I have a good friend who has a beautiful body but is constantly trying to lose a few pounds. She throws herself into cleanses, fasts, all kinds of very extreme things. Then she understandably goes crazy when she gets back to eating again, eats junk food and quickly regains whatever she lost. She said, "I either have to find some kind of balance, or I have to just learn to love myself." In this parlance, "loving herself" meant giving up on weight loss. From the way she said "love myself," she didn't sound very happy about the prospect."
I said, "You have to find some kind of balance and learn to love yourself."
I know, I should talk! At least, though, I have never been foolish enough to think I could stick to a cleanse or a fast. As I told her, "I find Weight Watchers too difficult, so how would I think I could do something like that?"
I bring this story up because I don't think this view of "self-love = giving up" is unusual.
Jen from Prior Fat Girl posted recently about some controversy generated by her efforts to lose a pesky 8 pounds that she had regained. Her commenters had asked why she was "obsessed" and "torturing herself" with the need to lose those last few pounds. I read the blog regularly, and I don't really see the obsession. Sure, Jen tracks her food and exercises, but she doesn't seem to be following a crazy, strict regime. She just as happily posts about fun treat meals out (pizza, burgers, etc.) as she does about eating homemade veggie-filled meals. Her exercise regime seems reasonable, not "torturous." I think the only thing that would be torture is the destruction of her house by the tornado and the subsequent remodeling.
Recently Glamour magazine stuck a very silly headline on an otherwise reasonable article about healthy weight loss. Originally, the headline was "Loving My Body Almost Killed Me," but later, it was changed to "Did Loving My Body Almost Kill Me?," probably in response to reader comments about how dumb the headline was.
The message from my friend, from Jen's commenters, and from Glamour is that "loving ourselves" is the same as giving up all thoughts about weight loss and hooking ourselves up to the hot-fudge-sundae IV and installing ourselves on the couch. Anyone who has ever watched "The Biggest Loser" knows that "giving up" and "loving ourselves" are two very different things.
Parents who love their kids don't keep them confined indoors and stuff Twinkies in their mouths. They take good care of their children and make sure they have healthy meals, the occasional treat, and plenty of playtime and rest. Why should loving ourselves be different from that?
I am still trying to find that place of loving myself enough to take great care of myself. It occurred to me that what I really need to do is to avoid the temptation to do something extreme and to keep my focus on a moderate, healthy lifestyle. I have to be patient to keep making the next good choice and enjoy the present while waiting for the weight loss to follow. True self-love can only help me in that process.