguard (like when I’m doing high intensity intervals, sweating like a farm animal, monitoring my heart rate, my speed, my incline, and trying not to fall off the machine as I test the upper limits of how fast it can go) you get the first thing that comes into my head.
I continue to be frustrated that we are constantly sold…sorry, I mean told… that we need to lose weight – something that nobody can prove is possible, for a reason nobody can prove is valid. Trying to do that and failing for your whole life is not healthy (in fact more and more studies show that yo-yo dieting is more unhealthy for you than being obese).
Mark Twain said “If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again. Then quit, no use being a damn fool about it”.
Look, when I was a little kid I wanted to fly because I hated riding the bus to school. A couple falls off our big metal fence and a quick physics lesson from my mom helped me understand that flying wasn’t possible for me – no matter how badly I wanted to do it or how much better it would ostensibly make my life. Even if everyone in the world would have said that my life would be better if I could fly, it was just never going to happen. So I could keep falling off the roof, or I learn how to work a bus ride. (It turns out, for example, that you can’t do your homework while you fly – but you can sure as hell do it on the bus.)
For me, choosing Body Positivity (or Health at Every Size, or Size Acceptance or whatever you call it) is not saying “I give up on my health”. It’s saying that I care about my health – mental and physical. I care about it enough to do some research and from that research I conclude that dieting doesn’t work.
So I care enough about my mental and physical well being that, even thought people tell me it’s crazy, I’m going to check out of this ridiculous cultural norm that we have where everyone hates their body and spends their whole life talking about how awful it is, and trying to change the size and shape of it.
I give up alright. I give up on doctors who tell me to lose weight to cure whatever is wrong with me BEFORE they do any tests (like the time when My Doctor Tried to Kill Me). I give up on the diet industry- I think I’ll keep my money and my sanity, you bloodsucking leeches. I give up on the diet industry’s message that unhealthy behaviors (liquid diets, starvation, stimulants, double double bacon burger extra cheese, hold the bun) will lead to a healthy body. I give up on starving. I give up on ignoring my body’s signals for things like hunger and fatigue. I give up on treating it like a limitation instead a trusted friend. Most of all, I give up on hating myself. I am many things, but I am not a damn fool.