In this article, a woman-centred psychotherapist discusses the need to lose some extra weight, or learning to accept the ‘skin you’re in’.
Balanced Weight Loss by Esther Kane
Normally, I try to avoid talking about weight loss, being an eating disorders therapist- it can be a touchy subject indeed. But lately, I’ve come to realize that there is what I believe to be, a balanced approach to losing a bit of extra weight if you really need to for health reasons. How did I come to this realization, you ask? Personal experience of course!
Turning 39 recently has brought with it much appreciated wisdom, calmness, material comfort, and settling comfortably into myself- all of which I prayed and longed for in my teens and twenties and for which I am forever grateful. However, the not-so-easy-to-deal-with aspects have included graying hair, wrinkling skin, downward pointing breasts, and alas, weight gain. All of these have come as a major shock as somehow, I guess I had thought I would be immune to all of the side effects of ageing. But no, Mother Nature would have me learn otherwise. And while I am working really hard at growing older without plastic surgery, botox, or other toxic attempts to extend my youthful appearance, the weight gain has been a real doozy.
As it turns out, our metabolism slows down increasingly as we age and thus, our ability to burn off excess fat. I have never been obese and even at my heaviest, would be considered ‘average’ for a woman of my age, shape, and height, but the extra padding was getting in the way of my twisty-turny poses in my three times a week hot yoga class and my clothes weren’t looking as flattering as they used to.
Being an ardent anti-dieter and having had a history of a severe eating disorder in the past, I decided there was no way in hell I was going to starve myself through a rigid food deprivation regimen. Instead, over the past few months, I’ve really worked on the emotional side of things- coming to terms with the fact that I am, indeed, ageing- and that my body will naturally change it’s shape and size over the rest of my life. This is a hard pill to swallow in our shallow thin-is-in society, but a reality to which we must all succumb to someday and which is totally natural and acceptable. Overall, I’ve made a lot more peace with this fact and have come to accept (for the most part) that I have traded a young, lean body for the wise, calm, and successful woman whom I have become which is something to be really proud of and grateful for.
Add to that, keeping up with daily moderate exercise- I love and do Bikram’s hot yoga three times a week religiously- more for the stress-busting and inner peace and calm it gives me than for the calories burned. And I’ve tweaked my already healthy diet a bit more in order to boost my metabolism and achieve overall good health. I am aware that the goal is not to be skinny (my body isn’t made to be skinny no matter how hard I may try), but instead, to try and stay at my set-point weight, where I look and feel my best. This set-point changes over the course of our lives as our bodies change so make sure it’s realistic for your current age and body type.
It’s taken me about four months to lose the excess weight I had put on, and I now fit into my clothes the way I did before I gained that extra weight and it feels really good. Slow and steady like the good ‘ol turtle does the trick. And there has been no obsessing, calorie-counting, or beating myself up along the way. I really feel now that the fact that I truly love myself and mostly accept who I am and the body I have now have made a huge difference. Perhaps there is an easier, softer, and gentler way after all…
Esther Kane, MSW, Registered Clinical Counsellor, is the author of the book and audio program, “It’s Not About the Food: A Woman’s Guide To Making Peace with Food and Our Bodies” (www.endyoureatingdisorder.com) and “Dump That Chump”(www.dumpthatchump.com), and “What Your Mama Can’t or Won’t Teach You”(www.guidebooktowomanhood.com). Sign up for her free monthly e-zine, Women’s Community Counsellor, to uplift and inspire women at: http://www.estherkane.com .