I always ask women why they want to lose weight.
This list usually includes things like: being more confident, meeting their dream partner, wearing different clothes, no longer obsessing over whether she ate too much or too little etc.
This wanting promises us a life that we dream of. When I was obsessed with getting leaner, I would imagine myself feeling invisible and irresistible. If I only had abs, life would be so much easier.
This pursuit of happiness becomes something compelling that we chase after by trying new diets, continually tweaking our habits, exercise or supplement regimes or other tactics to alter our appearance.
This ‘wanting’ lights up the same place in our brain that is responsible for our other cravings and desires. The cravings we have for peanut butter brownies after a stressful day or a greasy pizza slice with garlic dipping sauce after too many Margaritas. The desire that we have for winning the lottery and being on a perma-vacation.
But, it’s the wanting that we chase after. Not the having or liking. Are you addicted to wanting?
It’s the anticipation for a better life, more attention, greater popularity and wearing different clothes that keeps us hooked on this want. Not the reality of actually having those things. In the same way that walking by a bakery with fresh baked peanut butter brownies makes us drool, our fantasies about this life we’ll have with a different body keep us hooked on dieting and obsessing over food or our appearance.
Much like the brownie, when you actually obtain the sought after reward (a better body), the pleasure may last for a short period of time, but then you are back to wanting more.
We become fixated on the anticipation. We recognize that there is a possibility to feel good and we get hooked on chasing after that. It’s the same reason we go crazy inside outlet malls and buy everything that seems like a steal, yet we get home and wonder why the hell we needed 3 Michael Kors bags. It’s the rush of wanting.
We mistake this wanting for happiness and fulfillment. The promise of a better life is so powerful that we continue to do things to ourselves – like restrict and deprive and tweak and obsess – that distract us from actually living in the moment and appreciating what’s already in front of us.
This wanting doesn’t have an end.
This is why you can become so hooked on tweaking your diet or exercise or styling your hair differently, yet still feel unsatisfied. You look for the next new thing to try to satisfy this desire that is impossible to fulfill.
You can change this.
By slowing down and thinking about the outcome – based on past experiences or by visualizing it – you can give yourself a reality check and adjust your expectations.
If you change your body because you desire to be more confident, wear different clothes or not think about food all the time, then ask yourself, what would my life look like if I had those things? Really sit with that.
You’ll realize that it’s probably not going to be that different than it is now. You’ll still need to pay the bills, deal with an A-hole boss, get dumped on dates, have raging hormones and need to skip yoga to tend to your child’s lice problem (or in my case, clean my bulldog’s bum).
And if you believe that your life would look different, then I challenge you to have those things in the body you have today. Stop wanting and start acting. Start appreciating and taking in what you already have.
This is not to say that wanting is bad. It can be a very healthy way to feel inspired. However, you need to ask yourself if you are hooked on the wanting more than the having.
When you free yourself from this, you start to realize that the thing you were seeking happiness from (dieting, restricting, tweaking, obsessing), was really the main source of your misery.
Are you hooked on wanting? Share your wants in the comments below…I want to know!
I used to be a victim of “wanting”. Now I’m a lover of what I have and determined to have more, because I know I’m capable and I feel great when I push myself!
That’s awesome Meg! It’s great to come out of the cycle of perpetual want. My wants are now balanced with great appreciation for all of the things I have and I buffer my fantasies with the reality that comes along with them. Thanks for your comment! xo
Summer- this is such a great post! I need to read it every day! I think most of us are guilty of the excessive wanting. I know that I am. I am slowly working on being more appreciative for what I already have. I read a quote on Pinterest that said “someone is praying for what you have”. I try to remind myself of that every day.
Thanks Genola!! I think we can all use the reminder and work on savouring what we already have. I love that quote…thank you for sharing! xo
I have been hooked on ‘wanting’ a better body, to be more confident, to be able to enjoy the indulgences in life without obsessing about it, to be able to really look at myself in the mirror without judgement. I am working and striving to get away from obsessing over these things. I want to be happy with who I am, to enjoy food/drink without the guilt, to be able to look at myself and say “I love you for you!”, and to just live a happy, healthy life without all the noise.
I am truly, honestly working on this. I know it is going to take time but feel that I will most definitely, eventually get there. :-) I so appreciate your blog and these kinds posts. Just downloaded your 10 Rules to Break as well as the book Sexy By Nature. Feel I am finding and using the tools I need to get to what I really want.
Thank you for what you do and what you put out there! They are helping more people than you can possibly imagine! <3 XO
Your words mean so much. Thank you Val!! Know that I am cheering for your success!! It is a journey and I still struggle with these things too. Know that you are definitely not alone. As long as you keep adding tools to your toolkit and working with what you have, you will continue to break free from your own self-judgments and feel free in your body!
Thank you so much, Summer! Your support and encouragement mean more than you know! It is crazy how we sometimes think we are the only ones who feel the way we do but I have to remind myself that I am not alone and reach out for help and guidance when I need it! So thank you for being one of those people who, even though I have never met in person, I feel like I can come to when I get in those dark places to help pull myself out by re-reading this wonderfully kind reply, awesome post, and other posts you have written. :-) Thank YOU, again, for what you put out there and for your extremely kind words! And thank you for the hugs! Sending them right back! :-)
Thank you Val! It’s women like you that make me want to jump out of bed and spread the body love word everyday. You are definitely NOT alone. The more we share our stories, the more we grow this community and overcome our struggles together.
Apologize for the late reply, but thank you for your extremely kind comment back! :-) And I completely agree as I was just recently telling my very dear girlfriend about your blog and just how wonderful it is as we were chatting about body issues! So interesting to learn that she has similar ‘wants’ that I do and struggles with some of the same issues as well. I immediately said, “You HAVE to read and follow a new blog that I have found. She is simply amazing and will help you in ways you never thought possible!” You are really helping me get to where I want to be…loving me for ME! SO again, thank you so very much for what you do and put out there for all of us! You seriously are helping more than you could ever know or imagine!!! :-D
These were just the words I needed to hear today. I have been struggling with wanting because of being on a strict AIP, low histamine diet. I want so many things I can’t have but I also want to stop breaking out in rashes, having horrible headaches and suffering from autoimmune arthritis. I will be making a list of foods that I can have and try to be grateful for the variety. Thanks for providing perspective.
I have the upmost respect for your commitment to your health. It’s certainly not easy. Savouring the things you do have – whether it’s food or the other things in your life – will hopefully make your journey a little easier. Thanks so much for your comment!
I’m definitely addicted to wanting. I’m struggling because I constantly am thinking about food or my body. I have this overwhelming desire to be perfect in everything I do, I’m constantly planning the future. This made me realize I need to be in the moment. I need to enjoy my life right here right now. I’m struggling with breaking out of this mentality.
Hey Cortney! That is so great that you realized this. Bringing awareness to it is an excellent first step. Start to focus on being grateful for what you have and finding peace and contentment in the moment. I hope that some of my other posts/podcast can help you!!