Resolutions 2011: Weight Loss and Fitness, Part I

I have met the enemy, and she is us.

As 2011 comes to a close, many people are already preparing to conquer their New Year’s resolutions.  Without a doubt, the most common resolution that women make is to lose weight.  But sadly, some of these ladies have turned Pinterest–the online inspiration board for food, fashion and assorted girly pleasures–into a pro-ana house or horrors. 

Every time I log on to the site, I am accosted by images of stick thin models and surgically enhanced celebrities.  I am subjected to phrases like “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” and not so subtly told that I’ll never have romantic moments if my thighs aren’t built for Daisy Dukes.  And frankly, the level of body loathing makes me weary.

When I was in my teens and early-20s, much of my life revolved around what I ate and what I weighed.  During my freshman year of college, things took an ugly turn, when I started going for days without eating solid food–convinced that I wasn’t thin enough until you could see my sternum peeking out from under my skin.

For a decade, I abused myself.  I cut pictures (like the ones above) out of magazines and pasted them on my fridge door and on my full-length mirror. My sense of self-worth was indivisible from my status as a size 0/2.  And when I think back on all of the time that I wasted worried about my weight, I feel sorry for younger Belle. 

Who knew that a decade later, I’d be 20lbs heavier and love my body more than I did when I had six-pack abs and thighs that didn’t touch?

The most important thing that I’ve learned since my thinner, sadder days is this: 90% of how you feel about your body is under your control.* You put the pressure on yourself to be thin.  You berate yourself when you miss a workout or gain weight.  And changing the way that you think about your body can change the way you approach your whole life. 

In my opinion, if you want to start changing the way you feel about your body, you need to ignore the bulls**t images you see of women who a) are thin for a living (models, celebs, etc.), b) have plastic surgeons to enhance their “perfection,”and/or c) are photoshopped to within an inch of their lives. 

Don’t project your issues onto a photo in a magazine.  Don’t think that you can find the key to happiness by taping photos of skinny women to your fridge. Because once you decide that the path to contentment lies outside of you, you’ve already lost.  But this is not to say that you should never go on a diet or go to the gym. 

What I am advocating is this: Let’s separate how we feel about how we look (to ourselves and to others) from the topic of whether we are fit and healthy. Because once you take the number on the scale and the unrealistic expectations promulgated by images in beauty magazines out of the equation, whatever diet and exercise plan you choose will ultimately be more successful.

Ladies, we are too hard on ourselves when it comes to our weight and how we feel about our bodies, and that negativity can impact every facet of our lives from career to relationships.  So if you’ve resolved to lose weight or go to the gym this New Year, I implore you: resolve to think positively about your body too. 

Don’t set the bar so high that you’ll never reach it.  Don’t despair if you gain a little weight or miss a workout or eat a piece of cheesecake.  Think of your goal, not as a number on a scale or as a jeans size, but as setting up a lifetime of health and fitness. 

And whatever you do, don’t hang a photo of Karlie Kloss’s 19-year-old, photoshopped pelvis on your Pinterest and say, “This is my dream body. No more brownies for me.”  Because God didn’t make that body, a half-blind photo editor did.

This afternoon I’ll share some fitness and diet tips that I actually find empowering rather than demoralizing.  Because working out and eating right is a good thing, especially when you live the hectic, sedentary, junk-food filled life of a Hill Staffer.

*If someone in your life tells you that you’re not good enough because, in their view, you’re not thin enough, tell them to back the eff off.  And if they still treat you that way, get away from them.  Life is too precious to spend it with toxic people who treat you like crap because of something as trivial as weight.  See: Belle’s former boyfriend who used to pinch the fat above her hips and call her pudgy, even when there was no fat to pinch. 


    leave a comment

  1. K says:

    Go Belle! Did anyone else see that Jezebel article about H&M putting clothes on computer-generated bodies? You can't aspire to it if it isn't real…

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  2. katherine says:

    the people pinning and liking the “Daisy Dukes” photo should be more concerned about the fact that they don't know the proper usage of “to” and “too”!

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  3. HRCK the Herald says:

    Holy cow, I didn't know all this stuff was on Pinterest. I normally only see recipes for holiday desserts, pretty weddings, and outfits. Now I know to stay away from the diet and exercise boards on there.

    Good post, Belle 🙂

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  4. Katherine says:

    I was going to comment about the to/too issue but saw that another Katherine already made the point! Great post, Belle. Looking forward to this afternoon's tips.

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  5. Heather says:

    I completely agree with you. I've battled my weight my entire life–my grandmother put me in Weight Watchers when I was in the sixth grade–and started popping diet pills in college. I literally wouldn't get out of bed until I'd taken them because I didn't want to be hungry and tempted to eat. I lost almost 50 pounds and was a size 4, but I still thought I was fat. And I'm pretty sure we dated the same guy, because my boyfriend at the time would pinch my “love handles” and say I was lazy, even though I worked out sometimes two or three times a day. The Fitness board on Pinterest both saddens and sickens me. Are there some good workout ideas to be found? Yes. But there are also way too many unrealistic images that young girls think should be their “ideal” weight or look.

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  6. No Drama Mama says:

    Bravo! Those pictures on Pinterest scare the crap out of me. I like being healthy, and I love to exercise, and I even like salad. My body is healthy, even thin. But I also know that because I am a pear shape, my thighs and hips won't look the way I want them to without starving myself. We need to separate health from appearance, because they are not necessarily the same thing.

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  7. S says:

    Thanks for this post Belle. After struggling with my weight my entire life and seeing fitness as only a solution to loss weight, I finally spent this year focusing on trying to run for the fun of it. I'm not great at it, but I've run a few races this year and can't believe how far I've come from the chubby kid in middle school who couldn't run a mile. My weight is still fluctuating and I'm not completely okay with it, but I can look back at the strides I've made this year in becoming healthier with pride.

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  8. Liz says:

    Thanks for all of these positive messages about living a HEALTHY lifestyle! Far too often I feel like people go off the deep end one way or another. Keep up the great work!

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  9. virginia says:

    GREAT post. I am so disheartened by the pro-ana propaganda on Pinterest.

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  10. S says:

    THANK YOU! Well put.

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  11. Lauren says:

    great post! it’s difficult to avoid all of the weight loss hype all of the time, but reading positive messages like this are an excellent reminder that being healthy and beautiful is not about the percentage of body fat on your body!

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  12. Emily says:

    Thank you for this!

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  13. Leigh says:

    Pinterest's “fitness” section is seriously full of some thinspo scariness. I don't know if I want to shake these girls or pity them.

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  14. Heatheresq says:

    Great post. I just reposted on FB!

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  15. Marie says:

    I have stopped enjoying pinterest because of this influx of weight related posts that support unhealthy weight loss methods. I have contemplated reporting them as abuse and have even made comments on the pinners but it doesn't seem to change people. I have never had friends who think or talk about things like weight like these pinners and am really shocked that people think that way.

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  16. LM says:

    Thank you so much for bringing this up. I'll admit I'm one of those women that has a health/fitness-related board for exercise stuff, healthy eating things, and the love your body motivators. But there's nothing I hate more than the “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” crap. It's a toxic way to think and it sickens me that all of it gets re-pinned so many times.

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  17. Belle says:

    LM-Having a board is not the problem. Miss M does the same thing. It's having a board designed to make you try hard by making you feel bad and reinforcing an unrealistic ideal that is the issue.

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  18. AnnS says:

    Belle, thank you. I am definitely sharing this with my friends. Health, both physical and mental, is far more important than size.

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  19. Julie says:

    I see those things on Pinterest too and it drives me crazy! I'm going to check out your other post to see your positive tips now. Thank you for this one.

    December 21, 2011/Reply
  20. Carlene says:

    As someone who works in the nutrition field, I completely am refreshed by this post. Our social media world is utterly supportive of the 'thin is in' mentality and a number focused lifestyle. It's unhealthy to obsess over the number on a scale, but rather what the focus should be is how you feel. And for goodness sake, if you want an ice cream, eat it! Savor it, enjoy it, and don't regret it. Eat for health 80% of the time and savor and indulge the other 20%. No one wants to live off of celery. Great job.

    December 21, 2011/Reply