“Oh, how I wish to be thin. To look better in the clothes that I am in. To be a size six instead of a ten.”
That is a portion of a poem that I wrote in high school. During that time, I was the captain of the cheerleading team, an A+ student, and I was competing in beauty pageants. My size was everything to me.
As a result, I have been on some form of a diet to lose weight since I was about 13 years old, and this poem reflected my thoughts about my health and weight.
From using diet pills to suppress my appetite, to my brief stint with purging, I over-exercised, counted calories, and drastically reduced my calorie intake (at one point I was only eating 1000 calories a day). I ate a vegan diet for 10 years, didn’t eat after 8pm, reduced carbs, tried giving up sugar.
The list goes on — all in an attempt to lose weight, to take up less space, to be an acceptable size for a woman in this culture. I have never appreciated the size I was and was always seeking to be smaller. I didn’t really think about my actual health as much as I cared about the number on my clothes tag.
You can watch body positive warrior Taryn Brumfitt’s message about your body below. Post continues after video.
As an adult, the way to lose weight among my friends and family has become all about weight loss challenges. Every January and at the start of every summer, my social media timeline is flooded with weight loss challenges.
“Lose weight to win money!” “Lose weight to earn money!” “Get beach body ready!” “Get your revenge body!”
Although these challenges seem like they would be fun and supportive, what I don’t like about them is that their sole focus (just like the diet industry) is on weight as a marker for health. There is an assumption in our culture that fat is automatically unhealthy and thin is automatically healthy.
We don’t take into account things like genetics and ethnicity. We don’t ask how many push-ups a person can do or how fast someone can run. We don’t see people’s blood work or stress tests results. We don’t know how well people are sleeping or how their mental health is doing. We just see weight and automatically divide people into healthy or unhealthy, good bodies or bad bodies.
To my friends and family: Please, stop asking me to join your fitness weight loss challenge.
Although I am currently at the largest size I’ve ever been (including when I was pregnant), I am EXHAUSTED, and I am done having my focus be solely on losing weight. I am done feeling like a bad person because the number on the scale is higher than it was a year ago.
Instead, I have started to focus on my overall health and other types of fitness goals. I started taking pole dancing classes because, as easy as pole dancers make those tricks seem, they are hard. They take more physical strength than I sometimes think I’ll ever have. Pole classes push me to work on my flexibility and balance which is essential because as we get older, people end up breaking hips because they trip and can’t catch their balance or they have lost the mobility in their hips.