Beat the January blues
The Christmas decorations have been packed up in the loft, the mounds of chocolate we received are slowly being demolished and so far, so good, a week in and we're still sticking to our New Year resolutions. We tend to have this grand notion that we're going to completely transform ourselves each year and we'll be better this time around - for a lot of us, this idea comes under weight loss.
This is your reminder that you do not have to change yourself in order to love yourself. There is this magical concept that doesn't require a huge weight loss, a vegan diet or a gym membership. All it requires is a little bit of acceptance. Imagine, just being content with your present body - wouldn't that be lovely?
Changing your body will not bring you everlasting happiness - yes, it will most likely bring you temporary satisfaction because you will momentarily reach your goals but what happens when you 'slip up'? or this body isn't good enough for you anymore? If you are constantly relying on something so unstable and unpredictable such as your body which changes all the time, how can you expect it to bring you happiness every day?
Why are we so caught up on the concept that being skinnier and in 'better shape' will make us better humans, more worthy and more beautiful? Our bodies tell us nothing about who we are as people and our bodies certainly don't determine our worth. Once you finally let that concept go, everything becomes so much clearer and you can start to appreciate your body and appreciate yourself without always thinking about how to change it, which is totally exhausting, right?
It's all well and good saying you're going to lose weight for yourself, for your mental health, to make you happy and 'healthier' that's cool - but you're still trying to change your body. It doesn't matter how you sugar coat it, you're still contributing to diet culture and feeding that negative energy. You can make decisions for your health without thinking about your appearance - practice that and channel that instead if you want to lead a healthier lifestyle.
I've seen a lot on social media involving weight loss as self-improvement and being 'your best self' which I have a little bit of an issue with. This narrative implies that we are not already worthy of being our best selves or not reaching our full potential purely because of how we look. Which in simple words, is bullshit. Losing weight does not make you a different person - your values, emotions, memories, thoughts, laugh and morals will all remain the same. A few stones off the scale or an inch off your waist will not make all your dreams come true. Confidence comes with experience, with acceptance and with practice - it does not come in a smaller dress size. Essentially, when you are saying that you want to lose weight to make you feel more confident or happy when you look in the mirror, you are only feeding into this huge industry that wants to convince us that we should take up less space in this wonderful world. Our purpose on this earth isn't to lose weight - just look at what is happening in Australia, the Middle East and all over the world, there are far bigger problems than our reflection and we're wasting too much energy trying to fix what isn't broken. It really puts into perspective our priorities as a society.
What is truly going to change if you lose a bit of stomach fat or tone up your legs? Do you think you're going to fall in love? You're going to get that promotion you've been chasing? You're going to feel more complete? I know personally, that I truly believed that good things would come to me if I was skinnier. I naively thought that boys would like me, I'd fall in love, I'd go to uni feeling happy and confident and I'd do great things with my career - just with a skinny body. I didn't even consider that my mind, my soul or my ambition would get me there. I wish that someone was there to give me this outlook on life so that I would have saved myself so much energy and pain. I am happier now in my current body than I ever was anorexic, and I wish this peace on every single one of you.
If you want to pursue a healthier lifestyle, that's ok. No one is telling you that you must eat junk food and you must not exercise. There is very much a difference between health and diet culture; but the two often become intertwined in our minds. You can make health choices for your body and for your mind without thinking about how it will change your appearance. For some people, this is easy, and thoughts of body image doesn't register, they're not inclined to worry about their looks. But for others, it's hard to differentiate and when we make choices for our health, we think about how it will also aid our image. For example, I would walk to the shops instead of driving and rather than thinking the fresh air would be good for me, I would think about how many calories I would burn. If you feel like this is something you fall into, why not make it a habit to challenge those thoughts and re-learn those concepts of health and diet culture as your New Year resolution.
I cannot stress enough how much practice comes into this battle. Re-learning what we have believed to be true for all of our lives is so hard. It's not natural to challenge these embedded ideologies. But it is only with practice that it will become habit and natural to feel at peace with your body rather than wanting to change it. Like with any habit, you have to work on it consistently so whether it's writing down in a journal, speaking to yourself kindly in the mirror or researching / following this content online - do it.
One last thing I want to comment on is the Alexandra Cane Happy Body plan. I get really passionate about this kind of thing because it was such a prevalent influencer in my eating disorder, and I can't stand the thought of another young girl getting sucked in. I don't like the idea of bashing someone or talking about their journey because I don't know Alexandra, I'm sure she's lovely but I just want to point out a few things to consider when looking at her plan.
Alexandra was a huge body positive influencer beforehand, she promoted body acceptance and she branded herself as a role model for curvier women. But like a lot of influencers, she has given into society and profited from it. Let's be real, for starters she didn't need to lose weight.
Not only that, she has used two completely different photos to showcase her 'transformation'. The 'before' photo is one of her walking out of the sea with natural lighting compared to a studio photo of her posing isn't accurate - obviously she's going to look great after hair and makeup, probably a tan and meal prep for this photoshoot. But the main thing I have an issue with is that she repeatedly says that she did this for her mind and to get fitter yet all she does is post pictures of her body and talks about how great she feels and looks, how she's now a size 6 and had to throw all her clothes away and she's happier and more confident now. Sadly, as much as she may want it to come across as a plan for fitness and health, it's actually just coming across as a diet and I'm not about that. Rant over.
In essence, I just want you to know that January and the New Year does not have to equal a brand new you. You do not have to conform to the expectation that now is the time to lose weight. You can actually, just carry on with your year without wanting to change anything about your appearance. Revolutionary.
"How liberating is it to pursue wholeness over perfection"