The SHEER WILLPOWER Diet

This post discusses fat shaming, dieting, and disordered eating patterns.

MyPyramidFood

Recently at The Curvy Nerd, Alexa expressed her frustration with other Internet commenters who evangelize (and cast judgment) via the “sheer willpower” diet:

And, for the record, the SHEER WILLPOWER diet of which I speak is the imaginary one that Not Fat People tell us about: “Oh, don’t you know that all you have to do is eat less and exercise more? Put down the Big Mac!” Oh, jeeze, I didn’t know it was that simple!

And certainly, it did take a lot of willpower to restrict my caloric intake to an amount that was — while not low enough to constitute a starvation diet — was significantly lower than what my body needed to maintain reserves of physical stamina, mental concentration, and emotional stability. It took willpower to shun, in any amount, the foods I perceived as unhealthy. It took willpower to select exercise activities with the sole goal of calorie-burning efficiency rather than discovering and respecting my body’s needs and mind’s desires.

It took even more willpower to reorder my thinking to believe this was healthy. And it required a metric fuckton of the stuff to silence my doubts that I was happy in this life where I pinned my hopes on the slimness of my body.

But as Curvy Nerd commenter Robin pointed out:

One thing I think a lot of people don’t understand is that no matter what size you are, it takes a lot more willpower to accept yourself than it does to starve yourself. Denying onself food is easy, learning to have a healthy relationship with it is much, much harder.

It’s taken more willpower to experiment with exercise until I’ve found types I enjoy and negotiated ways to fit them into my daily or weekly routine. Yes, really — because it’s meant trying a variety of exercises that I don’t enjoy and giving myself enough time at each one to determine whether the culprit is the exercise or the unfamiliarity. It’s meant setting goals for myself that go beyond body measurements.

It’s taken more willpower to give myself permission to eat or not eat a food as I want — to refuse to guilt myself for it afterward, to untangle myself from assigning morality to foods.

It’s taken more willpower to deconstruct the bodies I see represented as normal and good television, movies, and advertisements. To realize that when a very narrow range of body sizes is presented as all of the bodies that we’re going to label “good” — it’s an artificial standard that a lot of people have a stake in perpetuating. To try to remove myself as a stakeholder on a daily or hourly basis — that takes even more willpower.

Even with that revelation, it’s taken two metric fucktons of willpower to stop judging other people’s bodies — to check myself and try again whenever I fuck up and body-shame. It takes three metric fucktons when that body is my own.

On my computer right now this instant, there are seven different articles and ads reminding me of all the ways society and consumerism wants to tell me that my body is not good enough. It takes SHEER WILLPOWER to tell them to fuck off.

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Posted in non-asana, satya, swadyaya, Uncategorized
2 comments on “The SHEER WILLPOWER Diet
  1. Autumn says:

    Thank you for this, Tori. I sort of needed this right now. When I was in ED treatment, I thought the hard part would be stopping myself from bingeing. That IS hard. It is. It does take willpower (well, sometimes–more often it takes thought and action, but willpower is a part of it). I was surprised to find that it was actually harder to end restrictive habits I’d fallen into, because that required me to seriously rethink what I’d been telling myself about “good” and “bad” actions (and good/bad) food. And that requires going against the grain of what you see around you, and it requires trust, and trust is harder to summon up in yourself than restriction. Restriction is the opposite of trust.

    • Tori says:

      And that requires going against the grain of what you see around you…

      This is what’s hardest for me. When I’m feeling the impulse to count calories and other nutrients and obsess over “good food” versus “bad food,” there is so much reinforcement — in general pop culture, among fitness enthusiasts, even from a lot of health care providers — telling me these are positive, healthy actions for me to take. And there’s so much approval waiting for me if I take these steps — sometimes even if they don’t pan out, but just for trying.

      It takes a lot of willpower to name a destructive pattern for what it is and to act in a way that is in my best health but that won’t win me “good fatty” approval.

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