Self love and body positivity are two phrases that have become an anthem for a generation of women who have grown tired of trying to meet impossible standards put in place by others. It is a powerful thing to see women being seen and respected for more than what we look like, but does that mean that we are wrong if we want to lose weight?
You are worth more than the number on the scale. You are defined by more than what you look like. If these statements are true, what does that mean if you are trying to lose weight? Is it possible to love who you are while also trying to improve yourself? These are questions that I have asked myself so many times over. I believe that in order to fully answer these questions, we need to have a better understanding of what self love actually looks like. And what it doesn’t look like.
At my heaviest, I was almost 300 pounds. Was I still a good person? A good mom? Was I still smart, funny, creative, kind, hardworking etc? Absolutely. But I was also a broken person who was working so hard to hide her shame and pain. I was struggling with binge eating, hiding my candy wrappers under the seat in my car, and was comforting myself with food. This is NOT self love. And it was necessary for me to change.
Let me be clear here, losing X amount of pounds does not equal happiness. It does not mean that you will heal the underlying reasons behind your food addiction. It does not solve all your problems. That is where true self love and body positivity come in. Most of us have attempted shaming ourselves into weight loss. Trying to use self-hatred as fuel to be better, but it doesn’t work. It only leaves us more broken than we were before.
“Most of us have attempted shaming ourselves into weight loss. Trying to use self-hatred as fuel to be better, but it doesn’t work. It only leaves us more broken than we were before.”
Self love and being body positive (for me), mean treating my heart and my body with respect. This involves more than food and exercise but those do both play a big role in how I feel and how I function. It has been a process for me to learn how foods affect me, to learn how to nourish my body but also enjoy foods that I love. It takes time to learn that food is not meant to be a punishment or a reward. Exercise is not meant to be used to burn off the ice cream you ate earlier. That only fuels shame and guilt. Nourishing your body with the right foods is self love. Exercising in a way that you enjoy is self love. This is not going to look the same for everyone and it’s not supposed to.
Only you can know where your heart is at, but I encourage you to ask yourself the hard questions. Are you saying that you are body positive so that you can eat whatever you want? Are you claiming self love but secretly dealing with shame and self hatred? I know that we all want to break free from dieting cycles and trying to fit into an image that we see in the media, but it is okay to want to be healthy. It is okay to want to lose weight. If you are willing to dig under the surface, you can learn to love yourself and improve your health.
This is a learning process for all of us. There is no one right answer to health or even body positivity. You must learn to truly listen to what your heart and your body are telling you and then take the steps toward what health looks like for you. So can self love and weight loss co-exist? Absolutely, but recognize that it is your own journey. There is no one number or size that determines if you are healthy. Healthy looks different for everyone. Learn to trust yourself.
You can read more about My Weight Loss Story here.