I so hear you.
And your fears are so entirely validated here.
You want to leave behind dieting [representative of any attempt to shrink your body], and yet you fear that your body will change. You fear that you will gain weight.
This is the number one fear represented by folks I work with. So if you feel this way, you're not alone.
And let's take a look first at how the world you and I live in reinforces this norm. Because it's likely that if you're fearing weight gain, that fear didn't come about in one day or without influence. Considerable influence known as diet culture. Seeing where you sit, where your beliefs originate from and what fuels them can be immensely profound. Especially when you start to see how intertwined these influences are in our lives.
YOU'VE BEEN TAUGHT TO MISTRUST YOUR BODY
This is first for a reason. Mistrust is at the core of our collective fear of weight gain. Because we don't inherently feel that our bodies "know." And that includes knowing and maintaining our own healthy natural weight level for us. It also includes knowing what our bodies need to eat and when, when to stop eating, when to sleep and rest, when to move, when to seek support. This is innate to us all and the world of diet culture works superbly well at disconnecting us from that body trust. Through exposure to diet culture, we've taken it upon ourselves to micro-manage processes that are second nature and intrinsic to us as human beings - weight stability being one of them.
YOU BOND OVER DIET TALK AND POOR BODY IMAGE
Sometimes I wonder how long folks can go without this conversation coming up. Seriously, take notice in your own life. And that's less of a judgement and more of an observation as someone who works to support women overcome poor body image and disordered eating. Women especially tend to bond over the new method of body shrinking that they're embarking on, sharing notes and secrets. Women also tend to relay openly their disdain for their own bodies amongst friends. The focus on these topics is sharp and ever-present. It may even seem bizarre to imagine them no longer occurring.
LARGER BODIES ARE SHAMED
Completely unacceptable and yet, true. Diet culture holds up the thin, white ideal of beauty for women and that means that other bodies are stigmatised and shamed. This diet culture-informed perspective is a societal standard in much of the world and therefore is how we come to think of, and judge bodies. And yet body diversity is not only normal though has been around as long as humans have. We're not made the same, we never have been. The current beauty standards are imagined and created. They're not factual or correct. And yet it makes complete sense that we don't tend to question what's always been. All bodies are beautiful, capable and worthy.
WEIGHT LOSS IS EVERYWHERE
Literally everywhere you go. At health professional's offices, at gyms, in magazines, movies, ads, the news and in conversations with friends. Weight loss is almost an undercurrent of how we interact with the world. It's heralded as a high achievement and criticised widely when not 'successful.' Weight loss often goes hand in hand with lifetime milestones such as weddings and is the focal point of many health campaigns. This has become a norm over and above the hefty research that doesn't support it 'working' for most people. That is, most of us can't sustain intentional weight loss in the long-term . And yet weight loss is always a topic of conversation, wherever we may go.
In it, I dive more into the specifics of weight science (how our bodies stabilise their own weight), why health and weight are not linked as we think and share what the alternative to shrinking yourself is.