We’re at the time of year when the diet and fitness industries will be trying to get your money. They will lie to you about how they can change your life. They will encourage you to feel unattractive and inadequate. They are poison.
New years of course prompt us to reflect on what’s happened and think about how we want to move forward. This is good, but for most of us, some kind of radical re-creation of self really isn’t necessary. You’re fine as you are. You may want to make some lifestyle changes to be happier in yourself, and that’s great, but those are the only terms on which to change.
My weight has varied a fair bit over my lifetime. One of the things I’ve discovered is that the people who were ashamed of me and critical of me when I was at my fattest do not praise me or love me now I am thinner. I have not won them over. Apparently it was never about my body size, it was just an easy thing to hurt me with.
My fitness levels have varied a fair bit too – mostly that’s to do with how other health issues are impacting on me. Sometimes there is too much pain and weariness for physical activity to be any kind of pleasure. I am most at ease with myself when I am stronger and more able – and frustrated by my body limitations. I have found that the best thing to do is focus on wellness and enjoyment, and not on any kind of arbitrary fitness goals. Bodily activity is something to relish and find joy in, not something to punish yourself with to try and meet some imposed standard of appearance.
As my body and its capabilities have varied over time, it’s become obvious to me that these are not the most important things. My relationships are not transformed by my body shape. My confidence and self esteem aren’t that much affected by how thin or fat I am – but they are affected by how other people treat me. The key thing is avoiding people who go in for body shaming. If I spend time with people who like me for who I am and who are not obsessed with how I look, then my life is happier and richer. I prefer the company of people who are kind and affirming, who support and encourage me. All of the good things that the diet and fitness industries claim come from diet and fitness industries, mostly come from people being nice to each other.
And while we’re being nice to each other, and being supportive and affirming we can look for the things that make us well and give us joy. We can eat the food that nourishes us, supports our mental health and gives us the energy to move our bodies in happy ways. We can move happily, for the joy of it. If you’re in need of a ‘new you’ look for opportunities to be happier, not ways to punish yourself for already feeling ground down.