Friday Essay – Bodies

Too Skinny - Vintage AdA colleague – let’s call her Sandy – has lost a lot of weight over the summer.  A few days ago I overheard another colleague complimenting Sandy on her new ‘great’ look.  I didn’t say anything when I first saw Sandy at a meeting although I definitely noticed that she had lost weight.  I was, and remain, reluctant to comment because: 1) I don’t think it’s really my business; 2) if I say I think she looks good after having lost forty pounds does this mean I thought she looked gross when she was forty pounds heavier?; and 3) I’m sick and tired of women being told they look better when they’ve lost a few pounds. The societal ideal of the thin, ripped woman is nearly impossible to achieve and actually not really healthy.  I have no doubt that Sandy has worked very hard at the gym, has sacrificed a lot of milkshakes and is proud of her accomplishment.  And, she should be – I’m not going to say a woman shouldn’t set the goal of becoming healthier and achieve that goal.  What I’m saying is that I don’t like the gym.  I refuse to submit myself to the pain, discomfort and boredom that I find there.  Not to mention the expense of gym memberships and all the fancy clothes that are, apparently, necessary for sweating.  Also, I like food.  I refuse to ever feel hungry or deprived.  I have been there and it feels shitty.  I was on a weight loss program a few years ago.  I ate less than 1500 calories a day for months, rode my bike, walked, did yoga, aquafit and I lost forty pounds.  Then the weight loss program told me to increase my exercise and reduce my caloric intake to less than 1300 calories in order to reach my next weight loss goal.  F**k off!  I was hungry all the time, tired, dizzy and really not eating a healthful diet at all.  And, I felt like a failure. I refuse to ever feel that way again.

I admit, I’ve not been eating a very healthful diet in the last few months, but since I’ve been feeling unwell I’ve started looking into various ‘lifestyle diets’ that might help me become healthier and make my belly feel better.  I’ve also looked at few others in the past as well.  I’ve checked out the paleo lifestyle, the pH balance diet, diets to balance digestive flora, and some other health and wellness plans.  Almost all of them are variations on this:

1. Eat lots of vegetables and fruit; especially dark leafy greens and different coloured fruit and veggies;

2. Drink water; just water don’t put powdery flavouring into it;

3. Eat some good meat and/or protein; don’t overdo it, though;

4. Consume very few, if any, grain products; definitely avoid processed grain products;

5. Keep good fats in your diet, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and the like; avoid hydrogenated vegetable oils;

6. Avoid processed, sugar-laden and artificial sweetener-laden foods and drinks;

7. Make sure your guts are in good working order, have some yogurt and the like on a regular basis;

8. Get a moderate amount of exercise most days;

9. Indulge once in a while; it’s no good to feel deprived or that food is the enemy.

That’s it.  I can do that.  I can be healthy and feel better without spending a zillion dollars on gym memberships and fancy shoes.  I don’t have to eat weird food or follow some strange diet that involves a lot of cabbage or grapefruit (though I should eat cabbage and grapefruit).

Of course, for me, the important part of this is the desire to be healthy not thin or ripped or both. (Please, if that’s what you want go ahead, but it isn’t what I want.)  I don’t want to go to the gym or run for the sake of getting thin.  And, I don’t want to be ashamed of my body no matter what shape or size she decides to be.  I admit I’m lucky, my fella loves me just the way I am and as part of the burlesque community I have a great body-positive support system.  Not all women have these kinds of supports.  I hope that more of us will start to do things that make us feel good about our bodies that don’t have anything to do with impossible societal ideals.

Be Lovely to Each Other,