How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself. Follow Kimber as she shares her journey to loving her body, the joys and sorrows of yoga teaching, and venturing into the wilderness of writing and publishing.

Friday, August 19, 2011

“Did Loving My Body Almost Kill Me?”

Can you imagine my reaction when I read this headline?

As these things magically circulate around the internet, this headline came to my attention via a reader of one of my favorite blogs, “Dances With Fat” (by the luminous Ragen Chastain), as the title of a recent article by Jess Weiner in Glamour magazine. What would cause a plus-size model/self-esteem speaker to decide after a negative medical checkup that she had to lose weight and declare that loving her body had almost killed her? I had to know more. Fortunately, the answer didn’t take long to figure out.

From the article it appears that, to Jess, “loving her body” meant:

· accepting her body at the size it was

· letting go of weight loss as a goal

· not going to the doctor

· eating poorly

· not exercising regularly

· not listening and responding to her body’s cues

· regular public speaking gigs to encourage other people to love their bodies too

Do you think the list above reflects love towards your body? I know for damn sure that’s not how I love my body. Ignoring your body, feeding it poorly, keeping it from enjoyable movement… we know that’s not love. Not for our bodies, not for our pets, geez, even my houseplants get attention and water. (I haven’t figured out what kind of movement they enjoy but when I do, they’ll get plenty of that too.)

Loving your body isn’t some kind of Orwellian excuse for not taking care of your body. In fact, loving your body is the reason to take care of it, just like you take care of your beloved child or sick friend or rare orchid. (Some people are fanatic about their orchids. You know who you are.)

Here’s my list of what it means to love my body:

· accepting my body at the size it is

· letting go of weight loss as a goal

· going to the doctor regularly (and acupuncturist/massage therapist/etc.)

· eating healthy and nourishing food that my body enjoys

· moving in ways that my body enjoys everyday (yoga/hula-hooping/dance)

· listening to my body’s cues and responding to them appropriately

You’ll notice some similarities between the lists… at least in the first two items. Then they diverge dramatically. What’s weird is that Jess concludes the article by saying that going to the doctor and treating her body well demonstrate love toward her body… huh? I thought she said loving her body almost killed her?

I think I see what happened… Jess misunderstood what it meant to love her body. Then instead of acknowledging her mistake, she declared the whole idea of loving your body misguided, even though she herself is currently enjoying the benefits of treating her body with more love.

Ah, what a tangled web we weave.

Jess lopped off the body and weight acceptance aspects of loving your body and decided that going to the doctor, eating well, exercising, and listening to your body are what matter… on her way to losing more weight.

Yay! Another opportunity to clarify an important aspect of loving your body: Jess, you didn’t need to ostensibly give up loving your body in order to lose weight. You can love your body and lose weight. You heard me.

Think about it. If you start listening to your body’s cues, and giving it lots of leafy greens, and fresh air, and realize that your body doesn’t like big gobs of sugar (or carbs or meat or whatever), and you feed your body and your heart what they need, you might indeed lose weight over time. Without thinking about it too much or ever stepping on the scale. Or you might not. Whatever. Losing weight isn’t the point if you truly love your body.

The point is that your body will feel good, whatever size or weight you’re at. And most likely, all the indicators of health (blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) will look good too. And despite all the fear-mongering to the contrary, more likely than not, you will be healthy too. Whatever size you are.

And you know what’s truly loving toward your body? Not stressing it out by cycling it through rapid weight loss and weight gain. Ouch. Poor body.

I suspect we haven’t heard the last from Jess Weiner. But I hope she arrives at a more nuanced/balanced/thoughtful understanding of her relationship with her body before she again declares that loving your body can endanger your life.

Loving my body saved my life. It saves me everyday. With love, from my body to yours.