I have to admit something…
….even though I am big believer in BODY POSITIVITY, I haven’t been very positive to my body…
Being an entrepreneur is hard…especially when you are one who likes to keep busy and never stop working, but within the entrepreneur life it is easy to lose track of oneself…and this is what happened to me. You see, having a business is like having a baby in that it requires constant love, passion, and dedication. You never fully sleep because you are always thinking about it, you never fully eat because you are busy moving from one thing to the next, your brain never shuts off, and you lost track of what it means to be a human…and to be honest, I wouldn’t change this for the world…if my health would just be okay with that. As I get older it’s harder to maintain this delicious body of mine and the stress I put it under makes it difficult too. I don’t eat healthy (or sometimes at all), I don’t exercise (aside from pushing furniture around my studio), and I sit A LOT (like I am now, writing this blog post.) and while I acknowledge this is part of being an entrepreneur, I also know it can change if I want it to. Maybe my definition of success should start to include me having a healthy blood sugar and not having to take naps in the afternoon…
So I started to think about why I was “afraid” to eat healthy and exercise and finally I realized it: I HAD BEEN DAMAGED BY DIET CULTURE.
Every time I would start an exercise class or start to eat clean, my brain would go on autopilot and immediately thoughts of “I wonder how much weight I will lose” or “Calories in vs. calories out/measureable outcomes” began to consume me, so I would shut down….I would shut down because I had been here before, when I was mentally unhealthy at my lowest weight. I realized I needed to change the outcome attached to the activity (whether eating or working out) and while it sounds easy enough to do, it really isn’t. It’s easy to say “just focus on movement for movement sake” but in the back of my head, there is still that stupid fucking voice telling me “but maybe you will lose weight…” like it’s the only thing keeping me going to the class or activity…and I hate every part of that. Diet culture has ingrained so much self-loathing and punishment into every “exercise” activity, that we are trained to look for measurable outcomes like weight or inch loss or else what is the point? When these aren’t achieved we feel like fucking failures and then hate ourselves even more and I DO NOT want to go back there. Ever. In fact, the other day I went for a walk and forgot my pedometer and felt like a piece of shit because I couldn’t measure my “success”…whether or not I had it with me I still walked the same distance, but I didn’t have evidence…so did I really??? So I had to have a talk with myself about how silly I was being and be a wee bit compassionate towards myself that I am a work in progress. The mind fuck that is diet culture needs to take advice from the first 3 letters of it’s name and just DIE.
Here’s what you need to know about me, however….if I could eat right for me, move for the sake of movement and I was still fat, I would be FINE with that. I truly do not detest my body shape or size…I have overcome that, but now I have to shift my thinking from diet culture to thinking of my body as a biological machine that has needs for me to have energy, sleep right, and live the life that I want in all capacities. I don’t want to worry about heart attacks, strokes, and blindness because of my poor eating habits and lack of movement….because I already have enough to worry about with my business.
So, I attended The Body Image Conference in Toronto put on by the National Eating Disorder Institute of Canada. Originally I had signed up to learn more to help my boudoir and Body Image Bootcamp clients, but by the second day I realized that I was learning more about myself and what shifts need to happen. One of the workshops I took was about Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and I was impressed by with the adjustment of a single word it changed the way I felt. For example, I normally would say: “I love my body, BUT I need to eat right and exercise.” The BUT in that sentence then negates the fact that I love my body….however, if we make this small adjustment: “I love my body, AND I need to eat right and exercise” It totally changes the feel to the sentence, saying that both things are true. I DO love my body AND I DO need to eat right and exercise. It is small shifts like this, that I know will slowly change my feels. Just like changing my mindset from hating my body to loving and accepting it, I have to do that with fueling it. The biggest impact of that conference, however, was meeting with Dr. Linda Bacon, creator of the HAES (Health At Every Size) principles which essentially helped me to understand that all bodies require different sustenance to work at peak performance (Did you know that some brains require more fat, so as a result your body may need to keep more fat on it??) She describes these principles as a new “Peace Movement” towards working towards a HEALTHY life, not necessarily a thinner one. I bought her book “Body Respect” and am taking it all in. I love the science-y stuff, but also the compassion that comes through.
Unfortunately, nowadays, the diet industry has clamped on hard to the body positivity movement to use it for it’s own gain and if you have picked up the latest Weight Watchers magazine, you will see what I mean. They spout words like body positive, empowerment, and self love….while also telling you to count your calories, check your BMI (which is complete bullshit), and limit your foods and showing “miraculous transformations” of sad befores and happyily ever afters. So bopo-culture is becoming extremely watered down and making it more difficult to determine what is right for you…which is why I have a hard time falling back into an actual healthy routine…I am afraid I will become obsessed like I was once before. I never realized the toll that my previous 100lbs weightloss would have on my mental capacity. It’s like I did everything (worked out 6 hrs/day & ate the same thing every day) or nothing (binge watch Netflix & eat grilled cheese and take out at every opportunity), so I am in the process of finding that balance now….and I will: Just like the self love, body love also takes time and mindfulness to rewire the brain.
Why am I sharing this journey with you? Because I want you to know that body positivity has to include more than just lovely photos of babely tummies on the internet…it has to include eating right BECAUSE you love your body and want it to work the best it can, regardless if this means weight loss or not. It has to incorporate PRO-HEALTH fitness regimes that focus on making your body be efficient, instead of just “How much weight do you want to lose?” “What is your size goal?” etc. These wellness places have to be inclusive of all body types, shapes, sizes, and capabilities and not give them all the same goal of weightloss. Body positivity has to mean more than just the shape and size of bodies and it has to include gender, color, and how you experience the world. Another interesting tidbit I took away from the conference was learning that “not all bodies are good bodies” because if someone is transgender, I am certain they feel that the body they were born into isn’t a good body…BUT, what I did learn is that “all bodies are VALUABLE bodies”. So regardless of where someone is in their journey to self love, they have to recognize that their body is valuable because it allows them to experience the world in all it’s capacity. Without a body you wouldn’t be able to read this, without a body you wouldn’t be able to tell your story, without a body you wouldn’t be able to hug and kiss your babies, etc. MY body is valuable, YOUR body is valuable and now it’s time for me to treat this body like the priceless organism that it is.
(All of these beautiful photos are courtesy of the amazing Denise Birdsong of Modern Love Photography taken in San Francisco)