You’ve probably gained weight and we’re all going to see it when you go outside again.
If your stomach just dropped reading that, you better read to the end of this because we have got some UNPACKING to do!
I meant what I said; yes, it’s likely you’ve put on a few pounds. Why wouldn’t you?
We’ve been trapped inside for months, racked with guilt, fear and increasing anxiety. You’re in the middle of a global pandemic that has had unprecedented ripple effects of tragedy everywhere you look; people have died on a catastrophic scale, jobs have been lost, debt has snowballed, isolation has been forced upon you and you could’ve died that way; alone, frightened and unemployed.
So… in light of that, are a few tubs of excess Ben & Jerry’s really worth beating yourself up for?
If you know me outside of a computer screen, you’ll probably already know that I have become venomously anti-diet and anti-weight loss in the past few years. I say this as someone who was a serial dieter and even when I was very underweight I always felt I had to be shrinking and depleting in order to be achieving.
But what does weight loss actually achieve?
Really, it’s nothing. Seriously. Before you come at me with your Weight Watchers slogans and drive-thru science, let me go into why it’s all bullshit.
Your body is the way it is because it’s trying to protect you at all times. Sometimes it gets it “wrong”; people have allergies, genetic disorders, disabilities, all things that are not “the standard” you’ve been led to believe is “correct”. But your body is functioning. You’re alive, you’re coping and that’s really all your body is getting paid to do.
Actively seeking and trying to manipulate weight loss goes against that and your body is going to see that as a threat. Now this isn’t to say all weight loss is always bad because we know that our weight is going to fluctuate as we wade through life. If you’re going through times of stress or illness, you may find your body is using your back up reserves to keep you going, and in that process you might lose weight because your body has deemed it necessary to do that in order to keep you alive and safe.
But when you’re functioning and alive and you then try to shake up the zen balance your body has going on, you’re letting yourself in for a shit storm.
Cutting out entire food groups when you have no allergenic reason to can actually cause you to be intolerant to those very food groups when you reintroduce them later on. Exercising too much, too vigorously and above your skill level can cause injury both in the short term, but also in the long term years away from now when you’re already old and fragile. Skipping meals or denying yourself food when your hungry can royally fuck up your metabolism, to the point where you can give yourself some pretty severe conditions such as diabetes (That’s right, it’s not just the result of pounding donuts in your mouth) and anaemia. Vitamin deficiencies can result in chronic conditions and death and don’t forget that a lot of organs like your liver and kidneys are really begging for certain kinds of food in order to function properly and again, keep you alive.
So why are we told these measures to lose weight are perfectly fine and healthy?
The diet industry is literally a billion-pound money making industry and wouldn’t you know it, they’re planning on keeping it that way. Ask yourself, if fad diets and wellness trends really did make the dramatic, positive impact their creators claim they do, then why do new ones crop up year after year? If we had the secret to healthy weight loss all along, surely no one would be fat and hospitals would become extinct?
When you ask these questions, you begin to realise how much bullshit we’ve been fed since the very beginning. This is without even going into how ableist and racist the diet industry is; 10,000 steps a day is a bit of a pisstake to ask of someone in a wheelchair, as is demanding somebody shrink themselves who’s already had their hair and body shamed historically.
I can see a bunch of size L lads chomping at the bit to tell me why (*cough* women *cough* they never care about fat men *cough* they’re allowed to live *cough*) being fat is so much worse so don’t panic, don’t PANIC. We’ll get to you in a second…
I said before, not all weight loss is bad weight loss. Diet-fuelled weight loss and cosmetic-fuelled weight loss is and I’d go as far as to say it’s literally poisonous.
But sometimes weight loss can be your body’s way of healing and correcting its mistakes.
You’ll be furious to know that I have actually lost weight during lockdown and maintained it either side of 4lbs. I’m still fat and I still eat bread.
I’ve lost weight because I’m not supposed to be this size. I have a binge-eating disorder and have battled with depressive episodes for years. My self-medication during those depressive spells was food and not the kind my body was asking me for.
When you are depressed, you don’t want a fucking salad.
When you have a binge-eating disorder, food is a way of comforting yourself as well as self-harming. You’re not going to do that with overnight oats.
I’ve been repairing my relationship with food recently and I’m even starting to get friendly with exercise too. That’s led to weight loss, but you aren’t going to be able to tell for years because of the size I’m starting at and how I’m losing it.
Here are some bonafide, science-backed tips on how to lose weight:
- Eat lots of different food
- Eat food according to what your bloodwork and body tell you it needs
- Eat food regularly
- Eat food with people
- Eat food when you’re hungry
- Eat food you enjoy
- Eat food that nourishes your body, mind and soul
- Move regularly
- Stretch regularly
- Enjoy whatever movement or exercise you are doing and stop exercise you hate doing
- Accept that your genetics have already decided what your “ideal size” is.
And in time, you might lose weight if it is healthy FOR YOU. IT’S HEALTHIER FOR SOME PEOPLE TO BE FAT. THAT’S RIGHT I SAID WHAT I SAID.
So many things OTHER THAN diet and exercise can influence your size and shape; genetics, environment, income, class, gender, medical history, the list goes on. And yet, we have become obsessed with the lie that everyone can and should be skinny, but it’s all a matter of willpower.
Fuck off. You know what, even if you were right, fuck off.
I’ve always been told that if what you’re about to tell someone can’t be fixed in 5 minutes, there’s no point in telling them. What purpose does it serve to sneer and snicker at fat people? What help are you giving somebody having fun with their friends by shouting insults at them? Why do you not have anything better to do in your own life than fixate on the size of other people?
At best, you’re going to make someone feel worthless and they might kill themselves. Yay, one less fatty around amirite?! At worst, you’re going to reveal what a sad, tiny person you really are by how you project your own insecurities onto those who are simply minding their own business.
Let’s make a pact to not accept such foolish, bullying behaviour.
So yeah, you probably have gained weight and you may be nervous about what everyone will think about it when we’re all meeting up again in the Summer.
But I ask you to ask yourself and I mean really really ask yourself; does it matter?
You aren’t going to have more friends if you lose a stone. You aren’t going to get promoted just because you cut out dairy. You aren’t going to have more fun as a skinny bitch with your friends than a fat bitch with their friends.
Despite what the Lynx Africa brigade think, you aren’t necessarily going to be healthier just because you’re lighter either.
So stop telling yourself you will. Focus on the truths; it’s going to be great to laugh outside again. It’s going to be amazing to wear cute outfits again. I can’t wait to wear funky sunglasses and to show off my hairy lockdown legs!
It’s going to be incredible when it hits you that you’ve survived a pandemic and all that happened to you is you got a little softer.
If this was all a bit too much and you’ve found yourself spiralling about weight, food and size, please seek the help of BEAT. You’re not alone and don’t have to put up with shitty thoughts www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk