I can’t remember a time in my life where I haven’t been told that something was wrong with my body. That I’m “big” or “broad” or “big boned”. I was told that I was different than my peers, but I should expect that because “it runs in the family”. I once held a boot camp-like play group at recess where I teamed up with the only other “big” girl in class and we would climb the monkey bars, run laps, and try to exercise. I felt like I was better than her because she was bigger than I was. She came to me one day to tell me that her shirts were fitting better because of our “playing”. She was so happy and I was jealous. We were in grade three.
In junior high school I remember being so uncomfortable in my own skin that I just wanted to disappear. My friends were starting to date boys while I was told that “If I just lost weight I’d be pretty”. In gym class we did a series of fitness tests so that we knew where to start with strength training lessons. I discovered that I was stronger than all the boys in my grade. My teachers were impressed and I was mortified… so were the boys and they all wanted nothing to do with me. My brother later told me that he would never date a girl like me because I was too strong, too independent, too big.
By the time I got to high school I had mastered the art of invisibility. I took no chances, stood on the sidelines of everything, and studied. The weight loss narrative on loop in my brain 24/7.
Don’t get me wrong. My childhood was great in so many ways. I had loving and supportive parents, I stayed innocent long past my peers, I had straight A’s and had set and accomplished more goals than most people I knew. I had a thriving babysitting business that allowed me to buy my first car at 12 years old! By all accounts I was healthy, happy, and thriving. My point here, is that this underlying narrative about my body has been the story I’ve told me myself since I was six or seven years old… reinforced, one small event at a time along the way.
“… but if I just lose some weight I’ll be worthy”.
Cut to my 30th birthday. The dreaded 3-0! By that time I was supposed to be skinny. I was supposed to have confidence, clear skin, no cellulite, and 0% body fat. I imagined that I would go back to my school reunion and everyone would be so impressed at how beautiful I was… classic Ugly Duckling. I wasn’t skinny though. I was frustrated with hating my body. All I saw was the number on the scale and the next fad-diet and exercise program that would fix it. Only they didn’t work for me, they didn’t “fix” anything.
I realized that focusing on outside validation wasn’t working. I turned inward. I began reading books like “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Ruben, and “The Universe Has Your Back” by Gabby Bernstein.
Then I discovered podcasts. Now these were a game changer! I learned about proper nutrition and the current research about health and wellness from qualified professionals such as Mark Hyman, Chalene Johnson, and Shawn Stevenson. All of this arming me with the knowledge and confidence to think critically about what I needed to do for me.
I needed to STOP DIETING and I needed to eat fewer animal products. In November of 2017 this is exactly what I did. I stopped categorizing food as “Good”, “Bad”, “Fattening”, “Off Limits” and just ate the things I wanted.
Trust me, after a life time narrative of self-deprivation, this was no easy task! I learned that if I just ate a few pieces of chocolate or had the potato chips when I wanted them with out judgement, shame or guilt, I felt better. I found that I was actually eating less and feeling more satisfied because I didn’t eat three or four other things while trying to avoid the one thing I wanted. I felt better because I didn’t have the emotional baggage of feeling guilt, shame, or disgust about eating the “bad” thing.
You know the incredible thing about it all? I not only felt more emotionally free, but I lost 35lbs AND maintained that loss without making myself crazy. (Why isn’t this the latest fad?!)
Like many of us, with every change of season or approach of a new year I begin to assess my accomplishments and plan out my goals. This year was no different and I found myself slipping back into old habits. Jumping on the “New year, New me” band wagon and feeding the weight loss narrative once again.
Then, with perfect timing, I found the greatest gem to date: “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck” by Sarah Knight. In this book, Sarah Knight takes the reader on a journey through their own mind. What do they give a fuck about? Why do they give a fuck about it? SHOULD they give a fuck about it? Than she helps you through the tough part… how to go about not giving a fuck without alienating all your family and losing your friends. The whole point is to stop spending energy on things that are not serving your best interest.
When reading this book, I learned that I don’t give a fuck about being a morning person or eating kale. I have no fucks for fitness trackers, food logs, or Donald Trump. I don’t give a fuck about other people’s opinions about my choices, “keyboard warriors” on social media, or chronic negativity at family gatherings.
Most importantly though, I DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS!
It feels great to finally free myself of caring about the scale, carbs, or how many steps I took today. Freeing myself of all the fucks I gave for “good” or “bad” foods, acceptable clothing size, and the number on the scale has giving me the energy to care about more important things. I have more fucks to give for proper nutrition, increased energy and moving my body in ways that make me feel empowered rather than punished.
This year my New Year plans look very different. My planner is not filled with weight loss goals and training plans. Instead, there are lists of books I want to read and things I want to learn, ways I want to expand on my creative endeavors, and activities I want do that bring me joy. Instead of feeling weighted down by the usual “I’m not good enough” or “I hope this works this time” narrative I’m feeling strong, empowered and ready to accomplish what I’ve wanted this whole time; spiritual, emotional, and physical health and wellness… which is so much more than fad diets and weight loss.
I invite you to join me in not giving a fuck! Whether its not giving a fuck about weight loss or not giving a fuck about your neighbor’s opinion of your un-watered front lawn.. FREE YOURSELF from the burden and put your energy into whatever brings you joy.
I promise you will not be disappointed in the result!
Photo Credit: Wendy Rowe