IMG_5968Let me preface this by saying I have NO ISSUE with people wanting to lose weight. Or more specifically to lose fat. I’m not sitting here on my high horse all thin privilege telling you what you should or should not do when it comes to your own body. In fact I would be the LAST person who should do that, given my own history of disordered eating and body image issues.

And I don’t use the term thin privilege lightly. I don’t perceive myself as thin because I have body dysmorphia and what you see compared to what I see when I look in the mirror are not the same thing. BUT I have seen time and again women treated differently because of their size and it makes me angry and sad. If a woman wants to change how she looks then she is entitled to do that. If a woman is happy with how she looks and does not want to change it then that is WONDERFUL and I wish we all had that feeling about ourselves because I think the world would be a far nicer place. I know the inside of my head would be a far nicer place, that’s for sure!

So I come to you with a fairly emotionally charged background when it comes to issues of size. I ‘failed’ a famous 12 week program three weeks in because existing on 1200 calories per day whilst trying to burn 500 calories per weekday and 1000 on a weekend day left me feeling exhausted, angry and less happy with myself than when I started.

Over the past four or five years I’ve tried the 1200 calorie thing over and over, and for me once I had become more active the dangers of trying to live on that amount of fuel without serious damage became apparent. In fact I trained for a marathon on around 1500 calories a day and I went into it seriously undernourished. Completing it remains one of the greatest personal victories of my life, recovering from it and the injury I sustained, a lesson in how not to treat my body if I intent to keep it for a long time. Which I do.

We have some pretty big feelings about 1200 calorie diets and why they are simply not appropriate for women who train athletically, unless they are under specific nutritional guidance at a personal level because they are some sort of elite performer. And all the elites we know eat a lot more than the general population because they need to!

Every now and then people get cranky with us because we use ‘transformation’ photos in our advertising. Heck we have them on the front page of this website. It is a fine line for us because we know that MOST women who start fitness programs have fat loss as a personal goal. We were those women too.

But we also know that when you’re at week 6 of our Learn to Run program and AMAZED at what your body is doing, that fat loss may not be the focus it once was. A new respect for physicality is born not out of how your body looks, but what it can do.

Somewhere a shift occurs, and your body starts rewarding you not by looking like the airbrushed 14 year old popular culture tells you you should look like, but by making you feel confident and strong and powerful.

We need to get you in the door and at that stage of the program so you CAN experience the change in perspective. To do that we need to speak to what you are looking for in the first instance. Can you see the dilemma we face here? Would it change your feelings about our transformation photos to know that they weren’t the result of a 12 week program, but 3 – 4 years in the making?

I’m not going to tell you that learning to run or lifting weights magically takes away all that body hatred you’ve had hammered into you most of your life, I’m living proof of that. But I WILL tell you that when you start to respect your body for what it can do, how it looks just matters a little less. And when you finish your first 1km run you are not thinking about how your thighs look, you are thinking about how TOTALLY FREAKIN AMAZING YOU ARE! And so you should be!

For me, that feeling after a tough workout makes me WANT to fuel my body well. And that doesn’t mean 1200 calories of highly processed chemical diet crap, it means quality meat and lots of veggies and delicious full fat dairy and a KitKat every now and again.

Life is short. Do things that will enhance your health and wellbeing. If losing fat is important for your health do it in a way that is sustainable, doesn’t feel like a punishment and doesn’t set you up to fail. Start rewarding your body with movement that makes it feel good and food that makes you happy.

Move, eat, smile. You deserve to feel good.


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Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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  1. Thankyou Kate. It was a privilege reading your story. In the current January LTR program and this is the first time in my life I have loved exercise. I love the achievements my body is making and for once my motivation is to alleviate mental heaviness and not the numbers on the scales. Wouldn't you know it...changing the focus to being a more self loving one has meant the physical changes have been the best I've achieved in my exercising past. Kindness cures not deprivation