I asked on Instagram what you wanted to know about body positivity so that I could put together a blog post answering all your questions. I was honestly blown away by the responses because they weren’t the usual and weren’t at all what I expected which is great because not only do I have some really interesting questions to answer but I’ve had to really think about a lot of things.
One of the questions was “can you remember the day or moment when the switch flipped” and I felt like I needed to dedicate a full post to this just because I have so much to say about it.
For years I waited for my weight loss lightbulb moment. I looked at before and after pictures of others who had lost a shit ton of weight and I wished and hoped that I could have the moment, the moment where something will just click and I will finally get to have an after picture just like theirs. I even went as far as to ask a few of them all about it because anyone who has dieted knows that you want the secret, you want to know how everyone else is doing it, you need to know about the moment.
And it’s funny because I am finally getting to share my moment, it’s just not the one I thought it would be for half of my life.
Let me start by saying that it didn’t just happen one day, I can’t put a time or date on it, it was a combination of things, feelings, words and an almost nervous breakdown.
As I have mentioned many times before in January 2017 I jumped on the whole “new year, new me” bandwagon….again. I made my own very strict eating plan following what I had learnt worked for me over the years (disclaimer: it was what worked but it wasn’t the right way) and I joined a gym. I really enjoyed gym, so much so that I would go for 3 hours on a Saturday morning. I craved it because it made me feel good. But then I started noticing intense guilt when I didn’t go, the guilt was so bad that I didn’t want to eat if I hadn’t gone to gym or if I wasn’t going to be going. You could say this was a moment but not the moment.
The next moment came in the form of something one of my best friends said to me one night as we were celebrating her upcoming wedding that I was a bridesmaid for. Of course the bridesmaid thing put the diet into overdrive and leading up to the wedding I really was no fun. We had braai’s and get togethers to plan and I turned down everything, food, drinks, even fun. On the night where everything had finally come together for her and she was feeling good about her planning and the actual wedding day she asked me to have a glass of champagne with her to celebrate and I answered with what had become my default “no, I need to lose weight, especially for your wedding” to which she replied “you don’t need to lose weight, you are beautiful and we love you for who you are and I don’t want you to feel like you need to change yourself for my wedding, or for me, or for anyone”. This just struck a nerve because I have always had so many people who love me for me, who have been there when I was at my thinnest and when I was at my fattest. Their love didn’t change because my body changed. And my love for someone else has never changed based on something like their weight.
For the record my reasons for wanting to lose weight were NEVER EVER about my health, they were always to look “better” and to be thinner and I didn’t actually care about anything other than getting there and getting there quickly. I hit a loss of 15 kgs in the middle of 2017and I felt good but not nearly good enough. And after putting myself through weighing every day and then not eating that day if I hadn’t lost (which was obviously almost every day because it’s impossible to lose weight every single day) I felt like I deserved to feel the best I ever had. But I didn’t, and I couldn’t figure out why.
Then came the almost nervous breakdown, between stress, anxiety in overdrive, being obsessive about my weight and just feeling really unhappy about everything in my life I hit an all-time low and I knew that I needed to stop the train and do some soul searching.
Through that soul searching, taking time out for myself, removing all the weight loss accounts and following accounts that showed women like me who were happy in their skin I realized that my obsession with my weight was so unhealthy that I had become a really unhappy person and that I really was not going to find happiness in a number on the scale or through an after picture.
So I looked for an alternative. Yes, I know the alternative could have been to just do it all the proper and healthy way. But I didn’t need another answer to a problem that I knew deep down was never going to go away. I didn’t need to find another eating plan to “eat my way to self-love”. I didn’t want to do any of it anymore, calorie tracking, weighing, trying to look different. I wanted to get out of the endless circle that I had been going round and round and round in for so long.
I gave up the diet. I did a lot of reflecting and thought long and hard about everything that I had put my body and my mind through for so many years and I knew without a shadow of doubt that losing weight was not going to change everything the way I hoped it would. Weight is always going to fluctuate and I just couldn’t see myself and my happiness fluctuating with it for the rest of my life so I had to focus my energy into myself in other ways. I had to work on everything except my weight and my body for a while. I needed something sustainable and while a healthy lifestyle is definitely sustainable, I also needed the mental sustainability.
More and more I started thinking that after everything that I have put my body, my mind, my relationships and myself through I deserved to love myself. I deserved to feel good about myself.
Now I don’t NEED to change my body, If I WANT to I can and either way I can love it. I don’t have a set of rules or terms and conditions to love it and there is no “diet way or the highway” anymore.
And so began my journey.