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What Can We Learn from Adele’s Weight Loss Journey? A Body Positivity Expert Weighs In
Adele’s recent weight loss has generated more buzz than any of her other accomplishments. The singer-songwriter’s noticeable weight loss sparked a media frenzy when she posted a photo of her new, slimmer physique on Instagram in May 2020. However, in a recent interview with British Vogue, Adele revealed that she was not happy with the public’s reaction to her weight loss. She stated that her body had been objectified throughout her career, and she was disappointed that other women were making brutal comments about her body.
Adele’s approach to her weight loss journey is unconventional, and it challenges the public’s reaction to her changing body rather than celebrating her newfound slimness. Psychotherapist Paula Atkinson, who specializes in eating disorders, says that Adele’s attitude is refreshing, and there are lessons we can learn from her experience.
Celebrity Weight Loss Stories Can Be Triggering
According to Atkinson, celebrity weight loss stories are often meticulously documented, and this can be extremely triggering for individuals who struggle with body image issues. These stories send an unrealistic message that anyone can lose weight if they try hard enough. In reality, weight loss is a complex process that is influenced by many factors, including genetics, metabolism, and environmental factors.
Body Objectification is Harmful
Atkinson believes that body objectification is a serious issue that can have harmful effects on individuals’ mental health. When people are judged based on their physical appearance, they are more likely to develop negative body image and low self-esteem. This can lead to disordered eating behaviors, such as restrictive dieting, binge eating, and purging.
Self-Acceptance is Key
Adele’s decision to keep her weight loss journey private was a healthy choice for her, and it is a reminder that self-acceptance is key to positive body image. According to Atkinson, individuals who are able to accept themselves as they are, without judgment or criticism, are more likely to have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.
In conclusion, Adele’s weight loss journey can teach us important lessons about body positivity, self-acceptance, and the harmful effects of body objectification. Rather than focusing on weight loss as a means to achieve happiness and self-worth, we should strive to accept and love ourselves, regardless of our size or shape.
Fitness Goes Beyond Weight Loss: How Exercise Benefits Mental Health
Adele’s motivation for exercising was not to lose weight, but to improve her mental health, and it turns out that exercise can indeed help with anxiety. A review published in BMC Health Services Research analyzed 15 previous studies and found that both high and low-intensity exercise reduced anxiety among participants, with high-intensity exercise showing a greater effect.
It is important to recognize that the benefits of exercise go beyond weight loss. In fact, a review published in iScience in September 2021 found that increased physical activity and fitness can significantly improve the health and longevity of adults who are classified as obese, even if they do not lose weight. It is worth noting that weight loss alone does not consistently lead to these benefits.
The Power of Focusing on What You Can Gain, Not Just What You Can Lose
Despite the media attention on Adele’s weight loss, the singer herself is more focused on the positive changes she has experienced. In an interview with British Vogue, she revealed that her fitness journey was not about shedding pounds, but rather about becoming stronger and spending more time away from her phone.
According to psychotherapist Paula Atkinson, focusing on positive gains rather than negative losses can be a more effective way to stay motivated and connected to your body. Instead of viewing exercise as a means to an end, such as weight loss, finding deeper motivations for movement can help you cultivate a stronger sense of connection with your body.
This idea is supported by research. A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that participants who exercised for intrinsic reasons, such as enjoyment or stress relief, were more likely to maintain their exercise routines than those who exercised for external reasons, such as weight loss or appearance.
Furthermore, exercising for non-weight-related goals can have significant benefits. A 2021 review published in iScience found that physical activity and fitness improvements were associated with better health outcomes and longevity, even when weight loss did not occur.
Overall, shifting your focus to what you can gain from exercise, rather than what you can lose, can help you cultivate a more positive relationship with your body and stay motivated in your fitness journey.
The Dangers of an Obsession With Weight
Although Adele’s weight loss has received much attention, Atkinson warns against praising someone’s weight loss, as it can send the wrong message. “Our culture is obsessed with the idea that people in small bodies are superior to people in large bodies,” she says. Praising someone’s weight loss rather than other aspects of their fitness journey can suggest that weight is the only attribute that matters.
Weight loss may not always be sustainable in the long-term, according to research. While most people who diet lose weight in the short-term, studies show that the average amount of weight lost after two years is just two pounds. A review published in the BMJ in 2020 looked at data from 121 trials with over 21,000 participants and found that weight loss and any accompanying health benefits had disappeared by the one-year mark.
Additionally, the emphasis on weight loss can have harmful psychological effects. If someone regains weight, which is common, they may remember all the praise they received when they were thinner and feel worse about their larger body.
Instead of focusing solely on weight loss, Atkinson recommends celebrating other aspects of fitness journeys, such as increased strength, stamina, or mental health gains.
The Role of Privilege in Weight Loss
Adele’s fitness journey was aided by her wealth, as she was able to devote much of her time and energy to improving her health with the help of trainers. However, for most people, this is not an option. Many individuals are not able to devote significant amounts of time to exercise or hire professionals to help them with their fitness goals. The idea that weight loss is simply a matter of willpower ignores the structural barriers that can make it difficult for many people to achieve their goals.
Body Autonomy and Celebrity Weight Loss
In her recent interview with British Vogue, Adele revealed that she did not document her weight loss journey on social media, nor did she sign any lucrative deals with diet brands. “People are shocked because I didn’t share my ‘journey.’ They’re used to people documenting everything on Instagram, and most people in my position would get a big deal with a diet brand,” she said. However, this isn’t the first time that Adele’s body has been the subject of scrutiny – she has been objectified for years.
Some people have expressed disappointment and anger over Adele’s weight loss, feeling that it is a betrayal of sorts. “It feels like a betrayal, because we have so few celebrities who are not participating in the body hierarchy that we have,” explains Atkinson. However, Adele (or any other celebrity) does not owe anyone an explanation for her body. “Fundamentally I believe in body autonomy,” says Atkinson. “If Adele wants to make lifestyle changes to improve her health, that’s great. And if she wants to make her body smaller, that’s also just fine. She doesn’t need to explain her motivations to anyone.”
It’s not just about willpower or money, as many people may assume. According to Atkinson, people who are able to maintain weight loss usually have to devote a lot of time and energy to it, which is not always feasible for everyone. Additionally, many celebrities have access to resources that most people do not, including personal trainers, nutritionists, and chefs. Adele acknowledges this fact in her British Vogue interview, stating that “It’s not doable for a lot of people.”
Atkinson hopes that celebrities in larger bodies who lose weight will use their platform to speak out against the discrimination and marginalization that they experienced before weight loss. However, she also acknowledges that this is a personal choice. “Whether or not they want to do that is completely up to them,” she says.
In the end, as Adele herself has said, “It’s not my job to validate how people feel about their bodies.” We should all have the right to make our own choices about our bodies, without fear of judgment or criticism.