Being thin is not the only way to health and happiness. In fact, an emphasis on “thin” might be the exact opposite of the way to health and happiness.
I made the journey to “thin” a long time ago. I was 13, had just come home from a trip with my dad and boyfriend and was looking through our photos. I saw myself having fun tubing, kayaking, riding ATV’s, sitting on hippie-blankets at a hippie-fest (I don’t know what to call it, but to my 13 year old mind this is what it was and I loved it) and listening to music in the woods.
We cooked almost all of our food in the camper. Foods like “Stacey burritos” (named after my aunt Stacey) which are tortillas filled with ground beef and cheese. And if the burrito was good, hey, I’d have another. Why not? I was a 13 year old girl having fun.
Dear younger self… food is pleasurable and is meant to be that way. Don’t feel bad about this. If we didn’t get pleasure from food we wouldn’t eat and would die off. The goal is to learn what it feels like to balance our pleasures so that ultimately, we feel great.
When we got home, I looked through the trip photos and everything changed for me. That day, September 4th, I stayed in bed with my laptop in hand researching everything I could about diets and weight-loss (I knew nothing about this prior).
My Google search included:
- how to lose weight
- how many calories to eat to lose weight
- what’s a calorie
- how to count calories (there were no apps back then – I hadn’t gotten ahold of “Lose It” yet)
- what foods are healthy
- what foods are bad
- how to keep yourself motivated
- what exercise to do to lose weight
- what “natural pills” to take to lose weight
And the rest was history… I was a green-tea-drinking, low-calorie eating, cardio machine. And 30 pounds fell off my body faster than you would believe. I could literally jump through my old jeans. Which I replaced with new Hollister jeans, which made me feel more like everyone else.
I started getting attention and “IM’s” (instant messages on AOL for anyone born after the 90’s) from guys who never gave me the time of day before. My girl friends began to ask what I was doing and it felt good. I felt cool. I felt liked and desired. I was the same me, but I felt more accepted. It was the weirdest thing.
Then, my body kept going and I kept going. Weight-loss became all I thought and talked about.
I had post-it notes galore on my school binder reminding me
how much I should eat how much I should not eat. I had the word “NO” written on both hands, to remind me not to eat junk food. I ran in P.E. while everyone else played games.
My ultimate goal was to keep going until I fit into this “00” jean skirt that I had hanging on my bedroom wall, like a poster. I knew I could, and I wanted it.
Being small became a feeling of safety for me.
My whole life could fall apart (which in some ways it was – but I wasn’t mature enough to notice what was going on at the time) but as long as I stayed small I’d be able to handle it. Of course, none of these things were actually true – but the intensity of how I felt them was so real.
This is where putting so much emphasis on being thin eventually lead me.
Now, for the big question…
Was I was happier?
Not at all. Sure, I felt like I fit into more of the “cool girl” groups and was liked by more boys, however, this wasn’t good for me, nor did it make me happier. Sure, I liked that I could try on most things and they would fit. Sure, I started getting ready more often and felt “pretty.”
BUT, and this is a big BUT: I could have done all of these things by choice had I just worked on liking myself more, and taking care of myself better in the first place.
And guess what? I would have become healthier that route. Everything could have improved.
But instead, a focus on being thin only led me to a smaller body and a very real identity crisis – who would I be if I lost this thin-ness? I honestly didn’t know. And it scared me to my core.
Here is a photo after I had already gained 10-15 pounds. This is when I was first starting to feel better. This was the start of feeling proud of myself for focusing on health vs. being skinny.
You can use your imagination to picture what I looked like 10-15 pounds lighter than this.
From someone who has had the primary goal of getting “thin” and got there, the answer is NO.
Having a primary goal of being “thin” or “skinny” alone is not going to make you healthy or happy. Even if parts of this new thinner body feel good, it will not be your ultimate joy – and if this is what you’re looking for, it’ll let you down.
So, what WILL bring us true joy?
Getting more in touch with ourselves. Stripping down to the core of who we are and beginning to like ourselves more because we are beings in this world who deserve to be loved and liked. And the truth is, we’re never going to be anyone else. So we may as well start getting along with the person we ARE.
From there, we can learn to take better care of ourselves. To give ourselves more of what we want. To say “YES” to our truest desires more often. To cloth ourselves comfortably and take the time to nourish ourselves with care.
Don’t focus on simply getting thin.
Focus on feeling healthy; on feeling happy; on feeling great and more like yourself.
I like to remind myself and my clients of this simple truth: All you are responsible for is taking excellent care of yourself. The numbers, your weight and the size of your body are not up to you. So let go of control and being to focus on taking excellent care of yourself so you can start feeling good now.
To end, I want to share an incredible Podcast with you that so encouraged me and I know will encourage many others. It’s about health at every size. The speaker is incredibly knowledgable, and you’ll see when you listen, easy to trust.
In this Podcast, Linda Bacon encourages us right from the beginning sharing that…
- she can now enjoy and appreciate her body and enjoy food again – she can find pleasure in it (you can too!)
- health at every size is all about helping us to treat bodies with respect and encouraging us to take the emphasis off of weight and put the emphasis on helping us to enjoy and appreciate being in our bodies – this frees us up to take good care of ourselves (absolutely true – this is one of my favorite discovery’s with my own clients)
The insane part at 15:15 about BMI blew my mind. I would really encourage you to listen all the way through if you can. It starts around 10:00 and is amazing the whole way through (I haven’t listened to the mini-interview at the end yet, but I bet that’s great as well).
Looking for a place to start?
I created Authentically You, my 10-day online course specifically for the women who are ready to say goodbye to comparison, guilt, and restrictive eating and behaviors.
If this is you, get ready to say HELLO to a happier, healthier, brighter YOU who is able to say “YES!”; who is able to say “NO”, powerfully; who is able to listen to her body, hear her desires, and follow through consistently on honoring those desires.
You can start the course today and begin embracing YOURSELF here, immediately.