The goal post always moves forward. Few of us are strangers to this. You get what you want, but then it’s no longer enough. Or in the cases that you don’t get what you want, anything else achieved doesn’t seem like enough. A new relationship is great, but you’re still not as skinny as you want to be. Losing a few kilos is awesome, but you still don’t have those Instagram-ready abs. There is no end to it, and so you keep trudging on the treadmill of life with only the carrot of thinness to guide you.
But are you really living your life if you only focus your gaze on weight loss? You might not even realise that it is. You have career ambitions, a family and more, but unless you manage to be happy in the body that you have, you’re still spending your life chasing weight loss. You remain so focused on this dream body that you neglect to cherish the one you were given.
A life spent chasing weight loss is not a life lived, and here’s why.
You will never get your dream body because you’ll want another as soon as you get this goal. It’s a common occurrence in ambitions and goals, usually in a good way in that we keep believing that we can get more. But in terms of weight loss, it’s a negative trait, as we remain dissatisfied with the body we present to the world. You want to weigh five kilos less, but can you really say that this would be enough to make you comfortable in your frame? That if you weighed five or ten kilos less, you would love your form?
It’s unlikely, as your dissatisfaction will simply follow you. There is no perfect body because each is so unique and dependent on taste. You may be skinnier, but will you want abs? Will you want larger breasts or muscles? Will you want smoother skin? If we look at ourselves as products to be perfected, we’ll never find that perfection. As you could consider Kim Kardashian perfect for her curves, but Kate Moss for her slim figure. There is no perfection, and there are many perfections, that is the simple truth of it.
You’re spending your energy and emotions on something that you know you will never reach. You’re chasing after something that can’t be pursued. This isn’t to say that you can’t lose weight, merely that you can’t find happiness in your body through only weight loss. That when you look at weight, rather than health, there is no end goal in sight.
Think back of a time when you were smaller or skinnier than you are now; it shouldn’t be too difficult given the great lockdown fifteen! Were you happy with your body then? If so, that’s great to hear, and I’m glad you experienced that. But it’s rare, as even if you were happier than you are now, you most likely still had things that you would change.
When I was about seventeen, I was thin, way too thin. At the height of my eating disorder, I was following a strict regimen of daily exercise, calorie deficiency, and purging when ‘necessary’. But I was miserable in that tiny frame, and when I looked in the mirror, I saw this fat, ugly creature. I wasn’t comfortable in my body, despite how little it had withered away to be. I had those abs, the tight calves, the toned arms. I had it all, and yet I wanted more. I wanted a thigh gap, and I wanted bigger breasts, and I wanted a smaller waist.
I look at those photos now with sadness and concern. I wouldn’t want to be so painfully thin again, but what scares me more is that I wasn’t confident in the small body when I had. Now, in the largest frame I’ve been in, I still lack the confidence. But I feel so much happier in this body than I ever did in that one.
It doesn’t have to be as extreme as an eating disorder, but were you really happier at a time that you were thinner? Or did you need even more? When you look back to that body, you probably think “I wish I had enjoyed it more. I wish I had shown it off. I wish I had been grateful for it.”
That time may come for the body that you’re in now, so do yourself a favour and be grateful for the body you have now. Enjoy it like you wish your younger self would have.
Another reason that you’ll never find a size you’re happy with is because you’re not the only one moving the goal post. If we quickly look back to a century of body sizes, every decade featured a different ‘perfect’ body, a different set of dimensions to strive for.
From flat chests to busty ones, from small bottoms to toned ones to as big as you can make them. From athletic builds to malnourished frames, society has always offered a forceful opinion on how we should present ourselves. Fat is okay if it’s on your bottom or bust, but nowhere else. The ideal body can’t be achieved naturally, and that is enough to tell you that it shouldn’t be idolised. By the time you sculpt yourself into what they want, they will have moved far from that aged perception of beauty.
But you’re losing weight for yourself? You should do what makes you happy and healthy, but still allow yourself to love and appreciate your body in all the stages along the way. And recognise that it is challenging to differentiate between what we want, and what society expects of us. It takes some tough love and reflection to realise all the things that we’ve been taught to want and expect. What do we get from a flat stomach, other than the approval of people who don’t really matter to us?
When you decide that you need these things, you’re essentially feeding into the societal expectations. If you can’t have flab on your stomach, you’re saying other women can’t either. I recognise that this is not your intention and that you probably want everyone to do what is best for them. But despite this, the rules you hold yourself to as harshly reflect how they will be held on others.
It’s so much easier to love fat women around us, rather than the one in the mirror. I’ll see chunky girls in crop tops and short skirts, and be dazzled by them. I will genuinely consider them to be stunning and drool over their confidence. But then I’ll bully and belittle myself, telling myself I’m too fat to wear something, or that I am the issue. Why do we refuse to offer ourselves the kindness that we so freely grant to others?
Spending life with your eyes on a distant goal is not a life lived, as you miss so much beauty along the way. You miss the chance to be grateful for your body and to thank it for all it does for you. It carries you day after day, it takes you on each run or workout, and it nurtures and protects you from illness or intrusion. It provides you pleasure, and signals danger through pain. So why do you insist on hating it?
If you spend your life focused on weight loss and unhappy with your body, you miss out on so much. I know it isn’t easy to love your body, not nearly as easy as it should be, but it is worth it. It is so worthwhile to start fighting these thoughts and preconceptions and start working on loving our gorgeous bodies. It will be a daily effort, but it will provide you with more joy than you ever imagined.
Love your body, because if someone else can, why the hell can’t you? And if no one else does, then let you be the first to pave the way. A body loved is the most beautiful body there is.
Find out how to run for health not weight, or all the times you deserve to eat even if it feels like you don't!
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
Would you like to receive my top monthly articles right to your inbox?
For any comments/questions/enquiries, please get in touch at:
I'd love to hear from you!