I'm Overweight But I Refuse To Go On A Diet, Here's Why.

My story is not unlike most others. Gazing back at my reflection in the mirror, I was flooded with the thoughts that had become all too familiar.  

Look how huge your arms are.

Wow, your stomach is disgusting.

Why am I so fat?

Turning left and right and left again, contorting my body, pinching, squeezing and manipulating it, I sighed and simply walked away, crawling into bed and hoping so desperately to wake up just a little bit thinner.

I was 9.

Now I would never dare say these things about another person but I had no issue hurling such vicious words at the image of myself I saw in the mirror. It wasn’t until I took a moment to listen to the people around me that I recognized, everyone experiences this in some way or form at some point in time. I’ve heard comments like this from all sorts of women in my life --young women, old women, thin women, thick women, professional athletes, new mothers, family members, close friends, strangers in the bathroom, and even the women who I thought had the most perfect bodies.

In an effort to combat this distaste with ourselves, we subject our bodies to sometimes extreme and usually restrictive diets, forcing ourselves to work our muscles to the point of exhaustion, all with the reassuring mentality that it’s only temporary. Once we lose that 5, 10, 20 pesky pounds we can resume regularly scheduled programming. Now I’ve tried just about every diet out there, each time only with temporary success and found that this is exactly the problem with dieting. Lose 10 pounds, gain back 15. Lose 15 pounds, gain back 20. Lose 20 pounds, and so on and so forth.

And it’s not just physical weight that is added, but also the emotional weight of failing at something that was never meant to be sustainable in the first place.

So how do you break out of this destructive cycle? The solution is simply this: be nicer to yourself. Be kind to your body. Prioritize your wellbeing. Practice intuitive eating and fueling your body with nourishing foods. Be kind to your mind. Allow yourself to indulge and try not to beat yourself up when the indulging goes too far. Remind yourself that it’s ok to enjoy food just because it tastes good. Let’s be honest, if food existed solely to keep us alive then how do you explain pizza...and tacos? Just saying.

Now I don’t want to preach complacency. I know that right at this moment, I’m not in the prime of my health and certainly will take steps to get there. But what I also know is that I love myself and there is nothing in the world anyone can say or do to make me feel otherwise.

Body-shaming, whether about another person or even about yourself is bad behavior and we, as women, need to be cognizant of this behavior.  Be mindful of the “I look like a whale”, you mutter to your friend in the dressing room and the “No I can’t eat that, I’m so fat” you let slip at the brunch table. Instead of tracking numbers and sizes, focus your efforts on building a healthy relationship with your body, both inside and out. Health is not a number on the scale, it is not a dress size or a body type. And the reality is, you can’t gauge a person’s health simply by looking at them, this includes your own self.

Today, when I stare at myself in the mirror, I love the person I see staring back at me. And though she’s not quite where she wants to be, she will get there. Today, as I walk away from the mirror, I’m reminded of the two things my mother always told me that I wish I’d embraced sooner:

Comparison is a killer.

Confidence is everything.