body positivity · mental health · Self Improvement

Happy New Year! Diet Culture Still Sucks!!

TW: discussion of eating disorders

In a sea of unavoidable “omg I’m gonna eat nothing but bananas and lose, like, so much weight!” posts during this time of year, let me be the light of common sense. Or at least some kind of rebellion against hating yourself so much that starving seems like a good idea.

I recently rediscovered an old journal entry that had somehow gotten lost among my mother’s things. When unpacking in her new apartment, she handed me this. Rereading it was nauseating. Don’t bother squinting – I’ll type it all out for you below.

It reads:
“5-13-12 (2)
Today I took a diet pill my mother was prescribed ages ago to try and keep my appetite down before the cruise. Ever since Nick’s been back, I’ve been eating junk way more often and blowing up like a balloon. I only have just enough until right up to the cruise. I wonder if society’s to blame or if I should even care. I like being thinner. I don’t want to go back to being fat.
And for the record –
I was fat, with a BMI of almost 30, not just “skinny girl fat” like Cierra, where they have a 30 inch waist but since they don’t fit in a size 0, their bodies are obviously “fat”. That shit is obnoxious.
On the jobs font, I think I might take a walking route for the LDN. It’s slave wages but it’s summer and I need some kind of reason to go outside. I’m thinking of it as “paid exercise”.
Anyhow, hopefully I’ll be able to contribute at least 1k to the savings for Oklahoma. We need all the dough we can scrape up.
Guess I’ll read for a bit.”

Oh, to be young and naive again. I wasn’t even married yet when I wrote this. It feels like a lifetime ago and yet I still find myself fantasizing about shrinking myself. It’s frustrating to think that I found myself fat while under a BMI of 30 (side note, BMI is bullshit! I could write a whole post about this subject alone!). My BMI now is 33 or so, meaning 2012 Carly would certainly not approve of my present weight. The idea that I was taking mystery diet pills is absolutely terrifying to me but considering this was just after I had stopped taking Adderal, I’m not surprised. Here’s a thought: if you have to take amphetamines to maintain your “ideal weight”, that weight is not ideal for your body.

How much can I really judge my past self, though? If I’m completely transparent with you all, I recently went through a short stint of taking above my recommended dosage of my thyroid medication to attempt to overstimulate my thyroid a bit and heighten my metabolism so I could lose weight. And by recently I mean within the past six months. The desire to be skinnier is violently pervasive and as much as I want to pretend I’m not bothered by the size of my body, I often am.

In our post modern society where body positivity is on the tip of so many people’s tongues, it makes me feel like a traitor to admit that I had to fight myself on putting weight loss goals on my list of resolutions. No matter how many happy, fat influencers I follow, I can’t shake this idea that 150 lbs is my magic weight. All I need to do is eat less, work out more, maybe take some pills, skip a few meals…

This isn’t to say that all weight loss goals are inherently evil. Labeling anything as “all good” or “all bad” is not only unreasonable but dangerous. But thinking that a number on a scale determines happiness is equally foolish. At my most thin, I was still depressed. It had no bearing on my mental health whatsoever. Obese or thin, at the end of the day, I still have to fix my brain. No diet can fix my self loathing. Often, it only makes it worse.

Aside from the mental health link, diets don’t work. You’ll always end up gaining back the weight – I sure did. The only thing that you can do is change your lifestyle. And honestly, the focus should be on more movement you love doing, getting stronger, more whole foods, less processed trash. Even if you stayed the exact same weight, you’d be much healthier. And that’s something to smile about.

So if you made some weight or fitness related resolutions, I hope you take a moment to examine why you chose those goals and what exactly you’re trying to achieve other than a certain number that equates how much volume you take up. If you were thinking about it (never too late to set new goals!), maybe consider reworking them in such a way that the emphasis is moved from becoming skinnier and to being healthier. My fitness resolution for this year, for example, is to engage in physical activity for thirty minutes a day at least three days a week on average. I’m starting with two days a week this first month, moving up to three in February, then getting really ambitious with four in March, and five in April. We’ll see how it goes! I’m just tired of being a nooooooodle. All this World War III talk lately has been making me realize I’d be one of the first to go in a post-apocalyptic scenario.

What about you? Got any work out resolutions? How about tips on where to find work outs I can shake up my routine with? Sound off in the comments below! And remember, your body protects your organs, filters air, pumps blood, and so much more. It’s doing the best it can. And so are you. Take it easy on yourself and your body.

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