For as long as I can remember, I’ve started each new year with the same resolution: to lose weight.
I’ve vowed to spend the upcoming months eating only the ‘healthiest’ of foods, and have sworn to myself that I’ll exercise intensely until I reach a weight that I’m happy with. Trouble is, no matter what my scales have read, I’ve never been content with the amount that I weigh.
As someone who has bulimia, stepping onto the scales has always been an issue for me. I’ve treated my weight as a way of measuring my self-worth. With every kilogram that I’ve gained, I’ve loathed myself a bit more. Instead of forgiving myself, or embracing it, I’ve turned to ‘punishing’ myself. In most cases, this has ended with me sat on the bathroom floor, after throwing up so much that I’ve gone dizzy.
My bulimic episodes tend to get worse, and more regular, when I try to keep my ‘weight loss’ New Year’s resolution. As I limit my calorie intake, and up my gym sessions, I become more obsessed than ever with my weight. With every treat I eat – or exercise session skipped – I feel compelled to step on the scales. If I notice an increase in kilograms, I can’t rest until I know that I’ve thrown up the contents of my stomach.
This isn’t healthy. Whilst there’s generally nothing wrong with wanting to change your diet, or deciding to up the amount of exercise that you do, it always turns into a problem when I try to do it.
That’s because I take it to extremes. I put unrealistic expectations on myself, and when I don’t meet these expectations, I feel compelled to punish myself. Whilst I may eventually drop a kilogram or two, I ultimately end up feeling miserable, and hating myself more than ever.
That’s why, in 2018, I’m going with a different New Year’s resolution. I’ve decided that, instead of spending the year trying to lose weight, I’m going to spend my time learning to love myself. I’m determined to be kinder to myself. I’m going to try to enjoy eating bars of chocolate, instead of instantly feeling guilty for ‘breaking’ my latest weight-loss diet. If I skip an exercise class or two, I’m going to forgive myself, and take joy in the fact that I’m not aching from head-to-toe.
Instead of basing my self-worth on a number on a set of scales, I’m going to try and love myself for my good qualities. I’m kind, I’m caring, I’m a hard worker, and I’m strong. These are the qualities I should be basing my self-worth on, instead of some meaningless number.
I know that changing my resolution this year isn’t going to magically make me better. Bulimia is an illness that I know I’m going to live with for the rest of my life as, even when I’m not making myself sick, I’m consciously counting calories, and trying hard not to dash to the toilet after every meal.
However, whilst I can’t cure my eating disorder, I can take steps to aid my recovery. The first of those steps? Making 2018 the year that I don’t focus on ‘losing’ weight, but instead focus on ‘gaining’ self-love.