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Our society has a love-hate relationship with weight. We hate to add any, but we love to talk about it. From 19th-century corsets to the heroin chic 1990s, it seems like there’s always a new, trendy silhouette to fit (or not fit) into.
More often than not, our conversations around weight include how to get rid of it or what “bad” lifestyle choices are causing us to hold onto it. We talk about weight gain like it’s a bad thing, even if it might be the healthier option.
But Valerie Bertinelli recently shared a perspective on weight that I’d never heard before. It was full of compassion, empathy, and grace—things we’re rarely encouraged to give ourselves in the context of weight gain.
Bertinelli had a lot to talk about in her recent visit to Today with Hoda Jenna. Some recent life happenings of note included a brand-new book, the death of her late ex-husband, Eddie Van Halen, and a divorce from her husband of 11 years, Tom Vitale.
Her new book, Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today , is a biographical recounting of this tumultuous journey. Bertinelli describes her path to self-love with humor, raw honesty, and, most importantly, compassion.
As the conversation turned toward self-image and weight, Bertinelli told the TV hosts, “I have not gotten on the scale since I finished writing the book.” She began to tear up. “Oh, god, here I go again. I apologize, but it’s just a very emotional thing.”
Bertinelli looked toward the studio audience and back to Hoda and Jenna. “I’m looking at myself in the monitor and trying not to judge myself too harshly. I know that I’m still holding onto this weight because it’s protecting me right now.”
I had felt like Bertinelli before—catching glimpses of myself in the mirror and becoming disheartened at what I saw. However, I had never thought of extra weight as protection until the Food Network personality brought it up.
“I’m going through a lot of challenges,” Bertinelli continued. “A lot of heartbreak, a lot of crazy stuff is going on in my life right now. Oh, I’m going to have a vulnerability hangover tomorrow.”
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“When I get healthier internally and emotionally, the weight will come off,” she explained further. “I know I’m treating my body better. I’m drinking less alcohol, eating less sugar, more vegetables. But my body is doing this for a reason. It needs protection.”
We often discuss weight gain in terms of things we shouldn’t be doing. We ate those carbs, drank that wine, and skipped that workout when we shouldn’t have. But what if that weight gain is what we should have done? What if it was what our body needed at the time?
Suddenly, a little extra weight isn’t holding you down; it’s keeping you safe. It isn’t something to sneer at. Instead, it’s something to thank and appreciate while it’s around. And it also is a helpful way to shift our focus on our mental and emotional health, which can often go unchecked in popular diet and fitness culture.
The shift in perspective is relatively small, but the results can be monumental. No one is immune to bad self-image days, not even beloved celebs. But if we practice shifting our narrative slightly, we can make our journeys toward unbridled self-love a more pleasant one.