Tag Archives: weight

Weight loss worries: I’m done with the status quo

I realized early this morning that I have spent more years in my life being worried about my weight than I have spent years not being worried about my weight. This troubles me. I like the way I look right now. I like the way I eat (though I probably have a few too many sweets…). There are a few small changes I need to make for my health’s sake, but not necessarily for my weight’s sake (they are, contrary to popular belief, not always the same thing). So, why am I still constantly concerned about what I eat and what pant size I wear?  When does the worry end?

I know that as a woman in a Western country, I am technically expected to obsess about weight gain for the rest of my life.  The above realization about spending over half my life worrying about weight is hardly a unique one.  Most women (and many men) in America and other countries as well seem to feel as if the desire to lose weight is something to default to.  A few years ago, I was in a basic college PE class. There was a questionaire at the beginning about personal habits and such. One of the questions that I was required to answer was, “Are you committed to losing weight during this class?” Not “Do you want to lose weight?” or “Are you at a healthy weight?” or “What does you doctor say about your current weight?” but “Are you committed to losing weight…?” because the assumption is that we will always want to lose more, that our lives will be a constant fight against physical expansion.

Photo courtesy of Adpearance

But that seems so horrifying.  We must be constantly vigilant lest the numbers on the scales and on our clothing labels creep upward in the night.  We can’t think about food or exercise without ascribing moral implications to it.  Eating vegetables is “being good”; eating sweets is “downright sinful”.  Exercise addiction is the only addiction I can think of that is actively applauded despite the fact that no addiction is healthy.  Eating fresh food items is considered “eating clean”, which means that anything not in that category is dirty, right?

Too many people go through life feeling as if they have to earn any food they ingest. Too many people think that it’s okay to exercise or starve in order to eat this or that and that’s just tragic. Let’s get this straight: you deserve to eat food when you are hungry. Even if you just ate an hour ago. Even if you skipped the gym for an entire week or month or decade. Even if you look in the mirror and you hate what you see. You deserve to ingest nutrients; you deserve to treat your body with respect and to feed it so that it can continue to pump blood, breathe air, move, and heal itself.

I know that these concerns about eating and weight gain are considered natural and even healthy at times.  And I do think we should be mindful of what we are putting into our bodies. But mindful is not obsessive; mindful is not feeling as if you’ve sinned if you eat something with such-and-such calories or sugar or whatever; and mindful is certainly not feeling as if you have to make up for eating a cupcake by depriving yourself of food or by running for an hour.

Cherry red summer apple isolated on white

I know that as an American woman, it would not be unusual for me to spend the rest of my life battling it out with calories and weight gain and fat and cellulite. I’m supposed to fight this battle paying no mind to the fact that I look healthy, eat well, am strong and, with training, am able to do nearly anything physical that I want to do.  I’m not even sure what I’m battling the calories and the fat for any more.  Is it in a quest to feel good about myself? Is it in a quest to make someone else happy? Because obsessing about what I’m doing or not doing in the areas of food and exercise will not accomplish either of those things, and it certainly won’t make me any healthier as a person.

I know I’m supposed to worry about this until I reach an old age.

But I don’t want to any more.

What are your thoughts on the issue of weight loss obsession?

As an aside, I highly recommend this spoken word piece that’s been making the rounds on the Internet. Lily Myers speaks about this issue with eloquence and raw honesty:

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Dear Easter Candy

Dear Easter Candy,

I am in the midst of a tumultuous love-hate relationship with you. I love your sweetness, your chocolate-covered goodness, your this-doesn’t-even-taste-that-good-but-it-reminds-me-of-my-childhood-and-I-can-only-get-it-during-the-Easter-season quality. I could speak for long minutes about my ability to eat an entire package of Whoppers Robin Eggs in three days (and I’m not referring to the puny milk cartons, either), about how Reese’s Eggs are ultimately better than any other Reese’s product found during any other time of the year, and about the fact that, though entirely disgusting, sometimes I just want a marshmallow-filled chocolate egg.

I love you quite a bit, Easter Candy. I don’t know if it’s because my mother always went to great lengths to ensure her children would go into diabetic comas come Easter evening by constructing elaborate baskets for us. It might be because my grandmother always, always, always bought large bags of SweeTarts Bunnies, Ducks and Chicks (which everyone knows are far superior to normal SweeTarts). It might even be because my various Sunday School teachers shoved altogether gross Easter candy at me on Resurrection Sunday (which really distracts from focusing on Christ, but that’s another issue entirely). I’m honestly not sure of the exact reason why I love you so much. When I ponder about this, all my brain is giving me is visions of my great-grandmother, really weird marshmallow candies and the aforementioned SweeTarts products, so I suppose I can chalk it up to nostalgia.

My love is clearly genetic. Just last night, my father told me that, “Your mother went into some sort of trance on the Easter aisle at Wal Mart and bought about twenty pounds of candy.” This indicates to me that I may never be entirely free from the affection I have for you, Easter Candy. Personally, I am unashamed in my love for you, and I don’t care how long it lasts.

However, despite the love I hold for you in my heart, there are two areas of my life that are not pleased with you and all of your sugary goodness: my waistline and my wallet. My waistline is not particularly appreciative of the fact that a peanut-butter-filled egg jumped into my hand as I walked through the grocery store last week. It is similarly dissatisfied with the ridiculous Easter Candy Feast I had about a month ago involving myself, three days, a Reese’s Egg, a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs and a bag of Whoppers Robin Eggs. It has decided that you need to go.

My wallet is also throwing a fit. The fact that I cannot walk into any grocery store that sells you without donating at least a dollar to some sort of filled egg or rabbit is annoying my wallet quite a bit. And, I have to admit, it makes a good point.

It is for their sake, my waist and my wallet, that I feel we need to spend some time apart. I love you, as you know, but it isn’t entirely healthy for me to be around you all of the time. I must bid you a temporary adieu. It will be difficult, but it is necessary.

Thanks for all of the memories and lovely, sweet goodness.

Sincerely,
Chelsea

P. S. If all goes well, we can arrange a secret meeting. This Sunday. At the Easter basket my mother has no doubt thrown together for me. Be there.