I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (and looking at myself in the mirror) since I’ve been on this TRA programme thing. See, I’ve always been a chubby girl – pleasantly plump, as one friend described me – and battling the bulge has been a lifetime challenge for me. I’ve just never been the kind of girl that people would describe as slim and it has been a sore point of agony my entire life, a complete and total obsession.
So just diet and exercise, lah, I hear you say.
Well yes, but see, I also LOVE food and as much as it makes sense to go on a diet and just be really strict about what I keep shoving down my mouth, I really just LOVE food. So there’s this eternal battle between wanting to eat unlimited copious amounts of doughnuts and wanting to have Anna Kournikova’s body. I’m sure I’m not alone in this eternal fatty conundrum.
But I’ve also been doing a lot of reading of writings on body image, challenging beauty stereotypes, accepting different body shapes and identities, body confidence and that kind of thing. And I find myself, slowly, surely and happily letting go of that all-consuming, obsessive need to lose weight.
Instead (and TRA helps with this), I’ve decided to focus on being healthy and getting fit instead. The rest will follow: body confidence, feeling physically and emotionally good about the body, acceptance of different body shapes (i.e. it’s really okay if I don’t have a body that looks like Anna Kournikova’s). And, as a bonus, I might also lose a little weight and drop a few inches around the waistline.
Sounds like common sense really. It’s very obvious stuff. But you’d be surprised how often health is the last thing on our minds when we’re trying to just lose kilos: crash diets, new fangled detoxes, that whole deprivate-binge-starvation-binge cycle we love to get ourselves into.
If we focused on just being healthy and balanced instead, it becomes much easier. Then we won’t be so inclined to deprive ourselves of yummy things, nor stuff ourselves sick on it. We won’t feel awful every time we step on the scale and see that we haven’t lost 0.1 kilo since this morning. We won’t agonise so much about wanting to look like Kate Moss nor beat ourselves up when the buttons start to feel a bit snug.
With the TRA thing, I’m focusing more on getting my fat percentage and visceral fats down (because that’s what causes bad health and illness in the long-term), and increasing my muscle percentage so my body burns and works more efficient. I’m focusing not on stopping myself from eating or cutting out cupcakes, but focusing on eating the right amounts of the right foods. And heck, cupcakes, as far as I’m concerned, can also be a ‘right food’ if eaten in healthy-enough, moderate doses.
I’ve learn that it’s not so much about how much you’re eating, but what you’re eating. I’ve found that by eating good foods (home-cooked too), I’m getting to eat much bigger, more satisfying portions than I usually would when I was just eating rubbish on the go. And I’m feeling physically good about it – not that icky, sick feeling you get when you’ve just gorged on a packet of crisps, thinking that’ll do for lunch!
I’ve figured that if I sort out my health, my body will adjust itself to be where it needs to be at its optimal best, whether that means I stay the size I am or drop 3 dress sizes. If I’m healthy and happy on the inside, then what does it really matter what’s going on on the outside – if people aren’t happy with the way I look or think I’m still “fat”, then I’ll just have to tell them to go eat some cake and find a better way to feel better about themselves other than picking on someone’s fat quotient.
Also, it helps to think of really healthy looking, balanced and body-happy (not necessarily super skinny) people and take inspiration from them – people like Pink, Beyonce, Anne Hathaway, Lena Dunham, Tyra Banks spring to mind, to name only a few. Remember too that being thin doesn’t necessarily guarantee good health or a long life. (and no, this is NOT a bashing session of thin people either!). My dad’s side of the family are all Skinny Minnies. They just can’t put on weight. But they’re also filled with a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, cancer heart attacks – okay, just about every bad thing in the book. My mum’s side of the family are all large as mountains, they love their snacks, they eat honey in tablespoons straight from the jar. And… they have no health problems. No diabetes, no heart problems, no cancer, no cholesterol, nothing. Just really long, healthy, jolly lives filled with cake.
Now I’m not advocating eating honey straight from a jar or gorging on cake; I’m also not saying that thin people have it wrong or that it’s wrong to be thin (goodness knows thin people have issues with body-confidence, health and all the rest of it too!). I am saying that it’s important to refocus on health instead of mere weight, for weight is only a small part of health, whether you think you’re too fat or too thin. Enjoy the process of eating delicious things, getting proper rest, exercising and learning just to feel physically good. How much we underestimate that wonderfulness of just feeling physically good – everything else falls into place if we can only just achieve that.
It’s not hard. Your body tells you what it likes so just listen to it I myself have been out of whack for a long time and I’d quite forgotten how nice it is just to feel physically good, as I do now. It was only when I started listening to my body and what felt okay or not okay that I realised just how much has been wrong with it for ages. Now that I’m paying more attention to health than just my dress size, I’m really learning what feels right and more importantly, learning how to enjoy feeling right.
One last thing: I’ve also found it useful, reassuring and confidence-building to get regular health check-ups (just a normal blood test at your local GP once a year or so). If things are in order and there aren’t any real alarming factors in your results, then celebrate. Feel really truly pleased and grateful to be alive, and to have all your faculties and health in tact.
Then go eat some cake (or a jar of honey, or a peanut-butter kit-kat, or whatever it is that makes you rumbly in your tumbly).