The point of dieting is to get smaller.
It’s to take up less space.
It’s to make it easier for people to like you because there’s less of you to have to like.
Because somehow, you’re only worthy if there’s less of you.
When you diet, you say you’re “doing it for me,” as if this aspiration to shrink came directly from our your head, as if you came up with the idea.
As if the admiration from friends, family, and strangers on the street were just a surprise, secondary benefit.
I’d like to argue, however, that dieting, weight loss, and weight suppression weren’t your idea. I’d like to argue that you’re doing it for someone else, even if you think it’s for you. Even if no one ever directly suggested it or asked that you do it, you’re doing it for someone else.
And it’s making your life small.
When you’re working hard to make your body shrink away, you’re letting your world contract until you are only surrounded by calories, macros, workouts, and pants sizes.
When you give into the pressure to talk about your body size and your diet at the gym, in the kitchen at work, with your significant others and your best friends, you’re keeping your friendships and relationships small, safe, as uninteresting and un-expansive as talking about the weather.
When you “go Paleo” and “go Vegan” and only talk to people in those communities because those are the only people who “get you,” you’re keeping your life small. When you define your ability to date by someone else’s fitness regimen (I only date other Crossfitters!) or by how their lives affect your fitness regimen (I can’t miss my 10 mile run tomorrow, sorry), you’re keeping your life small. When you declare yourself a fitness junkie and a health nut but don’t realize that it’s actually an addiction that’s keeping you from enjoying even the simplest pleasures that once made you feel whole, you’re keeping your life small.
Why are we so obsessed with living small?
I heard someone the other day talking shit about a girl they knew. The girl is young, probably about college age, but she’s fat.
She’s too loud, was the complaint. Too…much.
Her fat was just the physical manifestation of her much-ness, and her much-ness was too much to handle. Improper for a young lady. And so fat! It’s not right. We should be quiet, contained, disciplined. Only fit girls are disciplined. When they’re loud, they’re not too loud. Their much-ness is desirable, because it doesn’t appear to overstep anyone’s boundaries.
I hear the 1950’s calling, and they want their mindset back.
I’m not saying you have to get fat to stop living a small life. But I think we all have to stop fearing the possibility of taking up space.
I read blogs from HLBs* who talk about how “big” they’ve gotten in recovery—now they’re a size small. And I read/hear the fear in their words. It’s a nervous boast—I’m big, but not too big. I can stop any time I want to. I have discipline. My big is only muscles, and they don’t take up much space. Here’s a before and after pic to prove it. I’m desirable. I’m desirable. I’m desirable.
I am small.
See? I’m still writing about organic food. I’m still reblogging overnight oats recipes. I can stay small. I’m still worthy.
This is why health podcasts reach hundreds of thousands of listeners every time they publish an episode: do this, and we’ll keep you small.
This is why health blogs get shared and pinned millions of times: do this, and we’ll keep you small.
This is why we quit our desk jobs and become personal trainers and nutritionists and yoga teachers: do this, and we’ll keep you small.
Why are we so afraid of what happens when you live a bigger life? Why are we so afraid of what an errant carb might do to our thighs? Why are we so afraid of missing a single post or podcast in case they mention the miracle cure for bigness while we’re away? Why are we so afraid of truly getting bigger—in all aspects of our lives?
It’s the fear of being too much, of being undesirable, of not saying the right thing, of not having the healthy identity of being too big and being left behind. It’s the fear of possibility. It’s the fear of moving forward. It’s the fear of living your life.
Getting bigger—physically, yes, but also mentally and emotionally—was the most important thing that ever happened in my life. When I let go of my fear of what would happen and let my muchness be, I discovered the person who I really was. The person I spent all of my life afraid of being.
And when it happened, when I started to expand myself, my horizons, my interests, my relationships and friendships…I discovered that I was not only still worthy, but I was worthy…to me. And the people who didn’t think I was worth anything when I wasn’t small are no longer people whom I care to have in my life. So it doesn’t matter what they think.
I’m never going to have a million fans repinning my recipes and raving about my 10 mile run in the comments section. I’m never going to be a Crossfit champion or a bestselling cookbook author. I’m never going to be the woman that the others hate/adore behind her back in the office kitchen (how does she do it…the skinny bitch!). People are never going to come up to me in the locker room at the gym and ask me what I’m eating or how I’m working out.
And I don’t care. Because my life is more than articles about gluten and Sundays spent bulk cooking alone in the kitchen.
If that’s what it takes to be everyone else’s small, I’ll take my own big any day.
In today’s podcast with Sarah Vance, we talk about life after being a bikini competitor and why our codependent relationships with the scale are keeping us small. (PS You need to go check out Sarah’s work and her instagram. She’s one of my new favorite people ever, and I think she’ll be yours too!)
*Healthy Living Bloggers