Self Hate as a Motivator

So I just learned about the “humiliation diet” where you post your weight online every day and expect the people who care about you to be complicit in your self hate and badger you about your progress or lack thereof. What. The. Actual. Fuck?

Having hated yourself into shape, what are you going to do when you need to ask for a raise, when you want to buy a house, or tell a person you love them and you want them in your life? Are you going to hate yourself into your boss’s office? Hate yourself into a savings plan? Hate yourself into romantic bliss? What about your children, will you hate them to greatness as well?

Is that what you do with people you love, people who care for you, and who you plan on having in your life long term; mock them, and fuck with them, and remind them of how awful they are, so then they get better and you can love them again? OF COURSE NOT. Any healthy friendship would be seriously damaged, probably irreparably by that kind of behavior. Why would you do that to yourself?

You only get one body, one chance to experience life in this tangible way. Your body is your faithful servant, your only lifelong friend. If it’s sick, or it’s not performing, the answer is not hate. I’m not about to kick down my grandma’s door and scream at her until she un-strokes (strokes in, if you will). That would be cruel, and she would cut me out of the will.

Self hate should never be a motivator. Hate is such a poor substitute for love. I exercise because I feel empowered by it. I enjoy feeling stronger, being able to run longer and faster. I am constantly amazed at what my body can do after a month, after a year. I am in such a different place than I was when I started exercising 4 years ago. I’m having a love affair with my body and I enjoy myself immensely. I would never trade that experience for anything, and when I see all the ads and diets encouraging people to self-harm so that they can drop the pounds, like that’s the only thing that’s wrong with them, it really makes me sad.

I have an unhealthy relationship with food. The thing I need to keep myself alive, to power my amazing body is also the thing I am least capable of dealing with in a healthy way. I was taught by my grandmother and mother that food is something you should never enjoy. So my natural delight in eating became something to be ashamed of early on. I would eat, feel guilty, sink into self-hate, eat to make myself feel better, and start the cycle all over again. The idea that someone else would impose that torture on themselves willingly, as an adult is appalling to me.

It took me years to understand that I deserved to be fed, that there was no shame in requiring food, or enjoying food or eating food. That the way I felt about my weight was not helping me be healthy, and in fact, that it was making me sicker. My body had become a frenemy, shaming me with her indecency, spurring me on to eat terrible things, shamefully betraying my moral objection to my own fatness. Fat does not make a person bad, it makes them fat. I didn’t know that for the longest time. I wasn’t battling my weight, I was battling the ridiculous concept that I was worthy of love.

When I started to consider my body as a friend, as a dedicated servant, the world fell apart. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted for years. I had a lot of fun eating terrible food. Hey, if my body wants pie, who am I to deny my oldest friend? About four years ago, I came to the point where I realized this was also unhealthy. Now I am trying to form a concept of myself as a caregiver for this body, as a responsible adult. Just because it wants pie, doesn’t mean it gets pie every day, but sometimes there’s pie, because pie is delicious.

This went off in a weird direction. A nice direction, but also a weird one. What I’m trying to say is that self love takes much longer, sometimes you even get fatter – I did. But I had to do that in order to see that I could be fat as hell and still have worth. For years I denied myself food, I hid when I did eat and I threw it all up afterwards, always thinking that thin=good. For years after that, I ate what I wanted, I was confident and happy and fatter all the time. Now I’m trying to eat the foods that truly make me happy, that taste good because they grow good, not because of some artificial concoction. I am confident and happy, I can run 2 miles without stopping, I can bound up the stairs without panting, I can use my body in new and incredible ways. Do I look anything like I thought I should look 15 years ago? Hello no. Would i ever apologize for my fatness today? Fuck no. I earned every ounce of this fat. My fat is proof that I had the balls to stop living in guilt and love myself without shame.

Hating yourself until you’re worth loving is a hell of a hat trick. How do you know when you’re goal has been met?