Weight loss trials and tribulations

There is nothing so demoralising when you’re trying to lose weight than stepping on the scale and seeing that you haven’t made any progress. The realisation is one I’ve had to deal with many times in the past, during my multiple attempts to lose weight over the years, and it’s one that I’ve also been dealing with over the past several weeks. 

My most recent weight loss effort began on 1st January, as one of my New Year’s resolutions. I’d been attempting to stay fit and eat less on and off for a few months before that, but it wasn’t until this year began that I really committed to that goal. I can say with some pride, that’s it’s a goal that I’ve managed to keep working towards even this far into the year. I work out regularly, diet, and hope for the best every time I step on the scale.

Earlier on in the year I was making slow but steady progress, but recently I seem to have hit a wall. I still workout regularly, still try to make sure I’m eating the right amount to allow me to lose weight, and yet the number on the scale still isn’t moving in the direction I want it to anymore.

It’s a frustrating situation to be in and, in the past, it’s a situation that’s pushed me to give up and let myself become less active and to start overeating. However this time, at least so far, that hasn’t been the case. Instead, I’ve tried to adjust my workout regimen and my eating a few times, in attempt to get those numbers moving again, but unfortunately it hasn’t worked. Yet, I still haven’t given up, and for that I’m proud. Additionally, not giving up on that goal has allowed it to help me outside of the weight loss itself.

Firstly, my weight loss resolution has helped me keep active during the coronavirus lockdown, during which I could have let myself grow quiet. Honestly, other than running, I only ever leave the house to go grocery shopping and to go on driving lessons. So it’s good that I have something else to get me out of the house.

My current weight loss effort has also been helping me to improve my eating habits and my relationship with food. I’ve never been that good with food, either I overeat, or I am overly strict with myself because I’m trying to lose weight quickly. This year, however, I aimed to lose weight gradually. Not starving myself has helped me to keep my cravings at better and to gain better control of my impulses to overeat, while also leaving enough room for the occasional treat.

So, overall, I’ve made some progress towards my weight loss goal, and benefitted from the regular exercise and calorie counting otherwise. Additionally, I’ve been able to feel some pride at the work I’ve put in to lose weight i.e. controlling myself when it comes to food, and regular workouts. For now, those benefits have been enough to keep me on track, and prevent any binges or skipping out on runs.

Nevertheless, I would like to keep moving towards my ultimate goal, so in the coming weeks and months I’ll change up my weight loss plan a bit, and see if that helps. If so, then brilliant. If not, then it is what it is. I may have just hit my limit, and my time might better be spend working towards my other fitness goals besides my weight. (I’ve been thinking about getting back into weightlifting for some time now, and with gyms open again I should be able to do so.)

Whatever the outcome, hopefully I can keep hold of some of the good habits I’m developing relating to food and physical activity. I’m also hopeful that I continue to not let myself be too swayed in my moods or my behaviour by the number I see when I step on the scale, or even by the way I look in the mirror.

I can work on aspects of my fitness like my weight and the definition of my muscles, but I may never be able to achieve a particular number or a particular aesthetic. That, along with learning to be happy and comfortable with my own body as it is, is something I’m really working to internalise right now. Based on the way things have been going so far, it’s seemingly starting to stick. And that, maybe more than anything I’ve achieved in moving towards my body goals, is something I’m really quite proud of.

Weight loss and body positivity

A question I’ve found myself pondering occasionally is whether weight loss, as a goal, can exist alongside body positivity, a movement which encourages individuals and society to accept all types of bodies. This includes bodies that are larger than is typically considered ideal or beautiful by society, or represented in the media.

It’s a question I ponder because I’ve come across arguments surrounding weight loss within the movement, and seen people that are involved in the movement or support the movement victimised for making the decision to lose weight.

While I understand why weight loss might cause contention amongst body positivity advocates and supporters. There is always the possibility when someone loses weight that they are being influenced by societal ideals, something the movement is trying to encourage rejection of. Additionally, when someone chooses to lose weight it could feel to others that the person is failing to live up to the standard of self and social acceptance that it tried to encourage.

Nevertheless, I disagree with handling the perceived problem by rejecting that person from the movement.

Even if social ideals and the resulting pressure to conform are playing a part, is that any reason to demonise the person who has seemingly fallen victim to those ideals? Shouldn’t people within a movement about positivity not be more positive when faced a situation like that? And, wouldn’t it be better to meet a person making that decision with kindness, remining them that they don’t have to aim to look a certain way and that they are perfect as they are, but ultimately leave them to make their own decision?

In order: No; yes; and yes. At least in my opinion.

In a world where smaller and fitter bodies are considered the ideal, yes, its difficult to discern if that ideal dominates a person’s decision to lose weight. Even in my own case it’s hard to know how much of me is motivated by social pressure and the words that were said about and directed to a younger, chubbier me, and how much I’m motivated to lose weight because I want to be physically fit for myself and to gain physical stamina and strength.

But it is worth noting that other reasons do exist for wanting to lose weight, like to improve your health, or just wanting to achieve a particular level of physical fitness for yourself.

Reasoning aside, I just believe an individual should be able to make decisions about their body (within the limits of health) without fear of judgement, especially within in a sphere whose messages include non-judgement. Whether a person is small, or large, or making the decision to put in some work to move their body’s physicality along the diverse spectrum which exists, that should be allowed to feel happy. However, where health is a concern, then that is a time for external support, delivered with some compassion.

Where the movement comes in, is alleviating social pressure so people might be able to make decisions about their bodies without potentially detrimental external influence. At least that’s how I view things.

It could be viewed as slightly hypocritical, but I believe in the movement’s efforts despite my own efforts with my body. And, despite not being completely happy with my body at the moment, weight loss and fitness goals aside, I think I’m starting to get there. I know I’m certainly much happier and more comfortable in my own skin that I remember being so often in the past. I definitely still have some ways to go in that regard, but I’m happy with the progress I have made so far, and that I can continue along that journey towards self-acceptable.

Moreover, I hope the movement continues progressing in its aim to shed light on marginalised bodies and challenge society’s ideals. Because, despite the infighting in the movement and certain controversial aspects of it, I agree that all people deserve to feel good about themselves and to be comfortable in their skin.

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