I Was a Body Shamer – How I Changed My Mind About Body Positivity for Weight Loss
It has taken me 36 years to realise that I should be more loving of my body, whatever size she is right now. I used to think I would appreciate my body when the scales show X kilograms. Occasionally in my life, I reached that elusive ‘X’ number, and I still wasn’t happy.
I always believed that there was a magic number that would make me happy – I just had to find it.
I wasn’t grateful for all my body does to me. I wasn’t appreciative of her.
When Manifestation Doesn’t Work
2020 has been a year of transformation for me: I do not recognise the woman I was on 1st January. During this year, I’ve been playing at finding out what food works for my body. I’ve released a bit of weight here and there, but nothing like the amount that I wanted to and felt I needed to for health purposes.
This lack of weight release surprised me. As a manifestation coach, I know the importance of believing that it will happen. I expected the nutrition to help me release weight, given that the nutrition had normalised my thyroid hormone levels. Once I had practised this for seven or eight months, I realised that I was obviously missing something.
I was frustrated. I’m used to things happening on the Universe’s time, but I normally get little signs along the way. This time, I wasn’t getting anything like that. I realised that there had to be something out of alignment with my goal of weight release.
I began by ruling out all of the potential physical causes:
It wasn’t to do with higher muscle percentage.
My hormones blood panel showed everything in normal range.
I wasn’t over-exercising and causing inflammatory weight gain (been there, done that!).
My Body Positivity Judgement
I am part of a coaching programme, and one of the coaches was talking about how she loved her body regardless of her size. It was that comment that made me question whether this could be coming into play for me.
It was time to get deep and personal: what if the cause was psychological?
Now it’s not that I haven’t been exposed to the whole body positivity movement before. In fact, I will admit I have been incredibly judgmental about it. I misread the movement entirely, mostly because I was so unwilling to accept my own body.
I believed that body positivity, loving your body at any size, meant that you were promoting obese or anorexic body types. I saw the photographs of women celebrating their bodies as being potentially dangerous in prolonging the obesity crisis.
I couldn’t see they were celebrating their bodies – I could only view it as celebrating obesity.
I saw them as celebrating the means by which they had reached that size of body.
Then it dawned on me that being positive about their body did not mean being positive about their weight. We are so much more than our weight. Those women celebrating their bodies in body positivity forums are showing acceptance and love for the skin they’re in right now.
The truth is that when we look at someone, when we get to know someone, we should be able to see past the weight that they are. Physical beauty exists, regardless of someone’s size. Take my thigh tattoo, for example, it’s gorgeous whether I’m bigger or smaller – it simply stretches with my skin. Physical beauty may be made bigger by a higher number on the scale, but it still exists.
I appreciate my tattoo’s beauty as a piece of art, whether I am overweight or normal weight. It simply moves with the weight flow of body.
Of course, we’re all far more than just physical beauty, no matter how much it stays whatever size we are. We all have internal beauty – and that’s not changed at all by our weight. We are more than the number of the scale.
It was hard for me to see how much my body was doing for me. My thyroid, for example, that I dissed for being dysfunctional was actually doing the best it could. It couldn’t help being in dis-ease, it was simply a fact that it was in a state of hypothyroidism. It wasn’t to blame for my weight loss – if it had stopped working entirely, the symptoms would have been far worse. My thyroid kept trying hard, despite being thrown off its normal course by things happening within my body.
This was a first step in body positivity for me, realising that no one part of my body was ‘bad’. It simply was. I began to embrace neutrality, and stop criticising and bullying my body.
I had to come to understand that I was not condoning being obese. I also wasn’t condoning being a normal weight. And finally, I wasn’t condoning being underweight. It was time to stop thinking about weight as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it was simply data, just numbers on a scale.
It took a long time for me to see body positivity as separate from weight. Body positivity is about what our body can do for us. I’m breathing without having to think about it, my body takes in food and converts it to energy. This energy and the physical structure of my body allow me to walk, run, lift weights, go upstairs to bed, and so on.
The point of body positivity is that there are all these wonderful things that our bodies are doing for us, and it’s time to acknowledge that.
I was refusing to express gratitude for anything my body did because all I could focus on was my weight. I believed that my body was punishing me, rather than behaving as the incredible machine that it is.
The Inner Work of Weight Release
No matter how many ‘right’ or aligned things I did to release weight, I wasn’t doing the inner work that weight release requires. I had so much negativity towards my body that it was creating an energy that made me cling on to those extra pounds that I wanted to release.
Think about when someone has bullied you. If they were incredibly nasty most of the time, then asked you for a favour, before immediately going to back to their vitriol, what would you do? You’d never grant them the favour, would you?
By bullying my body, I made it feel unloved and unwilling to do what I was asking of it. I was blocking weight release, despite doing all the right ‘physical’ things (nutrition, exercise, and so on).
I’m not saying it feels comfortable to change towards body positivity. It’s so different from anything I’ve done in my 36 years that it’s bound to feel uncomfortable and disconcerting. Now, every time I go to the loo, I look in the mirror and I’ll say something nice to myself. I’ll look myself in the eye and I’ll really mean it.
I’ve tried affirmations in the past and haven’t stuck at them, but I now realise that this is a big step towards body acceptance and love.
I know that manifestation is a science – I am more than capable of creating the energy that will help me release weight. I just needed this extra piece of the jigsaw to help me fulfil that manifestation.
This lesson in body positivity has been an important one for me, and it’s also enabled me to see how judgmental I was being of others. I always expressed shock at ‘body shaming’ behaviour, and yet, although it was in my head, I was as bad as those trolling models’ Instagram comments online.
Body positivity is not about weight. It’s not about what size we are. It’s not about the number on the scale. I think body positivity is about what’s on the inside, as well as what’s on the outside. It’s about being grateful for everything our body does and has, whether inside or outside.
It’s been a difficult time for me. This has been a massive lesson from the Universe that I can’t manifest weight release until I have self-worth and self-love.
It’s such a difficult lesson to learn, but I want you to learn it. It’s uncomfortable, but after a few weeks, it became a new habit. My habit now is to love on myself. Even if you don’t want to change your weight, you will still benefit from body positivity – in its most basic form, it is simply self-love and self-worth. They’re very important traits.
You’ve done uncomfortable things before. You’ve stepped outside of your comfort zone a million times. This may be one of the most important ways in which you can get out of it.
I want to end by asking you to think or journal on one question:
How much would your life improve, if you improved your relationship with your body?