My body is not a topic

I can’t believe how much body and diet talk I hear every single day — at my job. Politics are inappropriate because they are so divisive, but trashing our bodies? Yes please, lots of that. We can all agree on hating our bodies.

Gross.

The billion-dollar diet industry has made bodies, especially female bodies, a topic of discussion, dissection, dissatisfaction. But not mine. Not today, satan.

What the heck am I supposed to say in those awful, awkward diet culture moments at work? I wish I knew. I’m still working on that. But this is what I want to say:

I have drawn lines around myself. I decide where they go. I get to decide who is allowed to cross them, and under what circumstances. My body isn’t up for debate or discussion. My terms, my terminology.

I don’t want to talk about how much I ate, or didn’t eat.

I don’t want to answer questions about how I exercise, or don’t.

I don’t want to talk about how my body looks or looked or could look.

It’s no one’s business but mine.

I can’t believe I have to say this out loud.

I will not match other people’s negativity as a show of solidarity. I will not spend another day on that sinking ship, but please — join me here on solid ground.

I spent too many years thinking I was too big. Now I just want to think.

I spent too many years trying to be smaller. Now I just want to be.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Tammy says:

    Thank you for the new article and your inspiration. This makes a lot of sense and yes you have to say it out loud unfortunately. Thank you again

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Tammy! It means so much to me that you took the time to read and comment. Let’s keep saying these things out loud until the world starts listening! All the best to you!

      Like

  2. So true! I am so sick of constant talk about dieting and gym. Enough! I can’t control other people but I can control some things. Eg a while back I made a rule that whenever a person or page on Facebook posts something about dieting, I unfollow! It’s amazing how many pseudo healthy pages only talk about weight loss! I’d rather fill my feed with puppies thank you very much

    Like

  3. Love this article, you have a great perspective. I will join you! One thing I did awhile ago is I made a rule that whenever a pseudo health facebook page posted yet another dysfunctional post about dieting, cleanses or bikini bodies, I would unfollow! My fb feed is a much happier place and full of friends and puppies as it should be 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!! I LOVE your facebook rule — unfollowing is so easy and so therapeutic! Less pseudo health junk, more friends and puppies!! Thank you so much for your comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Vinnie says:

    I suffer from binge eating. I’m great all day and then night comes and I am up 1 to 3 times eating. Not grazing, eating full on meals. I hike and Zumba but I’m 300 + lbs. This is killing me. I’m headed twords weight loss surgery or death. I’m 40 and I am at the end of my rope.

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    1. Vinnie, I am so, so sorry to hear that you are going through this! First and foremost, I want you to know that you are not alone. Binge eating at night is extremely common. What we now refer to as binge eating actually used to be called “night eating syndrome” back in the 1950s when the disorder was first identified.

      One of the main risk factors for developing binge eating is food restriction, so if you are now or have ever been on a diet, it may very well have caused or played a role in what you are experiencing today. Without knowing your situation or any specifics, it sounds like your body is experiencing the physiological and psychological effects of hunger. It is possible that you may not be feeding your body as much as it needs to be fed — I know that sounds counterintuitive when you’re trying to lose weight, but undereating during the day just fuels binge eating at night. Our society sends the horrible message that people of certain weights SHOULD go to bed hungry, SHOULD starve themselves, SHOULD restrict their eating at all times. This is simply untrue. These are the same symptoms that would have a thin person diagnosed with anorexia, and it is reckless and harmful to promote these disordered behaviors strictly based on body type.

      The reality of “health” is a much bigger picture than the number on a scale. It involves myriad factors like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, resting heart rate, etc, and people of all sizes can be in good health and/or seek to improve those health factors in a way that is much more sustainable than pursuing extreme weight loss. It sounds like you are already living an active lifestyle, and that is a more important component to health than the size pants that you wear.

      Have you considered reaching out to a counselor to help you stop binge eating and discuss the possibility of weight-neutral health goals? If you can manage it financially, I think one-on-one, individualized support would be invaluable to help you work through your frustrations and concerns. It’s very, very important to look for a nutritionist who is specifically versed in Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size who will not make judgments based on your weight alone — otherwise, you could end up paying for yet another restrictive, unsustainable diet that will drive you deeper into binge eating.

      If you are interested, here are just a few registered dietitians whose perspectives I really admire. They are based around the US and offer virtual/Skype consultations:

      Aaron Flores, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist (RDN)
      http://www.bvmrd.com/work-with-aaron

      Glenys Oyston, RDN
      https://daretonotdiet.wordpress.com/work-with-me/

      Valery Kallen, RD
      http://www.valerykallen.com/work-together/

      Beth Rosen, RD
      http://goodnessgraciousliving.com/blog/work-with-me/

      I hope that this is the beginning of a new, happier chapter of your life — not the end of your rope. I am truly honored that you have taken the time to visit my blog, and I hope that by accepting your body and appetite without judgement or shame, binge eating will soon become a distant memory. I promise there is light at the end of this tunnel.

      Like

  5. Tammy says:

    Vinnie, I feel your pain. I hope it’s ok to suggest something too.

    I don’t know if you’re a reader but I stumbled upon the book “the foodist” by Darya Rose – her motto is how to get healthy and lose weight without dieting – great read. You can find her and her long battle with weight issues on her website, Summer Tomato.

    I have received much help and breakthrough but I still have some issues and am putting these things into practice, it’s a journey. I recently went to get further help, I had my first appt. a couple weeks back and today will be my second. But the shrink recommended a book “intuitive eating” by Evelyn Tribole, I picked it up from the library I’m only on page 16 but it’s making tons of sense and follows along with this website and beliefs.

    There is another book I stumbled upon – “50 ways to sooth yourself without food”

    I’ve had some other deep revelation this week (being a christian) but I’m hesitant to share since it’s supernatural.

    I speak life and breakthrough, we can have V I C T O R Y ! Keep on trying, keep getting up, you are not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These are great suggestions, thank you so much, Tammy! I am not personally familiar with The Foodist, but I can wholeheartedly 10000% vouch for the book Intuitive Eating (available on Amazon here). It healed my relationship with food and truly changed my life…my blog is a love letter to the brilliance of Intuitive Eating! I love it so much and I hope it helps you too.

      Thank you again, Tammy! And Vinnie, we are all in your corner rooting for you!

      Like

  6. Elle says:

    Your article is thought provoking. Just bought the book based on your suggestion.

    I have a question. Sometimes I do feel like venting about my body. And I question a friend’s love if they don’t want to be bothered. I think this self-bashing attitude drove a friend of mine away. To be honest I resented her, but her perspective was definitely understansable. But she couldn’t relate cause she fits the standards of beauty to the T.

    I have an eating disorder (orthorexia) and come from a home where looking perfect was mandatory. Do you suggest that I stop talking about how I feel about my eating and self-image issues altogether, and maybe just vent to a professional? I don’t want to burden my friends with my issues, but then if I can’t share my issues with a friend are they really friends? Where is the balance?

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    1. SUCH a good question. I’ve been thinking about this all day. What I hate about body conversations is that they so often end up perpetuating diet culture; think about the difference between “I wish I could lose 10 pounds” vs. “I wish I didn’t feel like I needed to lose 10 pounds in order to feel worthy.” Body discussions put me in an impossible position because I don’t want to chime in and talk about my body — that’s not how I work through things and it is bad for my psyche, even years into recovery — but I also feel uncomfortable speaking up against it in a group setting, especially with people like coworkers who I don’t know all that well.

      However, if YOU want to discuss your body and food challenges, you should be able to, because that’s how YOU work through things. But some situations will be more productive than others, so for your own sake, it’s worth being choosy about who you open up to. I’d be careful about broaching the subject with another person who has body/food issues that they’re actively trying to work through. As I’m sure you’ve felt first-hand, it can be really taxing and triggering to hear about other people’s issues when you’re working through your own. Not that you don’t care! You just only have so many emotional resources, and some days you’re at full capacity.

      On the other hand, if you’re talking to someone who doesn’t have any background with eating disorders/body dysmorphia/etc etc etc, I think sometimes people just don’t know what to say! When in doubt, I think it’s really helpful to just say out loud: “Please know that I’m just venting about the stuff that I’m working through right now. Don’t feel like you need to say anything or know how to fix it, but it means the world just to be heard.”

      Finding the right person to talk to isn’t always easy. There are some people who won’t understand why you don’t just “get over it.” And for someone like you who has felt the pressure of nebulous perfection since childhood, it can be very hard to understand what it’s like to NOT have that burden. I mean those people’s lives must be so perfect and easy, right? And how can you not resent that a little?

      There’s a big disconnect there, and that can drive a serious wedge between friends unless you both actively work at empathizing and understanding that what’s excruciatingly hard for one person can be frustratingly easy for someone else. You might want your friend to know that life for you has been really painful feeling like you never measure up. She might want you to know that hey, pretty people have problems too! I think what makes a good friend is someone who values your experience even if it’s totally different from theirs, and that has to come from both sides.

      I hope you do find someone who you can open up to, whether it’s a friend or relative or professional. The best listeners will hear you out without judgment while also gently reminding you to be kind to yourself (so instead of saying “UGH why are my thighs so xyz?!?” try reframing the thought to “Why do I feel so defined by my thighs?”) It’s great practice to make your dialogues AND your internal monologue more positive and recovery-oriented.

      I wish you all the luck in the world with this huge step you’re taking! Balance sounds so simple, but it can be so, so hard to find. ❤

      Like

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