It’s that time of year again. It’s the time of year when holiday joy (and stress) morph into guilt and self-hatred. It’s when the world makes the Big Shift (or B.S for short) from Norman Rockwell holiday pictures and mass over-consumption to admonishment over holiday pounds and the overarching need for a “whole new you”. It’s the time of year that we hop on to the Big Fat Cycle.
I’m talking about the diet/exercise/binge cycle. Otherwise known as the fat panic / wild activity / fantasy thinking / huge disappointment / give up and eat two Big Macs at once cycle. Does this sound familiar to you:
1) PANIC—Oh my God, I’m so fat. The doctor / my mom / my husband / my agent / my psychic says I need to lose weight right away. I look awful. I might die tomorrow. I have to lose like 100 pounds, NOW! Maybe if I sever a limb I can lose like 10 pounds in one week.
2) FANTASY--If I just eat healthy at every meal / eat cabbage soup at every meal / totally cut out carbohydrates or red meat / exercise for an hour every day, I’ll lose a lot of weight. Maybe I’ll only lose the 2 pounds per week that is recommended or maybe a little more. Then if I just do that for the rest of my life, I can be a size four and life will be wonderful and perfect in every way.
3) DEFEAT—Oh, well it’s week four and I only lost half a pound. This is never going to happen. I don’t look like Angelina Jolie. I don’t even look like Angela Landsbury. I give up. I might as well have a cookie, or a dozen. I haven’t had a cookie in a month and look at me. I look the same as when I started. I want a COOKIE. No, wait, I WANT A LOT OF COOKIES. I may gain weight, but so what? I don’t care…
4) SHAME—Oh my God. Not only am I fat, but also I’m hopeless. How could anybody possibly love me? How could I even possibly love me?
5) RETURN TO STEP 1. Rinse and repeat.
How many times have you gone around this little circle? A dozen times? A hundred? Every New Year’s Day since you were twelve? Many of us have been on this vicious little cycle for our entire lives. And you know what? It’s not good. It leads to frustration, disappointment and often to weight GAIN. But there is an alternative. You can choose to love yourself the way you are and take positive steps towards better health without hopping on the Big Fat Cycle. One of the most positive steps you can take is to focus on fitness. Exercise has the power to change your life for the better. It normalizes blood sugar, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, lessens depression, improves immune function, helps you sleep better and even have better sex. And you can enjoy these health benefits regardless of whether or not you lose weight. But if you want to enjoy the long-term benefits of exercise, you have to STAY exercising. And in order to stay exercising, you need to work out in a safe, easy and FUN way that keeps you excited about fitness and keeps you from getting hurt. And you need to do this in a way that is about loving and honoring your body and not hating it. Ready to go?
You can learn more in my book: The Fat Chick Works Out (Fitness that’s Fun and Feasible for Folks of all Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities) or on my website www.thefatchick.com. Here’s to you very best new year ever.
Jeanette is a plus-sized certified fitness instructor, author and speaker. She helps people around the world learn to love exercise and love their bodies once again. Jeanette’s work has been featured on CBS News, Fox News, Extra as well as in The Boston Globe and the New York Times. To learn more about integrating healthy, safe and fun fitness into your life and to get your free copy of The Fat Chick’s Fitness Tracker click HERE. Jeanette’s books and DVDs are available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.com.