Sometimes I feel guilty about the food I eat. Recently, a photo was posted of me from a baby shower and I cringed looking at it. I have a double chin. I mean, I’ve always had somewhat of a double chin, it’s hereditary, I don’t have a lot of space between my chin and my neck. When I have any sort of weight gain, whether it’s a little or lot, I seem to gain it in my second chin. When I look in the mirror, I’m not completely happy with the reflection. So I bitch and complain about my pants being tighter and self-loathe some more.
The reality is, I love food. I love trying new foods and indulging in savory and delectable delights. I also don’t really like exercising. Sometimes I get on that train and I ride it out, always being impressed with how well my body responds. But I eventually fall off of that train and so the cycle continues. I know it’s unhealthy, physically, mentally, and emotionally. But am I that unhealthy? No. Do I eat really poorly? No. Do I ever have any negative health effects from my weight or diet? No.
This whole issue that I have about my weight and my body is all in my head. I’ve been conditioned to believe that to be beautiful, I need to be thing, or strong, or fit, or whatever else. I compare myself to other women in an unhealthy way. I think to myself, “maybe if I just start eating less” as if that’s a good option. I congratulate myself when I deny myself of popcorn or chips, or when I stay true to my “no food after 8pm rule”. But when I succumb to my cravings, when I just can’t ignore that rumble in my tummy or that super cheap sushi down the street, I hate myself. I indulge and immediately feel pangs of regret. What a sad mode of existence.
I see other women do this to themselves too; hating themselves for what they’ve eaten, feeling guilty for having ate *god forbid* an entire chocolate bar. What exactly are all of these negative feelings doing to our bodies? We are always talking about the power of language and positivity. We send prayers and good vibes to each other in times of sorrow, sadness, or desperation. In the same breath, we scold ourselves for having polished off that bag of bite sized Twix that we originally convinced ourselves to buy because it’s better to have one mini-Twix than eating an entire regular bar, but now that we’ve ate 15 mini-Twix, we would have been better off with the regular bar.
Guilt is such a useless feeling. Sure, we learn from it, but hanging onto it does nothing for us. I know what my food guilt feels like. It’s that knot somewhere in between my throat and my stomach and that sudden itch to actually consider vomiting as a viable solution. I would be lying if that thought hadn’t crossed my mind. Fortunately, I developed a fear of vomiting at a young age so I never gave in to those thoughts, but I know many people have and do, all in the name of thinness.
My New Year’s Resolution likely won’t be singular. I have many aspects of my life that I want to work on. I thrive on growth and change as I continuously aim to be the best possible version of myself. My body image will most definitely be one of those things. I won’t be signing up for a gym membership like I did last year, I won’t make that fake promise that I will somehow pull the motivation out of my ass to exercise more at home. Instead, I’m going to put my energy into loving myself with no deadlines or goal weights, no cheat meals (if there were ever a better way that our language manipulated us into thinking we needed to feel guilt about something!) no wagon to jump onto and subsequently fall off of. I’ll continue to eat food that makes me happy with flavours that dance on my tongue and make me wiggle with enjoyment.
If it’s true that we only live once, I don’t want to spend my days counting calories, shaming myself, envying other women. I also don’t want to take my own personal successes with my weight or body size and turn it into a goal that other women should be compelled to match. We are all built differently, with different genetic make-up, different abilities, different time constraints, etc. There is no one mold that we can possibly all fit into.
So the next time you feel guilty for ordering Chinese food or feel pride in the fact that you only ate vegetables in one day, remember that first and foremost, you need to love yourself and your body unconditionally. Feeling good comes from the inside out. If all you do today is go for a walk around the block or say no to that extra helping, that’s ok. In contrast if you decide to snuggle up on the couch and melt that extra spoonful of butter onto the bowl of popcorn bigger than your head, that’s ok too!
Don’t get me wrong, if you diet and exercise and do all of those really great things for your body, that’s awesome too! Even more reason for you not to feel bad about those little extras!