Many people liked my post on the Happiest, Healthiest, Easiest Weight Loss in the World. The idea is simple: restore proper hormone function by nourishing the body and eliminating food toxins. This type of weight loss is happy because there’s no psychological damage, and body image issues take a back seat when health is prioritized. It’s healthy, because it’s about nourishment first and foremost. And it’s easy because there are no hard-lined restrictive efforts.
I don’t believe that healthy weight loss is ever achieved in the typical brain-body warfare model. Instead, it is only ever achieved when a woman works in partnership with her body’s natural hormone system. If she is good to it, it will be good to her. Easy Peasy.*
Yet this kind of weight loss– this happy, healthy, easy weight loss– is actually for the modern woman enormously challenging. Here’s why:
It requires acceptance.
Perhaps I should have been more upfront about this in the first place. This may in fact be the easiest way to lose weight in the world,* but only if it is done with love, and with forgiveness, and with a refusal to adhere to body image norms. Three things with which women struggle fiercely.
This weight loss will never occur beyond a certain point. It moves a woman down towards a healthy weight, but then it stops, peacefully and joyfully thrumming along at that weight. This weight is not 17 percent body fat. I advise (delicately) anyone fantasizing about that to get over it as soon as possible. No one on this weight loss plan will end up healthfully looking like Cameron Diaz. If a woman were going to be one of those sticky types, she would have always been one of those sticky types. Nor will anyone necessarily be a rippling, chiseled woman. If anyone were going to look like Jilian Michaels, she would have also been birthed on the fiery precipice of hell.
Everyone wants to be thinner. (Almost). According to society, and even according to paleosphere standards, super thin and ripped is hot. Many women in the 20-25 percent body fat range are trying to lose weight with zero real health justification. Zero. What they are instead looking for is to meet the social standard. They may think that meeting this standard is going to make them healthier, or they may make excuses for or justify their weight loss efforts by pretending it will make them healthier, but the fact is that the weight loss endeavor is completely unjustified.
And, in many cases, downright harmful.
Which brings us back to why this kind of weight loss is hard:
In order to be healthy, we have to accept ourselves.
We have to prioritize our health. We may of course lose weight for health benefits, but not for any other reasons. This notion is an indomitable monster for many women (and men) in today’s world. It goes against years worth of programming, and it goes against social pressures and against personal perfectionism and against every desire so many women have ever had to be attractive and loved. Because we have to face it: our desires to be attractive are desires to be loved. So much of the battle we are fighting for holistic health in our brains and in our hearts occurs on this precipice, this edge of love. How can we be loved without being stereotypically beautiful? It sounds ridiculous, but it also is insidiously and powerfully in the subconsciousnesses of all of us.
My proposed method of weight loss is hard because it demands of us that we kick our needs for social validation under the bus. It demands that we take a stand for our natural bodies and our natural needs. It demands that we stand up, that we hug ourselves, and that we tear all of our Shape magazines and gym memberships to shreds. More than anything, it demands that we say “fuck off” to social norms, and that in doing so we ignite in us the power and confidence to accept the love everyone in our lives is showering on us even when we ourselves are uncertain of what we are doing. We need to love ourselves, and to accept love, and to stand with our natural bodies, and to be unapologetic and refusing, and to lead by empowered example after empowered example.
It is not easy to lose weight. Physically, as a woman, fat is valuable, and the body fights to hang onto it tooth and nail. But it is easiest if done with (that albeit hard-won) acceptance and with love and with care. It is healthy if done with acceptance and with love and with care. And it is happy if done with acceptance and with love and with care. Restriction may work in the short term, but it is not healthy in all of these ways, and it may end up backfiring in the long-term. The only way to healthfully lose weight is to do so in loving, proud partnership.
This kind of weight loss–the healthy kind of weight loss–takes not the strength of a physical endeavor, nor the strength of restrictive willpower, but instead the Herculean strength of indomitable spirit, pride, and love.
*Though of course not. Hormones are far more complicated. It’s a bare-boned fact that fat is an endocrine hormone and women’s endocrine systems can be disrupted by changing the volume of fat cells in her body. It is also a fact that many women’s metabolism’s have been damaged by modern foods and toxins. And it is a fact that women’s body have been damaged by diets and exercise. No, it’s not always puppy dogs and candy canes, the land of women’s weight loss, but it can be done, and hormones really can be readjusted to help a woman reach a healthy and fit place with time, care, and love.
**Or not. Ever have a tapeworm?