By Siobhan Ozege
I haven’t always been a bigger girl, but I have always struggled with accepting and loving my body the way it is at any given moment in time. In fact, for as long as I can remember, my New Year’s resolution has been that I wanted to “lose 20 pounds.” This seemingly tangible goal has been a negative staple for me across a spectrum of sizes, and it was only this year that I realized that losing that 20 pounds didn’t matter, because I would still vow to lose another the following year, and probably the year after that.
When we start talking about what it means to write a New Year’s resolution, it’s that old story of companies who fat shame you for how you ate over the holidays, who sell you gym memberships that you won’t use past February, or the countless piles of foam rollers, stretch bands, exercise shorts and at-home weight sets that you’ve convinced yourself you need to buy so you can be happy. We’re stuck in a cycle where losing weight has become positioned as literally the only thing standing between you and happiness. Now, I love the idea of New Year’s resolutions. I think it’s really important to check in with ourselves to see if there’s a thing we want to improve or work on so that we can live our most fulfilling and best life. I just don’t think it has to come from such a deep, dark, shitty place.
To be honest, the greatest weight I’ve ever lost was what I’m calling my ~*~New Year’s Revelation~*~. Since joining Fat Girl Food Squad in the fall, I’ve wrestled with my own understanding of how I can learn to love my body for how it looks, while still wanting to achieve my health and fitness goals through exercise and healthier habits. Does losing weight and eating clean necessarily have to come from a place of self-hatred and external body shaming? According to many, that’s apparently the case, although we all know that BMI has long been debunked as an accurate measure of health and fitness, and that fat shaming motivation actually does the opposite. We also know that fat stigma is very real and people deal with it literally every day of their lives in a variety of situations.
So, is the secret that you have to learn to love yourself before you can motivate yourself to reach your New Year’s resolutions? Perhaps. The most encouraging thing I ever did for myself was to break up with my scale, and make manageable health and fitness goals that I felt like I could tackle, and had actual ties to things that would make me feel better emotionally, mentally and physically. Whether it’s learning to run to improve your endurance, wanting to be able to lift heavy things, or learning a new sport, there are tons of reasons to make health and fitness a New Year’s resolution that encourages you to love your body and to love yourself.
This year, for the first time, my list of New Year’s resolutions/intentions/resolves or whatever you want to call them doesn’t include weight loss, though they are almost all distinctly health-focused. They include a push to be active at least four days a week, to drink more water, to cut down on my coffee intake, and to sleep more. And honestly, this is the first time I’ve ever really actively taken manageable steps to achieve these goals. Rather than eating salads for a week and then being bummed out when the scale doesn’t budge and giving up, I signed up for a two-month long all-ladies boot camp class that I do twice a week with two of my friends. This, combined with two days of cardio means I’m being active a minimum of four days a week. Check.
Exercising more is helping me sleep better, and it’s making me thirsty as hell, so I’m drinking water all the time. It’s also motivating me to try new things – I’ve decided to ride this motivation and take up yoga to help me de-stress from work and to improve my balance. Check. Check. Check. Now, instead of feeling crummy that the scale isn’t budging, I feel stronger, happier, and healthier. My arms and legs are stronger and leaner and my endurance is slowly increasing. Have I lost any weight? Who gives a shit! We all know that weight does not equate to health, and if I’ve learned anything from all of this, it’s to remember that fact every single day.