I have a confession to make.
At any given moment in time, if I am really truly honest with myself, I really want to lose five pounds. Although I feel healthier now than I ever have felt before, since slowly changing my eating habits since college, my deep rooted focus is those last five pounds.
But “last” is such a relative term when I’m referring to these five pounds because even when I lose three pounds, I still want to lose just five more pounds. Does that sound, well, uh, crazy? I think so too, but it’s taken me a good five years to pinpoint this as an issue and to really step back and be honest about my desire to lose five pounds no matter what my present body weight.
Even at the thinnest points of my life, which I can rattle off to you because they are so vivid in my mind (age: 13, summer of 18, winter of 20, winter of 21), I still yearned to lose those last five pounds. Ever the perfectionist, nothing is ever good enough, especially when it comes to myself.
But doesn’t every woman want to lose just five more pounds? Isn’t every woman hanging on to about five pounds she just isn’t willing to diet away? (I’m using five pounds because this is what I’ve always considered to be my “extra” weight, yours may be more or less).
This is where society, and if we’re honest, our fellow females have betrayed us. As women, we have been conditioned and have conditioned ourselves to believe that it is perfectly healthy to loathe those last five pounds and to accept this loathing as a way of life. We tell this to ourselves and to each other so we don’t feel too bad about those five pounds, because everyone is carrying them around (in their head and/or body) and everyone hates them just as we do.
I’m sure you’ve also heard this little nugget of wisdom from another female, who was attempting to comfort you about your insecurities and probably her own as well: Tell me one woman you know who is completely satisfied with her weight and her body. I know I’ve heard that one before. We have a little sisterhood going on here that includes everyone but supermodels, although I’m sure some of them would love to join this club as well. It’s the sisterhood of I hate my body. Or at least, I don’t accept my body as it is. We use this inclusive sisterhood as a way to make ourselves feel better because misery loves company. BUT, in creating this cozy little society of every woman, we have subliminally said to one another “You should hate your body”.
Don’t believe me? The next time one or more of your friends is complaining about the last five pounds, their big butt, or paunchy stomach, I want you to say, “ I wouldn’t change a thing about myself, ” and see what kind of reaction you get.
Thankfully, as an adult I’ve learned that you don’t have to be friends with people who subconsciously promote unhealthy feelings in myself. My last five pounds loathing might have been brought on by the sisterhood we have created (I’m including myself in this), but I’ve done a pretty good job at maintaining the non-acceptance of my imperfection, all by myself.
Several months ago I read Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. I grasped the concepts of the book intellectually, but nothing in the book really spoke to me on a level that incited behavioral change. If you have read my About page, you’ll know that I’ve sworn off dieting (for a about a year). However, the last five pounds wishfulness and the thoughts of, if I just eat really clean for several weeks, they’ll just melt away, never went away.
Last week I hit a pivotal point in my relationship with food and my body. During this period of self-reflection, I simple just got fed up with the whole idea that I was going to forever walk through life being dissatisfied with myself. Because the five pounds is not holding me back from contentment with myself and who I am as a person, it’s the idea of the five pounds. The idea that I’m never going to be truly happy and that I’m not living up to my full potential as long as I’m still holding on to this extra weight.
So do you know what I did? I told myself that I might be just as I am physically forever, and that would be a wonderful thing. But what would not be a wonderful thing is if I am mentally like this forever, always hoping and wishing that I’ll figure out the path to perfection and happiness with the annihilation of those five pounds.
I didn’t just go through the motions, I really truly internalized this notion of being happy with myself, just as I am right at this moment. I thought about what it might feel like to always eat what I truly want because I want it and exercise because it makes me feel good, not because I need to cancel out the food I ate that day.
And do you know how it felt? It felt like a weight had been taken off of my heart. I literally felt my heart jump in my chest when I internalized this acceptance. I can tell you without a doubt that this feeling was completely new because I have never accepted myself in this way. And I mean that. Never.
So why am I writing this? Why am I sharing this with you? Because I want you and every woman out there to feel this way too. There are other women out there who truly have accepted themselves. There are plenty of normal everyday women (i.e. not supermodels) who are truly happy with themselves. They may work on being a better mother, practice self growth, or be working towards a career goal, but they don’t hate a part of their body. They’re really no different physically than you or me, but they have something a lot of women do not have, self acceptance.
Figuring out which kind of woman you are is crucial. Some women loathe their bodies openly and don’t have to question this. I did this openly for about 17 years (I started early), then hid it in my mind, internally engaging in dissatisfaction for the past couple of years. Identifying this and playing it out in my head for the next 60 years was the turning point for me.
So the question is, what kind of woman are you? The kind who accepts herself or always wants to lose those last X pounds? If you’re quietly (or not so quietly) wishing away those last five pounds, can you bear to live this way forever?
This is more of a rhetorical question to ask yourself. Please don’t feel like you have to respond unless you really want to share your story. I would love to hear it. 🙂