On the eve of 2011, lots of people are gearing up with New Year's Resolutions. In an instant, it seems, we are bombarded with loads of bullshit weight loss ads, gizmos, plans, gym memberships, and fake food luring us into the fantasy of ideal thinness. This year, I am bowing out of the resolution craze, and joining with my Health at Every Size sisters and brothers to do something different! This year, it's all about a New Year's Revolution!
Yes, it is time to let go of the shame, restriction, and body hate! Whoot!
My plan for marking the revolution this year is to take topics from Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon, and talk about authentic health, true well-being, and loving ourselves rather than hating ourselves. I know, radical right? If you haven't read this book, I urge you to do so. Whether you face body image, eating, and weight issues or not, this book will profoundly impact how you treat yourself and your body, and how you interact with other people about their bodies.
So, a starting place. The first thing I want to talk about is the myth that being thin will fix your (or my) life. If you are following along with the HAES book, you can join me in making a list of your own beliefs about thinness on page 175. If you don't have the book, here are the simple instructions: Make a list of what you have believed you will gain from being thin. OK, here we go with mine:
These are the things I once believed about being thin:
1. When I am thin, people will like me better/be nicer to me
2. When I am thin, I will find a boyfriend/love/a husband/etc.
3. When I am thin, my Dad (family in general) will say nice things to and about me, instead of critical things
4. When I am thin, I will be accepted and complimented
5. When I am thin, I will be able to feel confident in new situations
6. When I am thin, I will finally be pretty - and not just my face
7. When I am thin, I won't worry about food so much
8. When I am thin, I won't have to diet anymore
9. When I am thin, I will be "normal"
10. When I am thin, I can do the real work I want to do
11. When I am thin, I will be athletic/enjoy sports
12. When I am thin, I will like my body and will treat it well
13. When I am thin, I will be successful
I could go on and on, here, but for now, I think this demonstrates the point. For a long time, I waited to do all sorts of things until the magical day when I became thin. I waited to live until my body finally cooperated, and the diet finally worked. I pinned all my hopes on being thin, and blamed all the bad stuff in my life on being fat!
Thinness was fantasy, a magical place where I could be or do anything, my relationships would all be great, I would love myself, and I would be successful and fulfilled all the days of my life. Um... really? That would mean that I would have had to put off marriage to my fantastic and loving husband, wonderful friendships, school, work, yoga, sports, and anything where other people might happen to be. It would mean never taking any risks, or putting myself out there. It would mean wallowing in the notion that one day I will be OK, but today I am worthless because my size doesn't fit the social prescription for fitting in. That is ludicrous. And also terribly painful because it would mean that I can never be the person I want to be until I change the shape of my body through some kind of torturous and scientifically-guaranteed-to-fail diet plan.
The real problem with this thinking is that no matter what my size is, I am who I am, and other people are who they are. I can't change all of that with magical thinness. I can't make people like me all of the time, or get my family to be less critical, or be the most successful and confident person in the world by becoming thin. It is a fantasy that keeps me from having to work on the real issues in my life - like learning to really love myself, communicating with family about how I would like to be treated, or working hard on the things that are important to me in my life (work, school, etc.). If I accept that these things are not gained by thinness, then I have to accept my responsibility for working towards being the person I want to be, even if it is scary.
My number one New Year's Revolution goal is to live my life fully, right now. The reality is that I may never be thin (yes, there is alot of science backing me up on this), and accepting that means accepting responsibility for living my life in the most abundant way possible (pun intended, of course!). Taking a look at my list of magical thin powers, what I notice is that most of what I used to believe related to being in my body while being in the world. What I was really hoping for in that list was deep, supportive, positive and meaningful connections with my body, myself, and other people in the world. With that in mind, here is a list of things that I am doing in revolution this year:
1. I will choose to be around mutually supportive, respectful, loving, and genuine friends
2. I will thank God every day for my sweet husband who thinks I am beautiful
3. I will engage my family in supporting each other more positively
4. I will accept and compliment myself :)
5. I will take risks in new social situations
6. I will wear clothes that I like, and show off my lovely, round, and smokin' hot body - and my beautiful face
7. I won't wait until I am thin to quit worrying about food so much. I might even listen to my body, rather than beat up on it!
8. I won't diet or use a scale as punishment anymore
9. I will be who I am, even if it isn't always "normal"
10. I will continue doing the real work I want to do, and move on things I have been putting off
11. I am athletic and I enjoy sports, which is truly remarkable to me now given all of the horrendous and shaming gym classes as a child. I think will just claim it now!
12. I will like my body and will treat it well. Period.
13. I will pursue living fully to the best of my ability
Wow, I feel better already! Switching those out was really fun! What I notice is that I am already doing most of these things! Some, of course, require more practice, and with others it is time to start. I am a living, breathing work-in-progress, after all. I hope your new list makes you as happy as mine did. Here's to a joyful beginning to 2011, and to a revolution in health and happiness!