It’s that time again: the new year when we all reflect on the year that passed and start to set goals for the year ahead. So let’s get right down to it. How many of you have set the goal to lose weight in 2011? No, seriously. Even if your goal is to “be more active” or “eat healthier,” many times those politically correct goals still often hide our deeper desire – something we know we’re not supposed to use as a New Year’s resolution. Losing weight.
First, let’s start with the biggest issue here. The desire to be thinner. I think it would be pretty hard to find a woman in our culture who hasn’t wanted to be thinner at least once in her life. Most of us seem to always believe that our bodies could use some improvement. Even my barely-100-pound friends refer to themselves as “pudgy.” Hmmm…
I recently read Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi and wasn’t surprised by anything I read. I, like many other women, have had my own battles with eating disorders, compulsive behavior and rabid self-hatred. The entire time I was reading the book, I was struck with how old this problem is and how ongoing…no end in sight. And why? Because of a culturally determined feminine ideal that represents about 5% of women?
Frankly, I’m sick of it all. I’m so tired of thinking about my body and the way I look. I’m sick of seeing the newest diet books in the stores, the “30 days to a thinner waist” diets on the magazine covers, the buffed and brushed models and actresses in the media. It just gets boring after a while. We’re all smart enough to recognize pointless patterns like trying to lose weight so we can look like __________ (insert model/actress here), trying to find that perfect haircut, the perfect manicure…waiting for the day when we finally fit into a size 6. Or 4. Or 2.
Enough is enough. I don’t want to waste my time on such matters anymore. Guess what? I’m a bit chubby. My thighs are shaped like ice cream cones – tiny at the knee, super wide at the top. Oh well. I have a muffin top that won’t quit and I haven’t found a pair of pants that could defeat it. Oh well. My butt is square-shaped and droops just a bit. Oh well!
Yes, I have gained a bit of weight this holiday season. I ate way too much dairy, way too much sugar and now my muffin top is threatening to bust all the zippers on my pants. We’ve had lots and lots of snow and I haven’t been able to bicycle around town like I usually do – I’ve been mostly confined to my home-based yoga practice. So my muscles are strong, but I’ve gotten quite doughy. I’m a little bit anxious about it. I’m not super thrilled when I look in the mirror, and I wouldn’t put on a bathing suit in public if you paid me. I’m so tempted to start setting goals, cutting certain foods from my diet, adding more cardio to my workouts…
But I won’t. What’s the point? Since I lost 50 pounds in 2007, my weight has fluctuated about 15 pounds here and there. It always gets high around the holidays and then summer comes, and I go back down. Even at my best, though, I still have my chubby tummy and my thighs still look like ice cream cones and my butt is still square and droopy. I don’t mind that. That’s just my body. Yes, sometimes, I wish I had thighs like Nicole Kidman, but I don’t and that’s okay.
So what happens if I don’t do a thing to change my diet and exercise habits as 2011 approaches? Will I gain 20 more pounds, have to buy a new wardrobe, watch everyone step back in disgust as I get bigger and bigger? LOL. Nope. As the weeks go by, I’ll slowly get back to my old eating routines. I’ll get sick of eating so much sugar and fat. The snow will melt and I’ll start biking more and driving less. Our CSA will begin again and we’ll be overflowing with delicious veggies. I’ll lose these extra holiday pounds without even noticing.
Now I know many of you may have legitimate weight loss goals that may be important for your health. But I think for most people, the more we let go, the less we will have to worry about our weight. And most importantly, most of us need to remember that we shouldn’t BE worried about our weight in the first place! I think there are more important things we can do with our time.
If you feel uncomfortable not having a New Year’s Resolution that involves your health and/or appearance, then I challenge you to this one: RADICAL SELF-ACCEPTANCE. Even when you have gained weight. We have a lot of negative cultural perceptions surrounding extra weight. It tends to be associated with laziness, lack of attractiveness, failure, and a load of other awful things. But we get to define our own lives, our own selves. It is our privilege to make our own judgments about anything and everything. Yes, our privilege to look in the mirror and smile at ourselves, even when our tummy chub is blossoming over the waistband of our panties! LOL. We can call our extra inches “cute” and believe that it is. We can love the body we have. It’s just a matter of choice.
This year, don‘t count calories. Just stay active, eat mostly fresh, natural foods and love love love what you see in the mirror, no matter what it is.