March is Women’s Awareness Month so let’s just try and celebrate all the incredible women out there doing amazing things every day regardless of their dress size. I doubt Marie Curie would have been a better scientist if she’d just managed to drop a few pounds and personally I would rather that my daughter to aspired to make a positive change in the world than made it her life’s work to be a size 8.
There has always been way more pressure on women to be a certain size but we can choose to try and rise up and focus on the stuff in life that actually matters instead. All those toxic pressures that make women feel rubbish for supposedly not being the right weight are just another form of discrimination in an already unequal world. They hold us back and knock our confidence when we are worth so much more than what we weigh.
It genuinely depresses me that there are so many amazing women out there wasting so much of their time worrying about their weight and going on diets. I know that there will be women out there who will think, “It’s ok for you, you don’t need to diet. So don’t judge me for wanting to lose weight.” Yes I’m pretty slim, but those of you who read my previous blog will know that I have had my own personal battles with the scales, I mean what woman hasn’t?
In my experience a woman’s actual size and weight are rarely indicative of whether or not they feel compelled to diet. When I was at my skinniest I was also my most miserable. There are lots of women in the so called health and fitness industry who look absolutely incredible in their heavily edited and filtered social media posts who are actually hiding eating disorders behind a veneer of “healthy living.”
I personally know more women than I care to mention who have been on and off diets for as long as I have known them. And guess what, none of those diets have worked in the long term. Sure they might lose weight to begin with, but then what? Unless you are prepared to restrict what you eat forever and miss out on living your life to the full, the weight will always go back on.
I’m not talking about women who genuinely need to lose weight for health reasons and have been advised to do so by their doctors here. I’m talking about perfectly normal, lovely women who are fixated on dropping a dress size or two as if reaching that goal would be like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
Women who manage to defy the ageing process and still look hot beyond their 40s get the kind of fawning media coverage you might reasonably expect from women who, I dunno, have actually changed the course of history. How many people have heard about Alyssa Carson, the youngest female astronaut at the tender age of 19? But how many of us know J-Lo is still rocking a unitard at 51? Is she a household name because of her amazing contribution to music? No, she earns column inches with her punishing regime that means she has a body most women could barely aspire to when they were in their teens.
I know lots of people are concerned about weight gain over lockdown. Everyone’s weight fluctuates for a variety of reasons and that’s especially the case for women whose hormonal cycle can make a huge difference to the fit of their jeans. If we allow our happiness to be dictated by that number on the bathroom scales we can never experience true self acceptance. Even if you do reach your target weight do you really think that will make you happier in the long term? The chances are you will just move on to the next aspect of your appearance that you think needs to be fixed.
If you have put on weight and it’s really getting you down, by all means make changes to your diet, just don’t go on a diet. There’s a huge difference. Keto, Atkins, intermittent fasting, all these diets are just fads which claim to offer a solution to people’s unhappiness by demonising certain foods or way of eating. In fact it’s kind of ironic that the diet industry has grown so bloated and rich by feeding off people’s misery. There’s a lot of self styled experts out there who are essentially trying to sell you the equivalent of fool’s gold. There’s no magic diet that will fix all your problems. The only way to stay fit and healthy is to eat sensibly and be active as part of your ongoing lifestyle, that’s it. You can dress it up how you like but that’s what it boils down to. Of course that takes a certain amount of discipline so it might feel easier to just give your money to someone who will tell you to pretty much do that but just present it as some sort of miracle cure.
I’ve always said that Yoga is a way of life for me. It affects every choice I make, from how I move my body to what I put in it. I eat to nourish myself, to give me the energy I need for my job and to enable me to enjoy life. I don’t follow a diet, I just eat well. Sometimes I have cake, sometimes pizza ( all gluten free), sometimes both on the same day, shock horror. And I honestly think it’s because I don’t deprive myself of the foods I enjoy that I don’t binge or over do it when I do. I can eat a couple of squares of chocolate and that will be enough for me or sometimes I might really push the boat out and have three squares if I’m feeling really naughty! I’m jesting of course, I just eat the amount I fancy.
I definitely eat much more mindfully now than when I was a journalist and I have discovered that when eating well becomes a natural part of your every day life you really don’t crave the stuff that is low in nutritional value very much. I enjoy feeling well so I have no desire to put stuff in my body that will make me feel crap. Am I completely body confident? I’m still working on it. While I have muscle definition in my arms, legs and back, that six pack has remained elusive. Maybe if I followed a super strict diet I could get a wash board tummy, but I honestly don’t believe that it would be worth the effort. My tummy only comes out about once a year on holiday anyway so I can live with it in its current state. I’m certainly much happier when I look in the mirror now than I used to be when I was 20 years younger and hadn’t had children yet.
Think of all the fun you could have if you stopped worrying about your weight and the label in your clothes. There’s so many other things that deserve more of your attention. Does anyone honestly look back on their life when they are older and wish that they had just managed to fit into that smaller pair of jeans? Chances are you’ll look back on old pictures and realise that you were actually gorgeous just the way you were and wish you'd had that slice of cake after all. Don’t wait until then, start feeling gorgeous as you are, right now and have that biscuit/cake/packet of crisps if you fancy it. Life is too short to do anything else.