Weight gain doesn't have to be the end of the world!
Why are we even talking about our bodies right now?! Unfortunately, a lot of us feel incredibly under pressure and triggered right now, so don't worry we're all in the same boat.
Can you believe that we’re still discussing our bodies in a global pandemic? The fact that the prevailing message online is to lose weight, be productive and be our best selves tells us that as a society, we are doing something very wrong! As someone who has experienced an eating disorder as a result of these kind of messages, I’ve worked pretty damn hard to keep that pressure at bay for years, but I’ve seen so much content about summer bodies and COVID-19 weight gain that it’s become hard to ignore.
Every year we’re faced with the dreaded ‘get ready for bikini season’ messages, but this year we have an added pressure of dealing with a pandemic too. With all this spare time, we’re expected to have a newfound love for fitness and no excuse for not taking the time to prepare our super duper healthy meals.
“I’m seeing everyone I follow, even people who didn’t before, do home workouts and it’s made me feel guilty because I’m not” - Sarah.
“My summer body will be postponed until 2020” and messages like I have shown above reiterate the message that our body is something to be fixed, moulded and changed. But our bodies are not a task and it should not be a chore to look after them. Your body is home to your soul, your mind, your emotions, your feelings, your dreams, your memories, it's home to everything about you. Many of us don't enjoy the process of 'prepping' for our summer bodies - we just want to sit in the sun eating a burger from the bbq and an ice lolly so why do we put ourselves through something we don't enjoy just for a couple of quick pictures in our bikini that we often scrutinise anyway!
The amount of content I’ve seen about how much exercise it takes to burn off a cream egg or what healthy snack options we should choose is ridiculous. Believe it or not, you are allowed to eat any kind of food, even cream eggs and even, when you're trying to lose weight! We need to quit acting like the world is going to end if our body gains a little bit of fat. The fat phobia has become extremely clear in the past few weeks because we’re acting like gaining weight is the worst thing in the world. Ladies and gents, we need to check ourselves right now. Do we really need to add body image to our list of worries? I honestly have no energy to count my calories and watch what I eat because I have other shit to do.
“I think people are focusing far too much on how they’re looking and they’re using dieting and weight control as a form of control in a time where we have literally no control” says Michaela.
We aren't free to go to the gym if and when we want, we can't just pop to the shops and we might not feel mentally able to think about nourishing our bodies at the moment. During this time, I think it's so important to let go of control and just give ourselves the freedom to explore how we're feeling and slowly come to terms with our new situation.
I am very much a believer that you attract the energy you put into the universe. If you’re writing about your fear of weight gain not only are you giving them power, you’re most likely projecting that energy onto other people. The more content I see, the more I think about my own body and wonder if I should be making more of an effort.
“What’s really important to consider is that people aren’t calling them diets. They’re just saying ‘ooh look what I’m doing’ to cloud it and almost make it fashionable” says Michaela.
What’s really interesting is that so much of the fitness and wellness industry is exactly what it claims to detest. Talking about our bodies has become a trend. The Body Positive movement and various other movements started off with a great message, but unfortunately that message has somewhat faded away because diet culture has taken it over. I've noticed numerous fitness and nutrition pages have spoken about 'healthier' ways to incorporate chocolate into our diets, like adding chocolate chips to our porridge. This is simply promoting a disordered eating habit, why not just eat the damn chocolate bar instead of creating this idea in our heads that we can only eat chocolate when it comes in a healthy package.
Also, take for example the Alexandra Happy Body plan, it's message is supposedly all about weight loss to aid mental health but the whole idea is based on the idea that you have to lose weight in order to be happy and confident in your body. These are the types of messages that diet culture is hiding behind! You can choose to be confident and happy in any body that you have right now. To the people that say they aren't comfortable in their current bodies, my god I hear you! I have felt this so hard in the past that I have starved myself, and there are days that I don't feel comfortable still, but now I choose to be happy in my body rather than change it. So to you I say, carry on being kind to yourself and educating yourself on diet culture to understand that you are WORTHY and fantastic and still the same YOU in any body that you have.
This period has pointed out once again, that we’re not educated. “I need to practice social distancing from the fridge” - if all you’re thinking about is food right now, it’s probably because you’re not satisfied! If you eat, your body will stop thinking about food. Every time we take a step in the right direction with the likes of Jameela Jamil, Bryony Gordon, Stephanie Yeboah and Megan Crabbe educating us on diet culture, we choose to ignore them. I say ‘choose’ because there is so much information out there now to reject diet culture and begin your journey of self-love.
I’m not saying that exercise is bad. I’ve probably been more active during lockdown than I have in the past year but that is purely because it has given me the anxiety release that I’ve needed. I can happily say that I have not exercised to make any part of me smaller. I have happily eaten an easter egg every evening regardless if I have worked out or already eaten an easter egg earlier that day. Exercising and eating is not the issue - but you should not feel a pressure to come out of this pandemic with a new body.
"So far, you've survived 100% of your worst days. You're doing great"