If you’re like most women (and some men), I’m sure you’ve stood on the scales or in front of a mirror and felt deflated. The scales give us a sense of accomplishment, but can also crush us. You’ve dieted, you’ve exercised, and you’re still not changing your shape. You tell yourself you’re not tall enough, not thin enough, not fit enough, not good enough.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Can we not change our body type? Must we live our lives constantly berating ourselves about our image and pursuing the potentially impossible? Or do each of us really have a natural weight that we can’t fight and need to accept?
There are certainly different theories on the subject, but many studies show that each of us does in fact have a natural approximate weight where our bodies are comfortable. You’ll hear those in the nutrition industry call this a ‘set point’. The set point is the weight range in which your body is programmed to function, optimally; and the “Set Point Theory” holds that one’s body will fight to maintain that weight range. So if you lose weight, it will be difficult to lose too much from the set point…the same goes if you want to gain weight. If this is the case, then each of us is limited in how much we can change our bodies without extreme, and potentially unhealthy, behaviour. It seems it really isn’t just about the eating and exercise roller coaster, but also our genetics that play a part in determining our body size.
So what does this mean for those of us who want change? Does this mean you can never be thin? Does it mean that you can eat whatever you want and never gain weight? Can we ever really love the body we’ve been given?
Firstly, it means we should consider weight as we do height. Just as we have the genetic background to be short, average, or tall; we can also be predisposed to being thin, average or large; so instead of counting calories, yo-yo dieting, and overdoing it on the treadmill just to lose a few pounds and reach a certain weight, choose to fill your life with activities that increase your sense of self-worth and efficacy as well as keeping you fit and healthy.
Secondly, we need to shift our perspective. This can clearly be difficult considering we’re living in a culture that is preoccupied with weight and collectively values thin women; but we need to learn to accept ourselves and others for who they are and what they stand for instead of the notion that thin people are smarter, happier, and have more fulfilling lives.
Lastly, embrace your body. Be kind to your body; Stop beating yourself up for being ‘weak-willed’ or ‘lazy’ as reasons you can’t lose weight. Accept your body type, your potential set point/natural weight, who you are, and what you contribute instead of worrying about a number on a scale. Relax into what you can do to support your body to keeping it healthy and it will fall at the weight it wants to be.
“You can’t hate, criticize, and berate your body enough to create lasting change. It just doesn’t work. You can, however, be mindful, loving, and gentle with yourself and your body; with where you are now in your journey. And be courageous enough not to hide or be ashamed of how you look.” – Unknown
If you’d like to hear a different perspective on body image and culture, consider joining us for a private screening of the documentary, “Embrace.” The film is about one woman’s journey to redefine and rewrite the ideals of beauty. She spends nine weeks travelling the world finding out why women find it so hard to accept their bodies, why they strive to be like the magazine images, and how we all can love our bodies just as they are.
When: Tuesday, 25th April
Where: ODEON Broadway Plaza
220 Ladywood Middleway, Birmingham, West Midlands
Space is limited, and seats must be reserved before Friday 14th April.
Reserve your seats, now, here: https://tickets.demand.film/event/1620
We’ll look forward to seeing you there!