I’m a quitter.
I always have been. Pretty much every extracurricular activity I’ve ever started I’ve quit.
Normally, quitting is seen as a bad thing. Well, especially if it’s something that’s seen as good for you. I’ve decided I’m quitting weight loss clubs. This might be viewed by some as quitting something good for you. But I wholeheartedly disagree. Don’t worry, I’m planning on telling you why. And also talking a bit about my relationship with food and dieting and what made me get to this decision.
Before we go all the way back to my teenage years, let me fill you in on the point I decided once and for all that weight loss groups are ultimately a load of s**te. During a moment of weakness in February, I joined Weight Watchers. Focusing on, as I’ve always done, the number on the scales I was feeling a bit bummed out after some Christmas weight gain. Week in week out I was disappointed with the results. Nothing much was changing with the number.
But I’d been making changes. My new job and free gym membership meant more exercise. I was eating better. I was convinced the weight would at some point catch up and drop off. The tipping point came a few weeks ago. The woman in front of me getting weighed had a good week. She lost more than the week before. When asked what she had done differently her answer was exercise less. To which the class leader told her that just goes to prove you don’t have to exercise to get results!
I couldn’t believe my ears!
I was livid. This woman was being told to focus on her results on the scales rather than being encouraged to be fit and healthy! Oh, and getting charged about £6 a week for the privilege! When I got home I emailed and cancelled my membership.
I’ve had body issues for most of my life. During my early teenage years, this was unjustified. But as I got closer to 20 my weight just kept creeping up. I spent most of my 20s very overweight. I’ve actually been going to weight loss clubs on and off for almost half of my life. I joined Slimming World and finally lost the weight (over 2 stone), the fear of gaining the weight back has definitely kept me obsessed with the scales.
As much as I’m slating these groups, I don’t deny they serve a purpose. And can do you good. If you have a lot of weight to lose they can be a great starting point. But they are not an effective long-term way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle (body and mind). They can help people overhaul their diet. But I learned nothing about nutrition at any of the groups I went to. And once you’ve lost the weight the only focus is on keeping that number on the scales the same. There is no focus on body fat percentage, or how many inches you’ve lost.
Once I lost the weight I needed to get rid of and started exercising in a different way my weight changed. I was seen as a failure. I was asked what I was going to do to get my weight back down. Your success or failure at these things is purely based on how much weight you take off and keep off. How demoralising is that?! I never got any praise for the fact that I knocked about four minutes off my 5k time, or that my strength was improving and I could leg press more than my body weight. No well done for the fact that even though the scales have changed I can still fit my ass into my size 10 jeans.
When I say I’m quitting weight loss groups I’m not saying I’m stopping caring and will eat everything in sight. What I’m saying is I don’t want to spend my life on a diet. Friday night pizza shouldn’t make me feel guilty!
I need to redress my relationship with food. And I need to start looking at my body and not focus on the bits I hate. I need to stop hating bits of my body! When I have kids in the future I don’t want them to see me constantly on a diet. I don’t want to give them the same body issues I have.
Being obsessed with how our bodies look, rather than what they’re capable of is bad for our mental wellbeing. And diet clubs enable this unhealthy way of thinking.
I would love to know your thoughts on the subject and find out about your experiences of weight loss and body positivity.