I noticed something interesting in my journalling recently. When I write about my goals for continued weight loss, and staying committed to my training for mountain trail races as well as increasing my personal fitness, there is a feeling of guilt that exists around these topics.
As I have been working my way (more then once!) through the Desire Map program, I’ve learned something key to my flourishing – that wanting what you want is OKAY, and that you don’t need to feel guilty or ashamed of your desires. Especially the pure, good, healthy, holistic, life-enhancing ones!
So why the guilt when I write about my continued health and weight loss goals?
I think it has to do with some crusty, old, unhelpful and polarized thought patterns that still live in my brain surrounding body image and definitions of “healthy weight”. As I was overweight most of my life, I found myself caught between two schools of thought about my body:
1. That my body is perfect at any shape, size, or fitness level and I should accept it exactly as is.
and, on the other side of the spectrum…
2. That my body was made to be healthy, active, and athletic, and there is no genetic reason or ‘disposition’ that can be blamed for being overweight other than unhealthy lifestyle/eating habits learned over time through family/cultural conditioning. That being overweight is a problem that needs to be fixed so I can be as close to a healthy weight as possible.
These are the two extremes of “healthy” body ideology – one that seems to say of a healthy weight/BMI “who cares”, and one that seems to say “this is extremely important!”. I am now in a place where I can honestly say that I am leaning more towards the latter than the former; however, I am not allowing myself to go all the way to ‘the other side’. It’s been interesting to see my perspective evolve as I have personally broken free from limiting habits and thought patterns, maintained healthy weight loss and increased my fitness levels. Why? Because this was something I didn’t believe I was capable of before, when I was leaning more towards the “who cares” side of the body argument. I was proven wrong – by myself.
The truth of the matter is, I do care. I care about how I look and more important, how I feel in this body I inhabit. I care about having the freedom to move and participate and experience things IN my body, WITH my body, BECAUSE of my body. When I was obese, I may have told myself that it was totally acceptable to be overweight, accept yourself completely as is, and not push yourself to change, but I think that was primarily homeostasis, fear, and lack of self confidence on my part. Yeah, it’s true – radical self acceptance is a good way to stay outside of negative societal pressure and media bull crap, but – and bear with me on this but – what happens when we radically accept things about ourselves that are actually harming us? Like binge eating disorders that are self abusive to the body? Excess weight that prevents us from trying a sport we’ve always wanted to try or running around with our kids? From enjoying a healthy sex life? High fat and sugar consumption that causes diabetes, heart disease, degenerative disease, early aging? Heaviness that negatively impacts us personally and professionally because we can’t show up and be fully present, or work as hard as the rest, or are constantly ill due to obesity-related complications?
So here’s my thought, based on personal experience – take it or leave it, but at least consider it:
Radical self acceptance is only healthy when it follows radical self responsibility. And radical self responsibility means taking an honest account of what is TRULY not working for you, holding you back, or negatively impacting your life and the lives of those you love. In my opinion, obesity caused by overeating, lack of exercise, emotional wounding, and fear SHOULD NOT BE SOMETHING WE RADICALLY ACCEPT. IT SHOULD BE SOMETHING WE RADICALLY TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR AND BREAK FREE FROM. We CAN do this. It IS possible. It just means changing your mind. 🙂
There. I’ve said my piece. And this is not an anti-overweight rant. Quite the opposite. This is about identifying mental blocks and hurdles where they exist, and facing them head on rather than glossing over them and allowing self acceptance to become a limiting factor. I was an overweight person. I know how challenging it is to overcome life-long habits and thought patterns, and that radical self responsibility taking is a mountain to climb. This is just a reflection on my part about the guilt I saw creeping in for wanting to be thin. This is me saying to myself, “I believe that it’s a good thing to be thin and healthy. It’s what I want, it’s what I’ve worked for, and it fits with my evolving life goals.” And this thought comes POST radical self responsibility taking. 😉
It’s amazing how your thinking can shift!
Thanks for hearing me out.