“Triggered” is how I feel when I scroll through social media and I’m faced with countless before and after photos of people whose lives seem to become fulfilled, joyful and complete after shedding a bunch of weight. Whether it’s on television, the latest diet fad or influencers, the underlying message is always the same: lose weight and find happiness.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not meant to discredit anyone’s hard work, personal health, fitness or spiritual journey.
As the holiday season approaches, I want to remind everyone that you do not have to lose weight before enjoying Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, New Years, etc. You can enjoy all these special days guilt-free, just as you are. Diet Culture turns up its poisonous mind games and shameful antics this time of year and if you are like me, it can sometimes be difficult to manage.
Life Is Not Measured by Before and After Photos
I snapped this “after” photo (on right) a couple of weeks ago and was reminded of how much my body has changed as a result of many factors. Every year as my birthday approaches, I find myself reflecting on the past year or two and try to focus on the positive changes that have happened, even if from the most difficult times.
The “before” photo (on left), was taken right before my 30th birthday, nearly two years ago. I felt like I was in the best shape of my life and was certainly at the lowest weight I can remember in my adult life. The truth is, I knew very little about actual fitness or the relationship I had with food (and how it affected my body and mind). I was often working out twice a day, eating fewer than 1,200 calories most days and I was taking laxatives almost daily. So while I felt “happy,” the reality of what I was doing for my body was potentially very harmful.
The last two years of my life have been full of ups and downs and my body has changed as a result of that. Examples include: becoming a parent overnight to my 9-year-old nephew, getting fired, becoming a social media influencer (crazy!), financial struggles (who can relate?), new jobs, new partnerships, new opportunities, new blessings! Even reading these examples makes me want to grab hold of these extra pounds and say THANK YOU!
Your Best Self; Not Your Best Weight
My goal is not to discourage you from losing weight or changing your body if that is what you want to do. My goal is to simply remind you that you don’t have to in order to feel worthy. Your body image can be positive and strong NOW. Let’s start seeing before and after photos of people finding their confidence, finding their purpose, finding their dream job or celebrating a victory that has nothing to do with weight loss.
My before and after is a woman educated on what fuels my body, what manages my lymphedema and what makes my mind happy. I have things that I could do better, sure, but it’s a journey, a forever work in progress and I’m here for the long haul.
So, eat that holiday dinner, wear the lingerie (yes, in that order is fine), ditch the scale if you want and find what makes your body happy, not what makes diet culture thrive.
What I mean to say is that life begins when we choose for it to. When we choose to find happiness and gratitude even in the hardest times. A number on the scale won’t determine that. Yes, we may have goals for our bodies but the first goal should be to love our body through the “before” and “after,” because it has been loving you your whole life. So, please go and enjoy the memories this holiday season brings because life is short. Don’t forget to embrace your ever-changing bodies and always remember to eat the cake too (or some sweet potato pie!)
P.S. I’d love to hear your ideas on this subject. Leave your comments below. You can reach me at: Carmenrene@Curvicality.com. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more body love: @eatthecaketoo.