So, I gained weight.
I know it. My partner knows it. My family knows it. My friends know it. Instagram knows it.
I'm sure I'm not the only one going through this. In fact, maybe you gained some weight recently as well?
There are many reasons why I gained weight; all of which are within my control. On the one hand, I have become less restrictive/obsessive and have truly given up the diet mentality for good. Yay! But on the other hand I have also been super stressed and anxious in recent months and as a result, my emotional eating track record has been through the roof. Nay! But regardless of why, none of these reasons need to be explained or apologized for. It is what it is.
As you can guess, this physical change has come with a large amount of mindfuckery. It's never a pleasant experience to gain weight (unless that is your goal, and sometimes even then), but even more so if you have struggled with an eating disorder in the past. How the heck are you supposed to deal with that shit?! After all, it's taken me a long time to become comfortable with my body and accept it for what it is (no thigh gap and stuff). But now I need to re-learn how to love my body with all its new features, and somehow the meaning of unconditional self-love has taken on a whole new meaning.
And so, over the last couple of months, I have seen my body transform in a way that has been absolutely horrifying for me, yet I knew this was the perfect learning ground for me to practice what I preach and to absolutely 100% own and accept the changes. To not beat myself up for it and vow to go on a new diet the next day. I wasn't going to do any of that stuff no more!
It would be a lie if I said it's been easy and that I embrace the extra bit of giggle fully, but after sorting through my thoughts and spending a lot of time going inwards, I have figured out what all of this does and does not mean for me.
What it DOESN'T mean
- That I have failed myself.
- That I must return to “old me” in order to be happy and successful.
- That I am broken and must be fixed.
- That I should be ashamed of myself.
- That my value as a person has decreased.
- That I am a hypocrite for being a health coach yet looking the way I do.
- That I can't wear pants anymore because they make me look fat.
What it DOES mean
I have gained weight
Seriously. That's all it means.
Let's talk about the 2nd point. How many of us think that once we lose the weight (again), we will be happier? How much time do we spend desperately wishing we could look different; thinner, taller, longer legs, bigger or smaller breasts, more hair, less hair, you name it? That once XZY, we will be happier. Life will finally be perfect. We will be perfect.
But I call BS on that! If I know one thing now, then it's that being skinny/skinnier DOES NOT equate to happiness. Take a look at the picture below. I may have looked better in the picture on the left, but I was actually quite miserable. My eating habits weren't healthy, I was exercising for all the wrong reasons and my inner mean girl was having a daily jungle party up in my head. My relationships, creativity, compassion towards others and energy suffered as a result of all of this. The crazy, crazy, messed up thing is that I STILL loathed my body on the left! I wanted to be even thinner, even more ripped, and an even perkier butt. I now look at this picture and cannot believe how blind I was. How the hell could I not be happy with that back then...?! How was it that all I could see was flaws and things that needed fixing?
Being skinny made me a lot of things. But it did not make me happy.
"Being thin is not: a) A cure for sadness or b) A guarantee of happiness."
Let's talk about another point. Have I truly failed myself because I let myself go and allowed myself to gain weight? Should I be ashamed of this? Absolutely not. But I certainly understand why it feels like that for many of us. You think that if you accept the changes, it’s somehow an admission to the world that you’re happy where you are. Like waiving a weight flag and saying "I give up." Am I right? I get you, sister. Media and society has drilled into us that we can achieve our dream body if we just work hard enough for it, goddammit. So if we don't, we automatically think it's our fault and our lack of willpower.
But I am not a failure for gaining weight, and neither are you. Because whilst I may have gained some kilos, I also gained compassion, confidence, self-acceptance and unconditional self-love (work in progress). Self-loathing is slowly being replaced with kindness. There is a stillness, a joy, and a peace I've never had. The girl on the right is mentally stronger and is learning to not give a shit. To be herself unapologetically. Weight gain, weight loss, whatever, my worth is not defined by a number on a scale. It's also not defined by how fit and ripped I am. In fact, my body does not define me. Period.
And life comes and goes in phases anyways. My body is going to keep changing for the rest of my life. If it's not weight gain, it will be aging. If not aging, it could be an illness. Let's learn to love the change, not hate it.
Now, do I want to get back to the two-years-ago version of my body, you might ask. Yes I do. Before you say that doesn't make any sense and defeats the entire purpose of what I just said, hear me out:
I don't think body acceptance has to equal complacency. I think you can have a goal that you are working towards, whilst still accepting where you are right now. So yes, I do think I would like to loose a couple of kilos again, but not because I hate the shape I currently am in. It's because I know that the extra weight I am carrying around with myself at the moment is not my natural weight. Truth be told, it's because I haven't been taking good care of myself lately and the weight is a manifestation, a reminder of that.
I see emotional eating as nothing but a messenger trying to point you into the direction of things that we need to work on. And it seems that, currently, there are some things that I need to work through. So, rather than hating my body into change, I want to love it into change. I am going to check in with myself about my self-care habits — focusing on my behaviors and my self-care instead of the shape of my body.
And the rest will come by itself.