Can you love your body and actively try to lose weight?
There’s a large portion of the body love community that believes you cannot have a weight loss goal while engaged in this whole body love thing. A while back, I read an article posted by a prominent body love advocate, and her response got me thinking about my health. Then, it had me feeling like a body love fraud.
You see, I’ve considered myself to be at the forefront of the body love movement for years — I’ve even written a book about it! But now, my health requires that I make an effort toward lowering that number on the scale, and I’m having a lot of conflicting emotions.
For years, I’ve managed the symptoms of a neurological condition (migraines, basically) through a pretty strict diet. For my brain to work properly and not make me feel like I’m dying (seriously, one time I was paralyzed from the neck down and thought I was literally dying), I have to follow some dietary guidelines.
I know my triggering foods as well as lifestyle habits, and I know the situations that cause my attacks that are out of my control as well. For example, changes in barometric pressure can trigger an attack, and I have no control over that. Running fast (which I used to love) is now ruled out. I absolutely CANNOT miss yoga weekly, or I’m setting myself up for disaster. These lifestyle limits, modifications, and additions are part of my self-care, and I happily adhere to what I know is best for me.
The diet thing? That’s a little harder to wrap my head around.
For years, I lived with disordered eating which turned into an eating disorder requiring significant therapeutic intervention to heal. Imagine being free of the burden that is food restriction for years only to have a new set of “food rules” imposed upon you. That’s what happened to me about three years ago.
That neurological episode in which I thought I was dying? After an MRI to rule out anything more serious, I was told to avoid all my known migraine triggers to do my best to prevent another attack. Want to know the best way to trigger a relapse in someone recovered from an eating disorder? IMPOSE FOOD RULES!
For the past two years, I’ve substantially lowered my intake of lots of awesome, yummy, even healthy foods. From certain grains to chocolate, alcohol to shellfish, my diet has become restrictive. So I wouldn't relapse, I focused on my health and wellness. Cutting out these foods was never about weight loss.
Only now, it is — and this has me feeling like a body love fraud.
Recently, I was diagnosed with a relatively rare form of acid reflux that greatly impacts my throat and vocal chords. I never had heartburn and didn’t know this was even a thing, but apparently, if even the littlest bit of stomach acid makes its way into your pharynx and larynx area, it super sucks. Before being diagnosed, I spent weeks with a dry cough and hoarse voice, not sleeping for days at a time because I was coughing all night long with a cough that even the strongest suppressants couldn’t touch.
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Treatment for this disease is a laundry list of research-backed, evidence-based interventions including weight loss. So now, more than seven years after my last eating disorder recovery therapy session, for the first time in a long time, I’m actively trying to lose weight.
I’m obviously treating this journey very differently from the baby carrot-counting days of my past, but my end goal is still weight loss. Specifically, the goal is weight loss to resolve my symptoms and have me feeling awesome.
I know I’m not the only body loving lady who needs to lose weight for health reasons. So what are we to do?
Can one be part of this whole body love community and actively try to lose weight?
I say, heck yes! Watch me!
I’m not trying to change my body because I’m hating on it. I’m not trying to drop sizes for bikini season or to fit into some pre-pregnancy jeans in the back of my closet or to impress former classmates at a reunion. I’m working to lose weight so that I can sleep through the night without coughing, so that I don’t need surgery or have to rely on medications for the rest of my life, so that I can make it through a session with a client without coughing uncontrollably for two whole minutes. I am working to lose weight so that I can sing lullabies to my children, so that my throat stops feeling like it has a peach pit covered in needles stuck in it. These are good reasons to lose weight.
I want to lose weight because I love myself and my body enough to take good care of it. Today, for me, right now, that means having tea instead of an evening cocktail on Friday nights. It means not letting the salad mix go bad at the bottom of the fridge. It means I’m drinking more water throughout the day. It also means trying to switch from creamy canned coconut milk to unsweetened almond milk in my coffee, and then deciding that life is not worth living unless my coffee is extra creamy and switching back.
Yes, I am actively trying to lose weight and no, I am not a body love fraud. I believe I can love my body with all my might while trying to improve it in a way that will help me feel better for the rest of my life.
There is no shame in taking excellent care of our bodies not because we hate them but because we love them. Isn’t that what this whole body love thing is about anyway?