It’s not even Christmas yet, but already the ‘new year, new you’ messages are blaring everywhere we turn. ‘Have you overindulged this Christmas?’ ‘Feeling the bulge this January??’ There’s even a ‘drop a dress size’ weight loss board positioned strategically next to the festive food and drink offers outside my local shop.
WEIGHT LOSS. The beast of burden that tells us we’re not good enough, that our size and shape dictates our worth. That we must be skinny, skinnier and skinnier still – especially after daring to enjoy ourselves at Christmas.
Well before you get bogged down in all those adverts, magazine articles and TV specials, I’m here to remind you that we need to stop normalising these kinds of dialogues. We need to stop attaching guilt and shame to our body size and stop perpetuating the idea that yo-yo dieting is OK. It’s unhealthy, both physically and mentally, and can be extremely dangerous.
Bus that’s not to say that I don’t agree with working on yourself! It’s all about finding better ways to do it. Here are my ideas for how you can re-frame those traditional weight loss messages this Christmas and have a healthier new year.
Improve body confidence
Look at your reasons for wanting to lose weight. Is it because you’re morbidly obese?! Probably not. It’s most likely that you’re a casualty of social conditioning – photoshopped, filtered, whippet-like bodies flood our mainstream media with the message that this is perfection. It is not. Perfection doesn’t exist. Perfection is subjective. Perfection is not a measurable unit.
Instead of chasing an illusion, start learning how to retrain your brain and to love the beautiful body you have. As I mentioned in my post about feel-good insta accounts, people like Body Posi Panda are fabulous at inspiring women to be more confident and powerful in themselves and their bodies. So really work on exposing yourself to those kinds of positive influences.
Develop some body positive personal affirmations for yourself that you can say every morning as you can get dressed – and the more you say them, the more you’ll start to believe in them.
Be brave and push yourself out of your body comfort zone: a big thing that helped me was learning not to automatically swathe myself in 3 massive bath towels when I got changed at the pool or gym.
And don’t forget to give compliments to your friends – not on looking thin, but on looking fabulous, confident, on rocking that outfit whatever their size.
Make healthier choices
Don’t make it about counting calories or fasting – instead, it’s much more beneficial to think about how to make healthier choices. You can find lots of ideas on how to eat more healthily in my previous post.
But making healthier choices isn’t just about food. It might be turning down that Saturday night at the club in favour of an evening of self-care and pampering. It might be going to bed early instead staying up to watch just one more episode of your favourite boxset. Or it might be agreeing to try a yoga class with your friend, even though you feel very un-zen…
The point is, that being mindful with your general lifestyle choices will have a much more positive and long-lasting effect on your mental and physical wellbeing, and you’ll probably notice a pound or two off the scales too without having made that your priority.
Exercise for fun
If you’re like me, this sounds like sheer craziness. Exercise… for FUN?! But just thrashing a load of spin classes like a crazed Bridget Jones or attempting to become an overnight pro sprinter isn’t going to help you feel better or healthier in the long run. You might lose a few pounds up front, but it’s not sustainable – before you know it, your running shoes will be relegated to the back of your wardrobe, those few pounds will be right back on and your mental health will have taken a real battering.
Finding an exercise you enjoy, and doing it because it makes you feel good, is the key to making a real change and developing a lifestyle that will stick around post Jan 31st.
Dress for the shape you have, not the one you want
Who else has ever felt rubbish about themselves, but then put on their favourite outfit and all of a sudden felt transformed? I know I have. What you wear can make a huge difference to your state of mind and confidence.
But what to wear, and specifically clothes shopping, can be a minefield when you’re in a weight loss mindset. Trying on something that looks great on an insta influencer, but somehow you look like a sausage in it. Or how about that old thought ‘I’ll buy that when I’ve lost 5lbs…’ So you end up in your old comfy clothes and feeling 10 times worse about yourself, calling yourself fat when in reality you’re doing yourself a massive disservice.
This whole clothes catastrophe can be avoided by taking pride in how you look now – knowing your shape, owning it, knowing how to show it off, treating it to something special right now, not when you’ve dropped a dressed size.
If you’ve read my story of surviving mental illness at uni, you’ll know that when I was a student myself I was in the midst of an eating disorder. So I won’t lie and say that re-framing how you see weight loss is easy – it’s been a real challenge for me. That’s why I really hope you take my tips on board and avoid some of the pitfalls that got me! Let me know your thoughts below.