A working title
Progress is not linear.
Just because I decided to give up dieting and try and be more accepting of my bod doesn’t mean I don’t still beat myself up sometimes for stuff related to weight, food and fitness. To get past this, I often try and think, when I’m berating myself for not having managed a run that day or for eating past fullness, would I treat a friend like this? Would I tell ‘em off for eating more than a suggested serving of Dairy Milk or treat them differently because they didn’t fancy doing a HIIT workout one day or stop tagging them (relentlessly) in Facebook memes just because they’d put on some weight?
The answer is, of course, no.
Or, as we say here in Spain, no.
Although this is a method that I often try and practice with myself, the opportunity hadn’t yet presented itself IRL until the other day. This weekend, a good pal came to me in a panic. She was panicking about having put on some weight. She was panicking about not going to the gym. She was panicking about not having abs.
As much as it so totally pained me to hear all this, especially from someone who I thought was super body confident, it did provide a good opportunity for me to compile Cait’s Not Exhaustive List of Stuff to Say to Pals When They’re Worried They’ve Put on Weight (a working title).
Número uno. Try to remind ya pal of what the function of their body is and what it allows them to do. If they’re able-bodied, their legs allow them to walk around and jump and dance til 5am (this latter one is obvs dependent, in my own case, on how willing the DJ is to play R Kelly’s Ignition (The Remix) on repeat). Their arms allow them to do accompanying hand-jives, and hug their pals or give high-fives to people you don’t want to make full-bodily contact with. Your bod’s brill and even though it doesn’t define you, it allows you to be you.
Dos. I'd say (as it was in my case), if your friend brings up exercise then you can tackle that too. Ask them if the lack of exercise point comes from a genuine ‘I want to move my body more’ motive or from an ‘I want to move my body more so I will expend more energy than I consume and thus lose weight’ motive. It should be the former so let’s go from there. For my gal pal, never once in our entire friendship had I heard her banging on about the CV machines at the gym, so I suggested that maybe she find a little time to focus on the exercises she does enjoy, just for the sake of moving. I know for her it’s maybe a pilates or a yoga session, a swim or a long walk- I know those things make her happy, so maybe suggest finding a little time in their diary to focus on those activities.
Tres. Let your pal know how much you bloody love them for reasons that have nothing to do with what they look like. Tell 'em how much they make you laugh, how much you know you can count on them, how patient, how creative, how generous, how bloody fun they are- how crucial they are to you and how no presence or lack of abs will change that. I will still like my pals’ Instas unconditionally if they’re a size 6 or a size 60. My pals would still make me laugh 'til I cry whether they put on some pounds or not. My pals will still be categorically my fave people ever if they choose to exercise everyday or never step foot in a gym again. I’m sure you feel the same.
Cuatro. MOST IMPORTANTLY and, something I’m really trying to do, is not to fall back on the inevitable ‘DON’T WORRY! YOU DEFINITELY HAVEN’T PUT ON ANY WEIGHT?!?!?!’. Even if it’s true. Even if you legitimately can’t see any change in their body, which I never really do with my own pals because HEY THEY’RE GREAT so I really couldn’t care less what their bods look like. My pals could grow a new arm out of their forehead and I’ll probably still be more preoccupied with asking which NYX Soft Matte Lip Creme they’re wearing. I’d say this point is the most important because if you do use this line to assuage your pal’s worries, you inevitably call their focus back to the aesthetics of their body.
It validates the assumption that putting on weight is a thing that they should not be doing and is thus bad.
It implies that they would have to worry if they had put on any weight.
It implies that thinness is synonymous with goodness and brings their sense of self-worth back to their body.
And all of this just contributes to a possible downward spiral: an escalated dissatisfaction with their body, perhaps a diet, so then some restriction, and then some bingeing, and so the cycle goes on…
And if you’re tryna be a good pal, I don’t think that’s something you want to be doing.
So, this list is a werk in progress and I’m sure it’ll be added to as I think on it a bit more. I’d also be really interested in hearing anything else people think is good advice in this situation so if you’ve any thoughts on it, lemme know!
Thanks for reading, huge love and industrial-sized vats of guacamole,