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The New Year's Resolution That's Better Than 'Lose Weight'

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A lot of people are making resolutions for the new year. One of the most popular ones every year is to lose weight. If you’re doing it for your health, cool! But if you’re only doing it because you dislike your body, here’s why I believe it’s not a good idea.

Three years ago, my body would have never been called “perfect.” I was on the heavy end of what society would consider the normal weight range for my height. But I was healthy. I enjoyed eating well and worked out often just because it made me feel good. I felt full of life and energy. I may have had some extra weight on my bones, but I was in the best shape of my life. I had been honored with my second-degree black belt and was working hard toward my third.

After working hard for so many years to get in the shape I was and to maintain my fitness, I was happy. No, my body wasn’t my idea of “perfect” and I can tell you straight up that I didn’t love it all the time, but I liked it. I liked what it could do. I liked that it had the strength to help me through the most grueling workouts. I liked that I could feed it healthy food most of the time and enjoy some treats here and there. I liked that I had the confidence to wear a bikini during the summer months regardless of my weight. I liked it, but I didn’t always love it.

Kathleen's photo caption: "Me in my prime, the day I received my 2nd degree black belt."
Kathleen’s photo caption: “Me in my prime, the day I received my 2nd degree black belt.”

When I got sick, my body changed rapidly. I was dropping weight like mad. Forty-five pounds later, I found myself in a body I didn’t recognize. The weight loss wasn’t my choice. The choice had been taken completely out of my hands. Gastroparesis is a monster disease that doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone. Not-so-luckily, I ended up with it.

At my lowest weight, according to society’s views of our bodies, I should have been happy. Without knowing the reason why I reached such a low weight, some people innocently complimented me on my newfound figure, wishing they could lose weight like me. Just like the models you see walking down the runway, my hip and collar bones jutted out, my stomach was flat and my legs were rail thin with my thighs nowhere near touching. But I wasn’t happy.

I’ve had people tell me jokingly that they wish they could have gastroparesis for a short period of time so they could lose some weight. But it didn’t just steal away pounds from me. I ended up severely dehydrated and with malnutrition. My hair was falling out it in clumps. It took away my ability to enjoy food like I used to. It stole all my strength, leaving me dependent on a wheelchair for months. It took away my ability to go to university. It left me with no energy to do the things I enjoyed the most.

I may have had what some considered the “ideal” body, but I hated it.

Honestly, I didn’t love my body all the time when I was healthy, either. Sometimes it came naturally and sometimes it felt like I was fighting an uphill battle. But despite what some people like to think, weight loss didn’t fix that. It can’t. We’re constantly being told that thin is beautiful, but healthy is what’s beautiful. Society’s ideal body, for me, wasn’t healthy.

So I’m on a weight gain mission. Seeing the number going up on the scale isn’t always easy, but I’m thankful for what that increase means. It means more freedom physically as I improve my strength and build muscle. It means protection for my body. It means I’m getting the nutrition I need. It means even if the monster called gastroparesis is still in my life, my body is at a much healthier weight.

Kathleen's photo caption: "Working towards a healthier weight!"
Kathleen’s photo caption: “Working towards a healthier weight!”

So, what I’m trying to say is that if you don’t love your body now, don’t be convinced that weight loss will make that happen because it’s not a magical cure for a bad body image. Loving yourself is something you need to work on doing at any weight you find yourself.

Even if you can’t appreciate what you see in the mirror, reflect on the amazing things your body does for you every day. It lets you wake up every day ready for new experiences. It lets you learn and live and improve. It lets you enjoy time with family and friends. It lets you grow as a person. It keeps your heart breathing and your lungs expanding. It keeps you alive.

It’s so easy to take all the little things our bodies do for us for granted when we’re all so focused on what our body looks like, but all these little things can be taken away suddenly and without warning. Appreciate them.

Follow this journey on Green Eggs and Spoons.

Originally published: January 5, 2016
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