Weight A Minute?!
Why its time to stop jumping on weight loss challenges
Our Network just finished a “Biggest Loser” challenge and I failed miserably!
by Tana Valeni I 25 October 2020
However, with every failure there’s always a lesson, right? When I reflected on why I came LAST in the challenge; the answer usually came back to motivation, “your why” as every great PT will tell you. Wait ‘LAST’ did I say??? Yeah ok, pretty much last haha.
Body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. Obsession over your appearance and repetitive negative self-talk can lead to major emotional and psychological problems for a person.
You should do this challenge, don’t you want to lose weight …..… Yes .. No … I don’t know???
You need to do something about your weight you’re getting fat ……………… Ok
Don’t eat that it’s not healthy ……………………. maybe
You’re being selfish …………………………… ok
Oh put your shirt back on ……………Eww
No actual person, has ever said any of these words to me; ok maybe the put your shirt back on haha. What I realised on reflection, was that these discouragements were all in my own mind, an internal fight so to speak; deepened by years of media, society and culture telling me what I should look like. Is this why we continue to put our bodies and minds through 8 week cycles of torture focusing and spending time worrying about our weight?
Growing up I was thin until I was about 8 years old. I remember spending a Christmas in Samoa and when we returned I overheard a conversation between my Mum and a lady from church. The lady said to my Mum:
“O ai lea … oi, o Tana!? Kalofae, ua lapoa aea” this translates to
“Who is this … oh it’s Tana!? Nauuwww poor thing, he’s gotten fat aye” ..…. followed by her laughing hysterically as if she had just told a funny joke …. not realising then that I was the punchline! This is the earliest memory I have of being body shamed.
Movies have long defined the fat kid. You can go back to the Goonies where adorable Chunk is the funny friend always playing pranks, a bit clumsy and uncoordinated, always eating but being able to make friends with the strangest of people.
Society has long associated fat as being synonymous with being lazy, ugly, untidy. Runway models are skinny so that we use less material.…ok?
We celebrated Greek hero’s who won in the arena, we celebrate our fighting champions who win battles and now we celebrate people who work hard in a gym who ‘look’ like the champions we adore?
Instead of addressing the ideologies we’ve created over many millennia, the message of ‘hope’ we and society have chosen to reinforce is telling ourselves we can CHANGE! The hope isn’t that you are beautiful just the way you are, the hope is you can be changed, you can be better?! Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe, and studies have clearly shown that there are clear links to exercise having a positive effect on both physical and mental health. What is not addressed is the negative, unhealthy state of mind which some of us get into of constantly seeing our bodies as not good … enough.
The question that has become more dominant in my own mind now is; when is “good”, good enough when it comes to our bodies? This is a very individual question, but it is one that we need to take more time to explore, it’s one we need to be asking more often than the ‘why’ around being better.
As someone who has yoyo dieted, trained many ways, gone from eating all sorts of certain super foods to eating nothing at all for days on end, I know what it’s like to constantly be looking at myself and seeing how I can be better. I have also seen many people who have gone on long journeys of improvement and no doubt life is a constant journey of being better than you were yesterday.
I came from a point in my life where I was unhappy at 123kgs and dropping down to 86kgs, gave me a noticeable change in the way I carried myself, literally because I felt lighter, I looked like I fit in. But as much as my body changed dramatically, what didn’t change was my image of myself. If anything, it increased my anxiety around going back to the bad state I came from.
I’ve gone back up in weight again but what I’m starting to research now is what is my body capable of, where does my body hurt, where does it feel strong. I’m starting a journey to start loving my body and I’m starting to listen to my body as opposed to what society or media tells me how I should look.
I’m not a gladiator, I’m not a UFC fighter, my body is not going to get ripped like them and I’m ok with that. So, the next time you’re invited to join an 8 week challenge, just ‘weight a minute’, think about what you’re actually challenging. Maybe it’s time we took 8 weeks to focus on loving our bodies for the amazing vessels they were created to be.