I am not the enemy
I was clicking around today doing my best to find some weight-loss blogs that I might start linking to. I actually don’t read any dieting blogs and as I sat reading different blogs I was trying to put my finger on exactly what was bothering me about them enough to make me not want to link to them. Some of the problems were obvious: people promoting unhealthy and dangerous behaviors, people using ultra-thin models as inspiration and just about every other bad-yet-common diet idea out there. But others seemed, superficially, to be much more in line with my own ideas. Here were people, women mostly, enjoying exercise and eating real food in good amounts. They were mostly losing weight very slowly and not using gimmicks or pills to do it. But still, something rankled and they left me a little squicky.
Then I was reading Rachel’s great post on director Kevin Smith’s relationship with his body and his weight and I had a great big *click* moment when I read this:
My point here as it relates to Kevin Smith is that sustained weight-loss is most achievable when you begin thinking of your body positively as an ally and not a foreign entity to be conquered, whittled and tamed into submission. Self-respect rarely flows from the wellspring of self-hatred.
Often even people who are doing their best to lose weight in a way that isn’t punishing or unsustainable see losing weight as a constant battle with themselves. There is the knowing self which says that there are simple rules to follow. And then there is the fat self who is there only to refuse to follow those rules. Fat self refuses to be satisfied with less food. Fat self refuses to drop weight even during caloric deficits. And you have to beat fat self. You have to ignore fat self. Fat self is your enemy and must not be allowed to ‘win.’
It’s all horseshit of course. Your body is not fighting with you. It’s not sabotaging you. The more you see yourself at war with your body, the more likely you are to punish it, to ignore health in favor of weight loss. And, in the end, that’s both ineffective for weight loss and damaging to your physical and mental health.
I was listening to a fitness podcast a while back where the host talked about the body’s reaction to a calorie-deficit. People are furious with their bodies over it, she said. Some outdated response, so useless in modern western society, interferes with their desire to lose weight? Argh! And they often have one of two responses: 1) Put their hands over their ears and go ‘LALALALALALALALA.’ 2) They punish their body for it. They drop their calories too low. They overexercise. And they feel miserable all the time.
But, as she pointed out, we should be happy that our bodies work hard to not let us starve to death. We should be ecstatic that our ancestors had this same response. And that by understanding our body and working with it, we’re going to be a helluva lot happier and probably more likely to achieve whatever fitness/body goals we have.
And you know, regardless of goals or weight, it’s just a good idea to, as Rachel put it, see your body as an ally. It’s hard to focus on the health of your body when you’re busy casting it as the villain in the epic battle of you against your fat self.
And that’s what was bothering me about so many blogs- this theme of disconnect, of the body as enemy. As if you are and your body are separate. As if you can punish one and not the other.
This is why I’m much more likely to read a website dedicated to fitness than weight loss. Fitness blogs aren’t always fat-positive unfortunately, but the focus is always on working with your body. Giving it the calories and nutrients it needs. Giving it the rest it needs. And working with biology, not uselessly shaking your fist at it, to reach your goals.
Do you read any weight loss blogs that don’t fall into this way of thinking? If you’re trying to lose weight do you see it as a struggle against yourself?