You’re not a failure if you didn’t lose weight this year

I’ve decided that, going into 2023, I’m not going to punish myself about my weight any more (Picture: Emmie Harrison-West)

‘I’m the biggest I’ve ever been.’

That’s the thought that constantly bounces around my head at this time of year.

During this month of excess, all I can think about is how much weight I haven’t lost. I end up vowing to make it a New Year’s resolution and promising myself to stick to it. Again.

But it just ends up making me miserable. So I’ve decided that going into 2023, I’m not going to punish myself about my weight any more. 

I’m a size 16-18, the average size in the UK for a woman; I eat well, and I exercise frequently. I walk, cycle, go to spin classes (which are horrific) and I’m a rock climber. 

I’m not thin, by any means – and yes, maybe I could give up that extra pint or two on the weekend – but I’m well, healthy. Mostly happy with myself, and the woman I’ve become.

Yet, for the past couple of years, at the close of each December, I feel this huge amount of pressure to change that. To think that I have to alter the way I am because society wants me to look another way.

Truthfully, looking in the mirror at my stretch marks and dimpled stomach, I’ve told myself more times than I can count that I’m a failure.

Even though it couldn’t be further from the truth.

As soon as December 31 rolls around, I make it a resolution once again to lose weight – as if I owe myself thinness.

That I need to be slimmer to be happy. To feel a sense of achievement. I tell myself each and every year that losing three stone would help resolve all of my worries. 

It’s the way I’ve felt for years, decades, even. I’ve been on a diet for as long as I can remember and, while I’m extremely body positive, I have a difficult relationship with my weight.

And December brings it all to the helm. 

Emmie Harrison-West holding her dog Winnie infront of a door with a wreath on it

During this month of reflection, I can’t help but allow whatever worth has been prescribed to me because of my weight to overwhelm me (Picture: Emmie Harrison-West)

With every mince pie, every florentine and every Christmas pint I devour, I imagine my stomach getting bigger. The stomach I said I’d get rid of last year, and the year before that, but didn’t. I imagine my stretch marks snaking up to reach my face, while the voices in my head get louder.

Of course, I then eat in more of a disorderly fashion to quash my worries. Instantly satisfied – but it’s temporary, and the vicious cycle rages on.

It’s almost as if it’s been pre-determined for me that, because I’m overweight, I should want to change that. Should want to hate myself enough to want to be thin.

During this month of reflection, I can’t help but allow whatever worth has been prescribed to me because of my weight to overwhelm me. 

I’m not the only one either, apparently.

In 2019, an American survey revealed that nearly half of all people asked (48%) revealed that one of their resolutions was to lose weight.

In the UK, 40% of us made New Year’s resolutions for 2022 – and losing weight was the most common one. It ranked higher than spending more time with family and friends, looking after the planet, and taking better care of our mental health.

Losing weight was more of a priority this year than taking care of our minds. Let that sink in.

We have been programmed from a young age to believe that our weight defines our purpose, and our self-confidence – when it doesn’t, and hasn’t, ever. Our culture is obsessed with thinness, and fitting a certain mould. 

It’s a society that tells girls from a young age that ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’, congratulating them when they’re thin. One whose media is saturated with diets, weight loss plans, fitness regimes, and celebrities put on pedestals for how much they weigh off them – and demonising people who don’t look like them.

Even our healthcare system punishes those who don’t fit their guidelines of thinness. Weighing mere children at school, and telling them they’re obese according to their BMI, punishing and patronising people for ‘tipping the scales’.

Saying obesity is a ‘disease’, that is costing our healthcare service millions – guilt-tripping people into thinking they’re the problem when, in fact, it’s society’s for rejecting the needs of anyone who looks different.

This year, I’m making it my resolution to listen to my own advice about my weight – not the unsolicited words of other people. Finally, losing weight isn’t going to be on my radar for 2023. I’m going to be happy instead.

I’m here to remind you that you don’t owe yourself, or indeed anyone else, thinness. You didn’t this year, and you don’t next – or the year after. 

Your self-worth is not determined by your weight. Not the number on the scales, or the number in your clothes.

Stop waiting until you’re thinner to treat yourself better. To do the things you’ve wanted to do most in the world – because the only thing holding you back, is you.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected] 

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