Quit Saying"Quarantine 15"
Updated: Jan 11
I feel like I can't escape"Quarantine 15" memes.
For the less tech-savy readers out there, these memes are social media posts about fearing weight gain during quarantine. It's similar to the phrase "Freshman 15", the name given to gaining weight during your first year of college.
These posts are just another way to body-shame ourselves, and others, and it's made me reflect a lot about diet culture, body image, and my personal experience.
As a kid, I used to say to my mom:"I'm not fat, I'm not skinny, I'm just this big."
The first time I really noticed my size was when someone in my family made a comment that I was "bigger" than my older sister. It wasn't meant to be rude, it wasn't said to hurt me, but it did. Something shattered within me. I had never noticed before, and now I was looking in the mirror through a new negative weight-tinted lens. I felt like I needed to do something to change this. I started exercising every day at the age of 11. I had a "lateral thigh trainer" and found myself completing workout videos much more than any 5th grader should.
As I got into my teenage years, my body started changing more, and body image pressures came flooding into my world. I noticed a shift, a social desire to be a smaller size and look a certain way. I never felt like I lived up to the standards. Regardless of the size I was, I would compare myself to every girl around me, wishing I could have a slimmer physique.
Then came the college years. Eating dining hall food and drinking alcohol for the first time did mean gaining a little more weight. I found a gym buddy, and our only goal, and only reason for going to the gym was our desire to be thinner. We pushed ourselves on the elliptical machine to burn X amount of calories. We had a "thin-spiration" board hanging in our dorm rooms with photos of impossibly skinny models and bloggers, quotes to encourage us to continue on a weight-loss journey. My gym buddy and I ate a lot of our meals together. One day she grabbed a brownie off the dessert display. I saw her take a bite of it, chew it, and then spit it out."I just wanted the taste, not the calories." I was shocked, I had never seen anyone restrict themselves in that way, but it triggered my mindset in a way that I would default back to for years-- a "diet" mentality.
As an adult, working in "the real world", the dieting pressure is even more apparent. There's always one co-worker who's on a "juice cleanse", or "Whole30", or "Keto", or "Intermittent Fasting"... whatever the latest trend is. People constantly make comments about others' lunches and snacks. It extends beyond the workplace, and into our social circles, our families, and all over the news. We hear it over and over, that it's basically drilled into our heads that we need to work out in order to "burn off" last night's pizza, or order "dressing on the side", we need to eat more"clean" and "our diet starts again on Monday".
We are wired to worry about what we're eating, all for the FEAR of gaining weight.
I am guilty of it too, I have tried many diets, read diet books, drank diet shakes, restricted myself, googled "skinny recipes", exercised every day, cried in dressing rooms when I couldn't fit into a certain size, obsessively counted calories, obsessively measured portions, cut out fat, cut out carbs, cut out meat, cut out sugar -- all for one purpose, to fulfill the societal need be thin.
I cannot believe how much of my life I have wasted worrying about my weight!
I have used such harsh words to describe myself, nit-picking what I believed to be imperfections and flaws. I noticed how people use "you look thinner" or "did you lose weight?" as compliments. We use "thinness" as a praise-worthy achievement, a goal.
As I discovered holistic wellness, I realized there was more to me and my health than my body size. I realized that being thin does not equal being healthy, and it definitely does not equal being happy.
Now I eat food that makes me feel my best. I no longer diet, and I eat without restrictions. I eat a lot of whole foods because it helps my digestion, gives me more energy, and nourishes my skin. I like to move my body every day as a way to relieve stress, and to feel strong. I don't own a scale, and I don't let the mirror, or the size of my jeans make me feel inferior to others. This is an ongoing journey, and something I will continually need to work on.
I am by no means an authority or an expert on this, but it is something I think we can all work on. I know I am only scratching the surface of this deep-rooted societal problem, so let's consider this part 1, and maybe step 1. I know we have all faced this in some way-- so if you have ever felt body image pressure, I encourage you to be kinder to yourself. If you feel the urge to make a comment about someone else's body-- think of something else to bring up.
I always go back to a post I came across from Liz Moody, the author and podcast host of "Healthier Together":
"Women have so much more to offer the world than thinking about and talking what our bodies look like".
We put entirely too much emphasis on our size and not enough time sharing the important unique things about ourselves. The number on the scale is exactly that, A NUMBER. Why not define ourselves with the interests, hobbies, and passions we have, or the happiness we bring to our loved ones, or the hard work we put into the jobs, charities, and volunteer work we devote our time to.
Quit dieting in general, but especially during a pandemic, quit exercising to lose numbers on the scale, quit posting about, talking about, and thinking about the "quarantine 15". Use that energy to start honoring what your body needs with the intent of feeling good, not looking a certain way. Maybe your body needs a rest day, or to lift heavy weights, maybe it needs a cookie, or maybe a salad. Try thinking about nourishing your body with the fuel it needs to be strong, vibrant, and balanced.
We need to stop letting our bodies and our weight define us, because there really is so much more to our stories. We're not fat, we're not skinny, we're just this big - and that is perfect!
I would love if you could share something interesting about yourself below that is much more interesting than your body - or post it on Instagram and tag me @bewellwithmarissa .