Monday, 31 January 2011

The Difference a Year Makes

Trigger warning: Contains discussing of body hatred and past dieting. Proceed with caution.

I've spent a lot of time in the last few weeks pondering just how far I've come in a year. It is slightly difficult to believe right now that this time last year I was in hate middle of one of the worst periods of self hatred in my life. I hated everything about myself. I was researching diet and exercise tactics to find the best methods of losing weight. I was researching weight loss surgery and reading blogs by survivors about how the horrible side effects were worth it. I was seriously considering the mutilation of my digestive tract just to drop a few dress sizes.

My self esteem was shot, my self image was about as negative as it could get. I have no doubts now that I was depressed. I remember one evening last December/January that I spent sobbing my eyes out because I felt I was so disgusting. And then on the First of February last year I started what was the first official diet of my life. It was a thoroughly miserable period of my life.

And was all that misery worth it? Was the diet worth the deprivation and the torment and the near constant hunger? Was it worth the guilt that came from slipping up? Was it worth the increased hatred of myself because I couldn't use a skipping rope for five measly minutes a day? I have to say that it's a resounding no.

There was never much to show for the six weeks or so I was actively dieting. If I lost weight at all it was minimal; I think I more experienced a rearrangement of where my fat lived. To be honest I never expected that much. I never bought into the Fantasy of Being Thin (FoBT). Actually being thin is a goal that is so far out of my reach as to be nigh on impossible. Even the aim of my diet wasn't to be "thin", merely to be "less fat". And I guess that fueled the self hatred; that I was so far out of the "normal" (BMI) range that I had to settle for just being less fat.

Well you know what screw that. Last January was one of the most miserable periods of my life, which is saying something considering the effort other people have put into making my life miserable in the past.

I am so grateful to Sam for introducing me to Big Fat Deal. It was the starting point for my journey into Fat Acceptance. And not just into Fat Acceptance, but in to Everything Acceptance. It has lead me to the fight for equality, the fight against bigotry in all it's forms. It literally changed my life.

This year, this January, I am writing from a very different perspective. In some ways I am a very different person to the one who started this blog a year ago. Instead of hating myself for being fat, I am in the process of learning to love the body I inhabit, and the fantastic things it is capable of. I subscribe to the radical notion that a persons body is their own to do with what they please, including fat people, including me. To borrow a phrase from Dances With Fat; I am the boss of my own underpants. I believe that no one has the right to comment on another persons body, or bully them into changing it. I believe that each and every person has the right to live how they chose, and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

I also believe in the principles of Health At Every Size (HAES) and have chosen these as a guiding principle for my life. But I also believe that Health is not a moral imperative. If someone chooses not to be healthy then that is their decision; they are the boss of their own underpants. I believe that the constant pressure we all face to strive for health is problematic and possibly misplaced. The pressure to strive for health is attempting to force all human beings into a narrow band of acceptability and ignoring the natural diversity that exists in nature.

Given the massive changes I have undergone in my beliefs, my body image and my self esteem this year, something struck me as slightly odd. In some respects I am trying to make some changes to my life that are similar to the changes I tried to make when dieting. I'm increasing the amount of exercise I do and making changes to my diet in order to make it healthier.

The big difference is that this time I'm doing it from a position of self love and respect. I'm doing more exercise because I know moving my body is good for me; I want to treat my body as well as possible and this include exercise. I'm trying to find ways of moving my body that are fun and pleasurable, not only because this means I'm more likely to do it, but because having fun and enjoying myself helps me love myself and my body more. I'm doing more exercise because it makes me feel good, because I can see and feel the difference in myself.

My new attitude towards myself is even more evident in the changes I'm making to the food I eat. Instead of taking things out of my diet, I'm adding things in. Instead of restricting, I'm increasing. Adding new things in naturally reduces the amount of some other things I eat but reduction is not the ultimate goal. I'm trying new things and eating food I enjoy. And it feels a hundred times better than restricting my food intake through a calorie controlled diet.

I honestly believe that a person cannot make positive lasting changes to their life from a position of self hate. I believe that positive change can only come from a position of self love. Today I am taking steps to enact positive changes; I’m not trying to change my body, I’m trying to change what it can do. And you know what? I am much happier for it.


  1. Isn't a look back a good thing nowdays? Where once you would look back at where you were and feel frustration, or regret that things hadn't miraculously got better, sadness that perhaps in the past you were thinner, or more active.

    But now, you look back and just see how far you've come.

  2. It's fantastic. Looking back now makes me see how much I've gained in the past year as opposed to how much I've lost or haven't lost.

    Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.