Fraternising with the enemy?

I recently spoke at a mind, body and spirit event about how women can feel sexy and sexual and enjoy their bodies at whatever their current body size or shape.

This is a topic I feel passionately about and I have a lot to say about it. So much so, that I’ve set up a new website and workshops for women aimed at helping them to enjoy ‘sexy body confidence’.

In my recent past, I’ve also run workshops for women all about ditching the diets and listening instead to what their own bodies tell them about their need for food and exercise.

This is something else I feel passionate about! I spent over two decades on the rollercoaster of yo-yo dieting and I know that dieting never helped me to feel good about my body. If anything, it just made me feel all the more anxious because my body image and sense of self-worth were balanced so precariously at the tip of the pointer on the scales.

Having sworn off diets and decided, instead, to explore intuitive eating and body self-care, I believed I could put all thoughts of diet clubs behind me.

But then I was asked to consider something I hadn’t thought of before.

A member of the audience at my talk asked if I would deliver my message to the women at her mum’s diet club (I won’t mention the name but it’s one of those big, national ones with posters and meetings in every town).  She pointed out that, for many women, losing weight leads to increased sexual confidence but, often, women and their partners don’t know how to deal with this change in their relationship. (That is, they haven’t been used to feeling sexy at any size.)

I had to think this one through. My initial reaction was that just stepping over the threshold of a diet club would effectively mean I was “fraternising with the enemy”!

Then I thought some more…

Yes, for some women weight loss may bring increased confidence, but I know how fragile that can be if/when the numbers on the scale start to creep up again.

I also know that, the best motivation to take care of your body (-whether that involves losing weight or not), is to enjoy the body you already have!

When you start from a place of taking pleasure in and from your body, you want to look after it. You want to feel vibrant and energised and you will create that for your body through your behaviours (e.g. around food, movement, sleep, quiet time, fun time etc).

My experience of diet clubs was that the current body (the starting point) is not good enough. My experience was the body cannot be trusted and therefore has to be restricted and controlled (and sometimes punished). My experience was that enjoyment of my body would come later when I was a size 12-14, when I’d lost 4 stone, when I could fit into those jeans…

The diet club may decide they don’t want to hear me talk about feeling sexy at any size. But if I do get an opportunity to talk to them, I won’t be fraternising with the enemy, I’ll be offering an alternative viewpoint to all those extraordinary women who are trying, trying, trying to make something better because something* doesn’t feel right in their lives.

Yay! Scale by VoluptuArt

If I can encourage women to develop more positive relationships with their bodies now, they won’t have to walk that wobbly tightrope of self-esteem where a 2lb weight loss means they are ‘good’ while any weight gain makes them ‘bad’. They won’t have to delay a happy and healthy sex life until sometime in the future when they have lost the weight/toned up/got rid of the cellulite… They won’t be unable to deal with feeling sexy at a new size because they will always have felt sexy at whatever their size.

I wait to hear back from the diet group leader. In the meantime, what do you think? Is this going to be too radical a suggestion or might they just let me into the club?

*Reasons for dieting are never clear-cut. It’s not about ‘weight’ per se, but rather the relative values and meaning we attach to weight. When we look deeper we ask: Why do women overeat? What do we hope to achieve/control in our lives by dieting? What are we really unhappy about? Is counting points/calories/syns really the best use of our energy and attention? Why are our bodies such an easy target for our displeasure? There are lots of questions!

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  1. Diets suck… and that comes from a woman who lost 7stone…. yes, nearly half my body weight! I spent most my adult life fighting the fat and dieting and then one day I woke up and saw the really fat person in the mirror I had come to hate and decided enough was enough. It took me 2 years to get rid of most of the weight and yes I altered my diet but mainly in the times of day that I ate and portion sizing but not WHAT i ate… the big change was excersize which is why I think diets suck, especially these ‘diet groups’ because they make woman believe that if you show up once a week to stand on their scales and eat the food they tell you and maybe go to one little excersize class then you will be thin… is crap. There is too much emphasis on diet and not enough on moving around… losing weight is simple… eat less move more. Oh and love yourself no matter what… even after losing all that weight my body is far from perfect but I have learnt to love it and most of all enjoy it.


    • sexualself

       /  March 6, 2012

      “Diets suck…” I couldn’t agree more!
      Great to hear you’re enjoying your body, Molly. Brilliant, in fact.
      I feel the urge to give you whoop:
      Anna xxx


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