Since I wrote a few days ago about my interest in taking a new look at the old setpoint theory in relation to my own body image journey, I’ve had a few conversations going on in the background.
One person wrote to give me some facts on weight loss over the long term in case I didn’t already know them, and ask me to not perpetuate the myth that there is a trick to losing weight, and to please resist the seduction of the myth of easy weight loss. I was pretty stunned at that response to be honest, because I didn’t think that was what I’d said, and I was pretty sure that wasn’t my motivation.
But in responding to that person’s concerns, and others, I’ve done some really deep thinking to articulate the evolving shift in my awareness, so I thought I’d spell it out in more detail – sorry for the long post – so you can decide if you still want to get my news and blog updates, or if you want to kick me goodbye 🙂 I’m happy with either choice to be honest, because while I really care about and value the opinions and support of my nearly 4000 followers, if this isn’t the right place for you, then it isn’t, and I wish you all the best on your journey.
I know my followers are women who have been walking towards the edge of the mainstream for years, and have spotted me over here a bit further out on the edge where it’s not only okay to love your body just the way it is today, but also to honour and nurture it, learn about it what really wants and needs, listen to it, and support it while it returns to end-of-dieting balance and health on all levels. It takes a while.
As I said to Andrea in one of these ongoing email conversations, I have realised over the past few months that my love-your-body-anyway message isn’t reaching as far as I would hope. I’ve been very focussed on this work for five years now, and while I know with all the certainty that’s possible in this world that I have helped hundreds of women, possibly nudging into the thousands, to take a new look at their body and give themselves some compassion, that all my time and energy and passion for the love-your-body-anyway message is like whispering into a hurricane.
That hurricane is the now $60 billion PLUS weight loss industry – in the US alone. While there are probably thousands of body image activists now, and more all the time, even combined we are still only a quiet dissenting voice in the hurricane. Yes it’s growing louder and it’s got a long way to go.
So what I’ve realised is that if we are to achived the cultural mind shift we need so that our daughters do not grow up hating their bodies, restricting their food, purging their food, chewing and then spitting their food, choosing to go under the knife to add or subtract from their bodies, and other abmormal behaviours, because they see and feel their own value is their ‘hotness’ above everything else, and become less than they dreamed they might be before their bodies became their focus, and they end up as a sad medicated statistic…. then we need to speak differently to the mainstream of our population. (Yes this stuff gets me really steamed up, I want to stop the pain!)
I can already hear some people saying “Oh so you want to trick people, just like the rest of the weight loss industry”.
I want to speak to people where they are, and then offer them the possibility of stepping onto a different path, one which ultimately leads to them loving their bodies.
What we’re saying right now is “diets don’t work, accept that, and just love your body anyway”. In other words we are telling people they’re wrong, and not surprisingly they don’t like being told they’re wrong. So they walk back to what’s familiar.
We are the fourth generation of dieters, our daughters the fifth, our grandchildren the sixth. That’s a LOT of cultural ‘knowing’ that thin=healthy and eat less + move more = lose weight. Test it yourself, try having a conversation with someone who is a dieter about loving their body anyway. My experience is that mostly they cannot understand it, with the best will in the world it just doesn’t make sense to them because it challenges too many assumptions.
The answer is education.
So, in just the same way we learned to read by learning the letters of the alphabet and then put them together to make words, I think the only way to reach into that diet-addicted mainstream culture is to reach in with an understandable message, and support them while they learn a new language, way of thinking, and behaving towards their amazing bodies regardless of size or shape.
And to me, setpoint is a way to reach them. Because many of the people who find themselves here are not struggling with losing weight, but with increasing it. Or looking for an answer to absolutely loathing their breasts, their lips, or some other body part that causes them unbelievable anguish. Weight is a part of body image, but it’s neither the largest (pardon :)) nor the only part.
But it’s the part that setpoint deals with, and it’s the part that serial dieters understand from their own experience. And I have a theory that it’s also a part that needs to be healed from all the years of calorie restriction. Healed – so it can find the balance it was meant to have – not tricked.
So, that’s what my setpoint experiment is about, it’s the final step in my own healing journey, and as a healer, it feels true, it feels right for me and my body. It’s an experiment to see what happens.
It’s also a major challenge to me as a positive body image advocate, to be flexible, to step along a bit from my end of the the diet -vs- antidiet spectrum and reach out to people who are closer to the middle than they are to my end.
It doesn’t mean I suddenly think that we all have to lose weight lest we be damned to ill health and an early grave, or be a particular size, spend hours in the gym, only eat low fat or low carb or whatever. Those lies are still lies.
It does still mean that I support the right of women to treat their bodies any way they want to, and encourage them to choose compassion and great self care and real nutrition and loving kindness towards themselves and other women, and let go of cruel judgements and unnatural behaviour.
And I’m sorry if you’re disappointed in me, I am completely at peace with that.
What do you think? Does any of this make sense to anyone other than me? Please comment and let me know….