Anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight knows that the insta-world and real life are two very different things.
In insta-land, we find short video-length summaries of HIIT workouts that look simple, models shoving burgers in their faces, promises of skinny jabs and pills, ‘This one worked for me’ messages and plates of food cooked by celebrity chefs, or meal delivery services that cost a month’s rent. We also find befores and afters with astonishingly short periods of time between them, with little explanation (unless they’re advertising something they got free).
In real life, weight loss is a long, hard, boring slog. Done healthily it is reliable only in its disappointing speed and effort to results ratio. Especially for those of us tricked by the gram.
That’s probably why there's been such warmth shown towards Rebel Wilson’s weight loss journey – because throughout the year she says it’s taken her so far, she’s documented all the exercise and effort and willpower it’s taken her. From boxing rings to hikes.
The last few months have been a case in point, with Wilson sharing of herself on hikes and she recently revealed that she had hit her goal weight and was now moving into a 'maintenance phase' when it came to calorie counting.
Talking about her decision to lose weight to Drew Barrymore on the actress's show Drew this week she said “For the last few years I've been theming my years, so I had the Year Of Fun, last year I had the Year Of Love and this year I’m like, 'It’s going to be the Year Of Health', because I turned 40 this year in March and I never really focused on my health which was probably obvious."
“I was going all around the world, jet setting everywhere and eating a ton of sugar that was kind of my vice. I think what I mainly suffered from was emotional eating and dealing with the stress of becoming famous internationally.
“There is a lot of stress that comes with it and I guess my way of dealing with it was just like eating donuts.”
This is in no way to say weightloss is good or necessary or something women need to do to encourage praise. But if Rebel has made that decision herself (it’s nobody else’s business) then at least, for once, she has been honest about how hard it is and what most women have to get through to achieve it healthily.
After receiving attention for an earlier post, in August Rebel posted a picture of herself, saying: ‘Thanks for all the love so far on my “Year of Health” journey – when I was reaching for the candies last night after dinner I thought to myself “hmmmm… better not” and had a bottle of water instead x 8kgs to go until I hit my goal – hopefully I can do it by the end of the year x’
We’re so used to seeing celebrities disappear and suddenly turn up (quickly) significantly thinner (not healthier, to use Rebel’s actual phrasing). And we’ve all read enough after-the-fact teary admissions (and had our own suspicions) to know that it’s often not done healthily. Celebs in the past have been forced to apologise for lying about gastric bands, or confessed that when everyone was ‘praising’ them for how fantastic they looked, they were actually in the midst of a dangerous eating disorder.
While it’s any person’s prerogative to decide how much of their own relationship with their body they share, we are grateful to Rebel for her honestly, because far from giving a message that women should lose weight, it says, this is how hard it is, so don’t feel bad about yourself.
Rebel announced her decision to be healthier in January, saying: ‘Okay so for me 2020 is going to be called “The Year of Health” - so I put on the athleisure and went out for a walk, deliberately hydrating on the couch right now and trying to avoid the sugar and junk food which is going to be hard after the holidays I’ve just had but I’m going to do it! Who’s with me in making some positive changes this year?’
On the whole Rebel has talked about health and positive changes, which again is so much better than some of her peers. Importantly she’s also not equated health with skinniness. Or exercise with specific body 'wants' like washboard abs or thigh gaps.
Especially in her most recent post, her honesty just about the fact that she is trying to lose weight is refreshing. Instead of cloaking things in a wellness language which is often disingenuous, she’s spoken her truth.
Importantly this article is not in praise of Rebel Wilson’s weight loss. Praising women for changing their bodies is backwards, it’s not even close to enough of anyone’s business to give or take away praise. It is though, acknowledgment for her honesty about her journey in a sphere where it can be severely lacking.