I’ve seen countless posts on social media saying things like: “ Summer body delayed to 2021”, “Not sure if my clothes will fit me after this pandemic”. It seems like everyone has developed a fear of gaining weight while staying home during covid. The “quarantine fifteen” refers to the 15-pound weight gain during the pandemic, just like the “freshman fifteen” expression used for a student’s first year in college. These assumptions shouldn’t be joked about for so many reasons, but mainly because they encourage fake appearance ideals.
Why you should rethink weight loss goals during the quarantine
News flash! We’re in a global pandemic. Our lives are completely different than they were a few months ago. We may not be moving as much, or have less time to do so. Nonetheless, we’ve been stuck indoors 90% of the week. Most of us have other priorities to worry about at the moment than our physical appearance. We’re learning to manage work, family time and house chores differently than before. Some of us may have less free time, others may spend more alone-time than usual. These changes influence our boredom, our stress levels and our motivation towards maintaining healthy habits. It’s also harder to avoid snacking since our only outing is the grocery store and we spend our days working from home, a few steps away from the fridge and pantry. I’m here to remind you that it’s OK! You are not the only one. Give yourself and your body the chance to adapt.
It’s not time to start worrying about what other people think. The truth is, everyone is fighting their own battle, and they are most likely unrelated to weight. We should bring our focus on other things at the moment. Such as:
- Spending more quality family time
- Trying out new recipes
- Being less rushed in the morning
- Enjoying outdoor walks
- Wearing slippers all day
- Being covid-free (!!)
These are all victories! Our weight shouldn’t be the center of our preoccupations, cause we’ll miss out on so many other positive aspects of our lives.
Why are we so afraid of weight gain?
This certainly stems from societal standards. The rapid evolution of the health product industry and social media has made us believe that we need to meet a certain weight standard to be healthy and beautiful. This wrongful belief has played a detrimental role in our ideals and self-confidence, because it ties our worth to our appearance. That said, by stigmatizing weight, it has influenced us to idolize skinny people and fat shame.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever said or heard someone say the following:
- “Hey! Have you lost weight? You look great!”
- “OMG! You look amazing, what’s your secret to weight loss?”
We may not realize it, but these comments are only reinforcing that standard.
We are part of the problem : complimenting weight loss is counterproductive
With time, we have become part of the problem, since we impose those standards on ourselves. We also assume that everyone else is willing to lose weight. But in reality we are all doing our best at trying to be content with our bodies. Let me explain why complimenting weight loss is counterproductive to us achieving that. As I mentioned earlier, it ties people’s worth to their appearance. Were they unworthy of a compliment at their previous weight ? Our comments not only pressure that person to maintain their new weight, but also makes those around us believe that they may get more attention if they lose weight as well. These beliefs promote weight stigmas, which in fact, have been proven to be positively associated with body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness and negatively correlated with self-esteem in a U.S. study (1). Not to mention, some people go through extreme behaviours to look thinner, and our compliments would be encouraging those unhealthy actions. Some may have a bad relationship with food and we would be taking part in reinforcing it. Actually, weight teasing also applies, as it’s a predictor of dieting and disordered eating according to a 10-year follow-up study from adolescence to young adulthood (2).
What to say instead
Obviously if someone has purposely lost weight in a healthy way, then of course we can congratulate them. However, we still have to be careful not to tie our admiration to their appearance, but rather to their determination, their perseverance, their strength, etc. We should restrain from saying weight-related comments and instead compliment others on other aspects. An easy example would be by thanking them or congratulating the positive changes in their lives:
- “Thank you for being a good friend!”
- “Thank you for cooking this delicious meal!”
- “Thank you for supporting me!”
- “Your lunches look delicious. Would you share the recipe with me?”
- “Congratulations on running your first race this weekend. I know how hard you’ve been working.”
- “Your perseverance has inspired me to make a change. Thank you.”
There are numerous ways we can be supportive. That will not only remind them that they are appreciated regardless of their weight, but also encourage us to practice gratitude.
Another important way to break the pattern of societal standards is to practice positive self-talk. This is something I believe we all should apply on a daily basis. Remind yourself that you are beautiful, that you are worthy and that you have all it takes to achieve your goals. Focus on what you love about yourself. And if you can’t come up with anything, start doing so. It will benefit you in so many ways!
By raising awareness that complimenting weight loss is counterproductive to us achieving body satisfaction and self-esteem, society as a whole would become so much healthier both physically and mentally.
If you enjoyed this read, please share this post! Also, don’t hesitate to comment below, I’d love some constructive feedback from you! For more about MN, visit our website at www.motivenutrition.com and follow us on Instagram @MotiveNutrition
- Vartanian, L. R., & Novak, S. A. (2011). Internalized societal attitudes moderate the impact of weight stigma on avoidance of exercise. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 19(4), 757–762. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2010.234
- Loth, K. A., MacLehose, R., Bucchianeri, M., Crow, S., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2014). Predictors of dieting and disordered eating behaviors from adolescence to young adulthood. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, 55(5), 705–712. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.04.016
This post was written by : Stefania Vitale
Hi there! Here’s a little bit about me: I’ve been working as a clinic coordinator for Motive Nutrition since 2018, which has taught me quite a bunch about private practice. I’ve obtained my bachelor’s degree in Nutrition, my graduate degree in Public Health, and I’m currently completing my dietetics credentials at U of Montreal to become a Registered Dietitian. My interest in nutrition began in high school, with my curiosity for science and the human body. Over time, this interest developed into a passion, as I acquired knowledge and culinary skills. In addition, I’ve always enjoyed connecting with people, advising and helping them, no matter the issue. Today, nutrition is more than just a passion, healthy habits have become a way of life and I am more than eager to share its multiple aspects with you through blog posts. For more about me, you can check out my Instagram page: @Stefvitale_Nutrition