Yes! You CAN Be Body Positive and Lose Weight: A Definitive Answer from a Fat Chick Losing Weight

Can a woman be “body positive” and still lose weight?

When a larger woman makes the decision to lose weight, is she turning her back on her fellow plus size sisters? Is she giving into societal pressure and betraying those who don’t want to lose weight, who are happy at their current size?

In corners of the internet, some folks say “yes.” They slam larger women of size who have been part of the plus fashion industry for years. Bloggers, Editors and digital influencers who share desires to publically lose weight. Those of us who have shared messages of body confidence for years in our various sizes and shapes. Can only a fat woman who stays fat be considered “body positive?”

<i>Feeling a victory after doing my first plank during a workout ever!</i>
Feeling a victory after doing my first plank during a workout ever!

So let’s get real. Can only a fat woman who stays fat be considered “body positive?”

To answer that candidly, you’d have to understand the reasons someone might be losing weight. Some bigger women who lose weight may do so driven by self-loathing. They believe “being skinny” is a magical pill leading them to a “perfect” life. They’d assume wrong. As we all know, “perfection” is a myth that can’t be chased at any size.

For many women, myself included, the decision to put health front and center and, in turn, to lose weight, is the ULTIMATE act of self-love. We launch our journey from a place of love, and see the process to becoming healthier as a road with no end goal, but a simple higher connection to life. 

The scale says a number. It says I've lost 30 lbs. But my life and my body says something even more important. My face is coming back to life. My neck. My smile. It's easier for me to move now. On Wednesday, after a long day at work, I still came home and cooked a dinner and cleaned the kitchen and unloaded and loaded the dishwasher instead of buying fast food on the way home and leaving the dishes in the sink. On Thursday I did the stairs of a six story garage... three times. I've leg pressed 310 lbs. I've walked the treadmill and increased my "resting pace" from 1.7 mps to 2.4 mph and increased the incline to 11. I haven't had a random hookup or a crappy date. I've delete numbers from my phone of folks who haven't shown up for me. I've started to educate myself about food, addressed late night emotional eating and had breakfast every single day since August 29. Let's be VERY real here. Overhauling your life can be incredibly alienating. There are moments you feel EXCEPTIONALLY alone. A lot of them. Like. A LOT. You're evaluating things and evaluating them again and again. There are nights you spend with the weight of the world on your head. There are friendships that WILL fall away because the people don't know how to support the lifestyle changes you've made. There are moments you will cry your eyes out because you feel as if you're standing on nothing but your own two feet.... but you MUST believe, you must, that in the long run is a version of you that is more free, more self-aware and more strong than you ever could have imagined. . . I had a rough night last night. And so I hunted down some pics to remind myself that I AM making changes. And to allow myself to celebrate my small accomplishments. And to recognize what I've been doing. I let myself lean on the support of friends. The pic on the left is from March of this year. The pic on the right was from about three weeks ago. I tried to find an Apple to compare to an Apple. . Big thanks to my dear friend @mandimccary for reminding me to smile. And thanks to @blakelosangeles who is so much more than a trainer #greaterat40 #workinprogress #weighlosstransformation #selflove #selfcare #weightlossjourney

A photo posted by Sarah (@greaterat40) on

Last year I had a realization. Sitting in New York City hospital room next to my mother who’d had (totally) unexpected heart surgery, while my dad was in a New Jersey hospital at the same time after a fall down some steps triggered by side effects from chemotherapy.

It hit me like a ton of bricks; I was going to die one day.  I had no idea how soon but, as I contemplated the well-being of BOTH my parents at the same time, the idea of my mortality became very, very real.

Suddenly, all the things about my body that I knew, in theory, weren’t right –the aches and pains I felt that were signs that I wasn’t living in an ideal health—became spray painted in neon on the walls of my mind.

Suddenly, all the things about my body that I knew, in theory, weren’t right –the aches and pains I felt that were signs that I wasn’t living in an ideal health—became spray painted in neon on the walls of my mind. 

At the same time, I realized that I wasn’t (emotionally) living the way I wanted. I wasn’t engaging at a high level in relationships. I was repeating patterns. Relying on crutches and coping mechanisms. Feeling unfulfilled by what I did professionally. In short, I was sitting in the passenger seat of my life.

That’s when I knew it was time to make a change. Sliding into the home base of my 38th birthday, I launched my journey to greater health. I’ve dubbed it Greater At 40.

I share my workouts, my weight, my emotional process and everything in between. The stuff they don’t show you in glossy “Before” and “After” pictures. Four months in, a slow and steady 31lbs down so far, I can safely say my decision to become healthier and stronger (and yes, lose weight) comes from nothing but radical self-love. 

I’m being brutally honest with myself about the choices I made in my past that got me here. To be honest about the relationship I had to food and my body. I decided to look it all in the eye and start the long process of pursuing a more healthful life.

Since I “came out” I’ve gotten a ton of positive feedback. Some negative as well. Pushback from women who’ve accused me of bailing on body positive messages because I’ve chosen to address my weight. They say if I loved myself and my body then it wouldn’t matter how much I weighed. I get it. I hear them. But I can’t agree that existing at my largest size, a size I know compromised my health and quality of life, was a necessary card to ante up in exchange for being part of the Body Positivity Movement.

I refer to one of the pillars of today’s body positive community, a gal I admire named Marie Southard Ospina. She states, “Bottom line, the body positive movement wants everyone to feel worthy of self-love.” She goes on to explain that body positivity means bodies of all shapes, sizes, and states of health are all worthy of self-love.

That’s clear enough.

I love myself.

I love myself so much that I want to do everything within my power to stay alive as long as I can. To assure I live life balanced and physically able to accomplish everything I set sights on.

I love myself so much now that I can recognize, for years, I did not love myself in honest ways.

Enough to offer myself forgiveness for the choices I made in the past when driven by the fear that I wasn’t “enough.”

I love myself so much that, one morning weighing in at over 350lbs, I was able to lift myself from fog and realize it was time for a body revolution.

Let’s not argue about whether fat people can be healthy; I speak for myself. I believe health is determined by several things including genetics, lifestyle, activity level and yes, weight. “Healthy” looks different on different people. And I can’t wait to see what it looks like on me.

So, you think a fat chick that is trying to become healthier and lose weight can’t be body positive?

Hold on while I adjust the ice pack on my left knee. I just finished an hour workout during which, among other things, I hauled my 318lb body around on a treadmill at a level 10 incline, leg pressed 310lbs, and did about 120 squats while looking like a sweaty Kraken in the process.

Hold on while I scroll through my cell phone to find only numbers of friends, colleagues, and folks who treat me with the respect I deserve. There are fewer contacts than there was a year ago―- but at least everyone here is a force of good in my world.

You think someone does this because they don’t love their body? Buddy, you got it all wrong.

This is what love looks like. At least, a version of love.

And that’s the point. Love and body positivity looks like different things to different people. For some, it is staying at a weight they feel comfortable. However, high or low a number. For others, it’s changing that number while searching for an alternative state of health.

I loved my body at 350lbs; not because it aesthetically excited me but because it was MY BODY. It allowed me to live every day. I loved that body… but I didn’t respect it. And so I allowed my fears to trample on my ability to self-care.

For me, fear (the opposite of love) looked like the laundry list of coping behaviors I’d accumulated the last 18 years of my adult life. When I THOUGHT, I loved myself, but I was only paying attention to the paint on the walls and not the structure of the house.

Fear caused me to numb myself with food. To bolster my self-confidence with meaningless relationships.

Fear kept me on the couch. It drove me to spend years overcompensating for things I thought I lacked.  When I should have been standing on my awesomeness without qualifications. Fear caused me to spin my wheels obsessed with the outside presentation. My accumulation of stuff, the portrayal of a “perfect” life with a great career without actually looking at the ground level I built on.

But now? I’m constructing love from the ground up.  

It forces me out of the house when “sweaty and out of breath” is the last thing I want to feel. When it would be so much easier to work straight through hour 11 at a desk, without meals.

Love body-slams the negative self-talk when I think I’m doing great, and then I see a picture, and I’m reminded how big I am. And for a single second I want to give up and say “screw it all” but then I recall why I started in the first place.

Love has forced me to look my personal crutches in the eye, rip em’ up from the ground and turn em’ upside the head.

Love is what forgives me when I try a new physical activity and I suck at it. I want to run, but I force myself to keep going. I say out loud to surprised glances of onlookers wondering who the fat chick is with tears in her eyes talking to herself, “Sarah, stop it, it’s OK to be bad, you’re showing up, and you’re here, and that’s all that matters. It’s ok to be bad at something. It’s ok. You’re ok.

Love has driven me to end relationships with guys who never showed up for me, who took everything I gave without meeting halfway.

It forced me to accept my finances, spend hours over Excel sheets and, for the first time in my life, create an actual budget based on reality and not some fiscal fantasy.

Love has empowered me to seek the most vibrant version of the Sarah I know I am.

And so I say, “yes” to the debate. If body positivity is self-love, if it is the feeling of believing my body and my being is worthy… then f*ck yes. I am 100% body positive. I am body positive because I love me.

For more inspiration and to join in the Greater At 40 conversation, find Sarah online at Instagram, Facebook, and blog!

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