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Why I Refuse to Lose Weight for Summer

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I was grinding out my workout and jamming to “Despacito” when a voice popped into my head and said, “Push harder, Hannah! You’re going swimsuit shopping this weekend! Don’t you want to look good?”

What? My world (and my workout) stopped for a second. Where did that come from? I started jumping rope again, but I couldn’t stop wondering what happened. Am I hungry? Or is it PMS? Whatever it was, I needed to make sure it didn’t happen again.

Instead of nurturing that voice inside my head like I did for so long, I collected myself, exhibited self-control, and pushed it away. I told myself the things I really needed to hear:

“Doesn’t working out feel good? Look at what your body can do! Isn’t this cool, how strong it is? You’re gonna be able to run around so much at your camp counseling job this summer.”

It took a moment for that voice to go away. It took every fiber in my being not to listen to it—not to think, yeah, it would be nice if my body looked good for swimsuit shopping this weekend. But I kept repeating the affirmations of self-love until the voice went away and I was able to enjoy my workout again. That was weird. I love my body, I really do. And I exercise because I love it, not so I can love it.

Some people exercise in order to change their physical appearance, and they’re perfectly fine doing that. They can set a goal weight and simply exercise and diet until they reach it without any detriment to their mental health. They’re still happy, confident, and able to participate in life.

For a long time, I didn’t understand that I’m different than “those people." I watched YouTubers who tracked their calories and weighed themselves every day. They were still “complete people." They had entire lives, and dieting was something they were able to do on the side. They could take a day off of their regimen without feeling too guilty, and they didn’t spend every second obsessing about their process and appearance.

In a diet-obsessed world, it sometimes seems that everyone is that way.  Because of that, I didn’t see anything unhealthy about wanting to change your physical appearance. You’re gonna live in this body your whole life, so you might as well make it as pretty as you can, right?

That voice pops up into my head fairly often, but not nearly as often as it used to. The other day, I was trying on bridesmaid's dresses for my cousin’s wedding, and that voice came back and said, “Hey, if you lose a lot of weight this summer, you would look so bomb in this dress.” I quickly shut the voice down: “I’d rather enjoy my summer.”

It used to be a lot more difficult than that. For a while, that voice inside my head was much louder than my own voice. In fact, I thought it was my own voice. I did what it said. I tried to lose weight. And I became a monster. I was obsessed with losing weight. It was the only thought on my mind, from the second I woke up in the morning to the time I fell asleep at night.

 

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When I first started trying to quiet that voice, it felt impossible. I couldn’t eat a meal without shaking from anxiety. I couldn’t look in the mirror without analyzing my body, every inch of it, wondering how much better I’d look if I lost weight.

I used to tried to compromise with the voice. I won’t try to lose weight, but maybe I’ll focus on gaining muscle so my body will still look good.

That was a dead end. No matter what, if I valued my body based on its appearance, I wasn’t able to enjoy the rest of my life. Everything revolved around my goals for my body.

I slowly learned that my brain isn’t wired the way some people’s are. There’s simply no compromising with me. And if I have to go “all-out” in one direction or the other, I’d rather go all-out for vibrancy and happiness and life than all-out for attractiveness.

It’s tempting to buy into the hype. It’s tempting to try one more diet, to lose some weight to impress people when I go back to the school in the fall. But I know that I cannot mentally handle that

I refuse to participate in any of that. Some people can do juice cleanses or measure their stomachs every week. But I know that I cannot. I can’t even allow weight loss-related thoughts to spend more than a second in my mind. And that’s okay.

In the time since I stopped allowing myself to focus on my body’s appearance, I’ve made some of the best friends and created some of the best memories of my life. One time at 3 a.m., I left my dorm with some friends and ate French fries at a sketchy diner. I’ve skipped several gym days in order to go to my sister's soccer games or my roommate’s dance recital. When I used to exercise simply to look good, I never would have allowed myself to do any of that stuff, simply because it didn’t align with my goals. But when my goal is just to be happy, sometimes exercising and eating healthy aligns with it, and sometimes 3 a.m. French fries and skipped workouts align with it.

Who knows what I’ll look like next week when I go swimsuit shopping, or next fall at my cousin’s wedding? Maybe I’ll be thinner and maybe I’ll be heavier; I could lose or gain muscle by then. But whatever body I have will be the result of a vibrant, exciting, joy-filled lifestyle. It will be the body that carried me through beautiful memories and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


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