You Don't Need to Lose Weight During Your Self-Quarantine

No, You Don’t Need To Lose Weight During Your Self-Quarantine

April 13, 2020 Updated April 17, 2020

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Lindsay Wolf/Instagram

I was minding my own business and innocently scrolling through Facebook when I saw it. Someone had posted a photo of a sumo wrestler and the words “OMG I’ve gained like 400 pounds in 4 days.” I shook my head at the image and words, shrugged, and moved on. I was hoping that this would be the only fatphobic meme I’d see online that day. I was wrong.

To my total surprise and frustration, more and more posts began pouring into my social media feed, as people joked about not being able to fit into their pants in a month, bragging about binge-eating too much cheese, or obsessively taking on the “10 Push Up” challenge like their life depended on it. For a moment, I forgot all about the global pandemic currently wreaking havoc on our world. Because right there on my computer screen, there was a collective crisis I couldn’t look away from. People seem to be scared shitless of the possibility that they will – gasp! – gain weight during their self-quarantine, and they don’t know how the hell to deal with it.

As I continued scrolling, I thought about the millions of human beings in different sized bodies who struggle daily with eating disorders. I thought about all of the people out there like me who didn’t get fat due to overeating. I thought about all of the chronically ill and disabled people who don’t have the luxury of leaving their house. And I thought about all of the poverty-stricken parents out there who don’t have time to worry about weight gain, because their biggest problem right now is finding the money to buy food for their kids and pay their bills.

So why would anyone prioritize weight loss supplements or calorie counting at a time when there is a life-altering virus spreading rapidly among us? Don’t we have more important things to worry about than our pant size? Apparently, we don’t. And I think I know why. We are understandably feeling helpless about current events that are out of our individual control, so something as seemingly innocuous as the number on a scale may feel like one of the only things many of us have the power to change at the moment. But that doesn’t mean we need to be doing it.

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“Stop trying to fix your body. It was never broken.” — Eve Ensler // I wonder what kind of a world we would be able to enjoy if women weren’t constantly shamed into believing our bodies are problems. As so many of us hunker down in self-quarantine, I want to remind you – your physical home is meant to change. YOU are here to evolve & grow. It is absolutely okay if the size of your jeans look different than they did a month ago. It’s absolutely awesome if you’ve experienced physical changes from entering motherhood (like I have!). It is totally fine if you have stretch marks from a life well lived, scars from challenging times you’ve bravely survived, and cellulite that’s as lovable as the kind on any baby’s bottom. Now more than ever, we have a chance to slow down, decide what really matters, and take care of ourselves as much as we can. There is already enough out there to feel worried about. We do not need to add battling against our own body to that list. Ignore the fatphobic memes, pass on by the diet culture jargon, and let the 10-push up challenge exist for you only if it brings you true JOY. Eat foods that comfort & nourish you. Move in ways that celebrate what you can do. Watch a bunch of TV, laugh on FaceTime with a friend, snuggle up with your favorite blanket, feel all your feels, & take all the warm bubble baths. If you are on the front lines of this #coronavirus pandemic, please focus on whatever is most significant right now – including your own basic needs (and know that I am so inspired by & grateful for your existence). And please always remember that strength & wisdom & success & beauty comes in all sizes, shapes, conditions, and identities. 🌈 I’m here for you during this extraordinary time. I see you for the incredible human being that you are. You are so very loved here. 🌸 (top is XXL & from the maternity section of @target 🥰) #selfquarantine #shameresilience #youareworthy

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Back when I was a young adult struggling with severely restrictive eating, a diet pill addiction, and body dysmorphia, I wouldn’t have batted an eye at the fat jokes that pour over Thanksgiving festivities like gravy or the magazine covers that start pressuring us in February to create our best “summer bod.” I was neck-deep in self-hate at the time, and like so many of us, I didn’t see the danger in these shame-inducing messages and felt motivated to keep losing weight whenever I saw them. I also couldn’t comprehend that for many people who weren’t in a thin body like me, life didn’t necessarily come with immediate acceptance, respect, or even a basic sense of equality. Fatphobia is alive and well, and I’ve learned this the hard way after healing my eating disorder and naturally gaining a bunch of weight in motherhood.

We all know how easy it is to identify blatant discrimination when someone cracks a sexist one-liner at the Christmas party or spits out a racist slur in an argument. It is much harder to notice and call out fatphobic comments. But they are everywhere, and all they do is contribute to a culture that demonizes some of us for looking different. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of people being harshly and incorrectly judged based on their appearances.

When I started on my body-acceptance journey a few years ago, I was prepared to face some backlash for loving my fat body without needing to change it. But I wasn’t prepared for just how far people would go to tell a larger person that they are assuredly going to die from their physical condition. And now that people are actually dying from a real-life pandemic, I think I need to turn up the volume on my big ass mic before I drop it.

In case no one has offered it to you yet, here is your immediate permission to stop hustling for your worth through weight loss. You don’t need to fall in line with the diet culture masses if it comes at the cost of your mental health. So what if your favorite jeans don’t fit after this self-quarantine? Buy a new fucking pair, shake your bigger ass, and take up all the space you want. If you feel like moving your body at this time, go for it. Just know that you don’t have to do it for the sole purpose of losing weight. Take off the damn fitness tracker if it’s bumming you out, catch up on some Netflix, get fresh air when you can, and eat whatever nourishes and comforts you right now. And if you are struggling with an eating disorder that has flared up during this lockdown, please be extra gentle with yourself.

I’ve researched enough about this topic to know what to say to anyone who thinks that gaining weight during COVID-19 is a threat worse than the actual virus. And now I offer it to you. I encourage you to share this if someone is tearing you down or pressuring you to obsess over your body right now. And since society has done one hell of a job on our collective self-esteem, it’s totally understandable if that person is you.

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Saaaaaame woman. Different angles. 🎉 For so damn long, I only placed value & worth & admiration on an image like the one on the left. But after three years of leaning into self-love, healing my relationship with my body, and breaking up with diet culture, I have now found beauty in unexpected places, see my physical frame as totally amazing, and cultivate love for it every single day. If you see the woman on the left and immediately think she’s somehow better than the image on the right for having projected the societally ideal image of thinness, know that fatphobia is alive & well in your mind – and that it is NOT your fault. Diet culture has done one hell of a job misguiding us. You CAN retrain your brain. You CAN investigate the self-hate. You CAN find the inner worth you’ve always possessed. It just takes practice. Learn to value the woman on the right & your entire life can change for the better. (Top: @target XXL // Bottoms: @walmart 3X) 🦋 #effyourbeautystandards #shameresilience #fuckdietculture #traumarecovery

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Basically, for every study out there trying to prove that being fat is synonymous with a shorter lifespan or a lack of physical well-being, there are plenty of counter studies saying just the opposite. For instance, both thin and fat people with high blood pressure have the same fucking chances of experiencing a heart attack or stroke, and unhealthy thin people are twice as likely to develop diabetes than a healthy fat person. Also, up to 75% of those deemed “medically obese” are, in fact, metabolically healthy, and BMI has been proven to be a completely inaccurate measure of someone’s overall health.

But don’t tell the insurance companies you’ve found any of this shit out. They’re hoping we never will, so they can keep charging larger folks with higher premiums. Not to mention the “wellness” companies, diet supplement businesses, and weight loss programs that are financially preying off of our bodily insecurities – ones that they helped to create.

The annoying fucking truth is, our society is obsessed with an impossible body ideal that most cannot achieve or maintain. And there is no goddamn reason for anyone to be chasing this stupid illusion if they don’t have the ability or desire to lose weight. What’s more, it is not only a societal privilege to live in a skinny body, but our cultural idolization of it is has become a mental health epidemic far more critical than the health industry’s fake war on obesity. The National Eating Disorders Association has it all laid out on their website. They’ve discovered that our overzealous glorification of thinness is the most well-known reason millions of people develop eating disorders in their lifetime. Yet many of us are still drinking the diet culture Kool-Aid, and it seems that we’re doing it now more than ever before.

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There’s about a decade between these two pictures. The young woman on the left thought she was significantly larger than she actually appears in the photograph. She was worried about taking up too much space, eating more than she should, and doing anything that might jeopardize her thinness. She lived in a mental prison, and she was so lonely there. The photo on the right is of a woman who has fully recovered from an eating disorder and body dysmorphia, and has freed herself from ever being addicted to diet pills again. She has learned the true purpose in living a full life and realizes now that it has nothing to do with weight loss. She leans into photos with ease, doesn’t mind the extra space she takes up, and wants to help heal the world. Both women are so deeply loved. But the gal on the right knows it in her bones. She owns it. She acts from that place. And it never steers her wrong. 🦋 #edrecovery #CPTSD #traumarecovery #innerworth

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We need to stop the madness, people. We have enough going on right now. We don’t need to make more unnecessary problems for ourselves by piling on impossible expectations about our bodies. While we’re all stuck in these statewide lockdowns (and even after that), could we please stop forcing ourselves and each other to prioritize weight loss at any cost? Could we perhaps stop joking about binging on food when there are tons of people stuck inside of their homes who grapple daily with an eating disorder? And maybe, just maybe, could we all leave a little room to allow for the weight fluctuations that are as natural as any other part of being human?

Because here’s the truth: Your worth has been inside of you since day one. It cannot be found by doing the keto diet. It cannot be earned through hours of exercise. And it is not diminished because you spent all day on a couch in your dirty-ass sweats. There is nothing you need to do in order to enjoy feeling worthy other than to let go of society’s vise grip on you. So please – stay home, wash your goddamn hands, and give yourself a fucking break.