Losing Weight While Embracing Your Larger Body
Today, I am at the highest weight I have ever been. This is due to fluctuating mental health and medications, disordered eating patterns, genetics and shame. Shame is a funny thing—it makes us want to hide ourselves and makes us feel less than human. These illusions of being less-than don't just disappear with superficial changes.
What helped me break those thought patterns was a shift: to gently strive to meet my body where it was at, instead of constantly fighting it. I deserved to have cute clothes. I deserved to be around people. I deserved to look in the mirror, even if it was hard. I also deserved to eat regularly. I realized that even at my smallest, I had still felt too big in my environment. For my own sanity, I now choose different spaces to be present in. I realized that I craved to be in spaces where bodies looked like mine. I deserved to find low-impact exercises and gentle yoga flows for bigger bodies. I also deserved to date and be loved.
Your body is worthy
As great as this all sounds, achieving a true sense of self-worth is difficult. If you search online for workout videos, high-intensity options are the default suggestion. In the past, I had been able to push through the pain of these routines, but today I require more grace from my virtual instructors. Mainstream fitness culture has a ways to go when it comes to making modifications and celebrating gradual change. Many of us have not been taught to move, eat or exist purely for the pleasure of doing so.
With this in mind, I have decided to view weight loss as a gentle change, with room for error or even total "failure." I would like to feel more comfortable walking long distances, buying the clothes that I want and having more autonomy. I would like to be able to ride a roller coaster and go rock climbing. I would like my body to hurt less. But many larger bodies have trouble working toward those goals because it feels like committing to never being comfortable again. Is the problem just your size, or is it society's refusal to see different bodies? Variety is normal, but to reinforce that belief in everyday life, we must consciously seek outlets that create spaces for different types of people.
The truth is, sizeism stems from moralistic ideations created to separate "worthy" people from the less worthy. As an overweight woman, I have worked with nutritionists who seem to think I've never heard of basic concepts like the Mediterranean diet, and signed up for multiple medical weight-loss clinics, which in the end were only promoting bariatric surgery. Countless weight-loss programs are designed solely to keep you dependent on their products.
It is a privilege to be able to afford meal-replacement programs that are ultimately unsustainable, but at this point in my journey, I plan on finding a program that includes a dietitian, community support and meal replacements, only because I don't see any other reasonable options—at least none that are paid for by insurance.
Weight loss may not be in your future
I'm aware of the risks associated with diets. I might end up not losing weight, and may even gain more weight than before. Realistically, I would like to aim for a happy medium, where I feel more comfortable existing, regardless of whether my next "lifestyle change" sticks. My new goal isn't really weight loss, but to be carefree in my body. So I will practice radical self-love (see The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor) by checking my own limiting beliefs, while surrounding myself with more diverse bodies. Embracing larger bodies is a revolutionary act that makes the number on a scale arbitrary. If weight loss is part of your goal, great, but make sure that your focus doesn't neglect the present you. You may end up falling in love with yourself just the way you are.