Losing Weight or Losing Myself?

I don’t know what came over me. After several years of being staunchly anti-diet-culture and unapologetically body positive, shortly after donating my last pair of pre-baby-size pants, I had one bad night and signed up for a free trial of a weight loss program. I’ve been having an identity crisis ever since.

Some background: aside from typical 80s/90s toxic diet culture baggage, my weight was never an “issue” when I was younger. That is, I existed at a body weight that was considered “healthy” by traditional medical establishment standards. After I had my second baby, the weight didn’t come off the way it magically did the first time. Maybe it was the stress of motherhood or the antidepressants I started or just nothing in particular, but I was a larger person than before. As I tried different methods to “get my body back,” my weight bounced around like a ping pong ball for a couple of years. When I brought up my weight to a new primary care doctor, she handed me nutrition pamphlets and showed me my BMI on a chart, explaining to me like a 3-year-old that I should be trying to get out of the yellow and into the green. I am a Taurus and can be extremely stubborn, and I decided around that time that I was done with dieting, end of discussion. Nobody is going to tell me what to do or what to weigh.

Now here I am, walking around being a fraud. “I’ve lost twelve pounds,” I have sheepishly confessed on a couple of occasions when my weight loss has come up at work or with friends. Without fail, the response is something along the lines of, “That’s fantastic!” or “I’m so proud of you!” Often times I find that hitting a new low on the scale puts me in a great mood all day. And I have felt that sense of pride. I made a commitment that I have stuck to for almost three months, through holidays, birthdays, and social events. On top of that, I do feel physically better, my clothes fit better, and I like how I look.

Still, the compliments I’ve received don’t really feel like compliments. What I hear is, “Congratulations on being a diet culture sheep!” and “One more thing for your daughters to talk about in therapy later!” I have spent the last seven years educating myself on diet culture, convincing myself that 30-pounds-heavier-me is worthy and beautiful – and even stronger and wiser in many ways. Though this belief hasn’t changed, part of me feels like I’m abandoning my principles.

The truth is that I have wildly swung from one end of the pendulum to the other. There is a lot of gray area between “I only care about being thin” and “I only care about accepting myself at a higher weight.” And though these may seem like opposing ideas, I can love myself as I am AND want to make some changes (thank you, former therapist and many hours of DBT training).

At the end of the day, I am still my same Taurus self. Nobody is going to tell me what to do or weigh or THINK except for me. I am taking this weight loss thing one day at a time with the attitude that I’ll just see what happens and how I feel. I am less focused this time on a number or a clothing size and more set on just plain feeling good. That means feeling comfortable, feeling proud, feeling unburdened. And most importantly, feeling like myself – stubbornness and all.

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