I have a tendency to do things backwards—I rented a house on the other side of the country before selling my current home, I prefer to eat dessert mid-day, I shower before I go the gym, I often find myself wearing my shirt inside out. I’m wiggity wiggity wack like that.
Last week I wrote about “why it’s so hard to give up weight loss” and realized it was missing some context. You may be surprised to hear that I’m not anti-weight loss.
Your body is your business. You are entitled to do whatever you want to do with it and I would never (to my best ability) judge anyone for their choices or tell someone what they “should” do—unless you are paying me for my advice (and even then, I coach women to these conclusions on their own).
Here is what I am against:
- A society that tells women they are not enough unless they are “attractive” (a.k.a. checking off the boxes of our culture’s standards of beauty)
- Body shaming
- Moral superiority based on health status or body size
- Disordered eating
- Encouraging people to fight against their health to fit a body mould that perhaps it’s not meant to fit in to
- Seeing women sitting on the sidelines because they are wasting their mental space obsessing over whether they met their macros this week
- Using weight as a sign and predictor of health when this speaks nothing of actual behaviors that contribute to health (I’ll write more about this soon) and often neglects psychological health
- Inequality and particularly, the social stigma of fatter bodies and anything that contributes to this
I am all for health and I’m all for self-improvement. But, what I see is that so much of our desire to lose weight is actually harming our health and self-improvement.
Here is where I want you to get really honest with yourself and ask yourself these questions:
- Are you putting things (like wearing short-sleeves or taking a full body photo) on hold until you’ve lost weight?
- Is your self-worth attached to the size of your body or appearance?
- Are your food choices rooted in fear and self-hate (and be really honest with yourself here because I used to kid myself and everyone around me into believing it was about health)?
- Are you plagued by guilt and shame over your food choices?
- Is your food planning and preparation actually causing your more stress?
- Is your ‘diet’ causing you to miss out on social occasions and life?
- Would you be angry or ashamed if your weight didn’t change?
- Is your desire to lose weight because you are afraid of being perceived as fat?
All of these suggest that poor body image is your motivator and weight loss is your answer and this is where things get complicated. You’ve hinged your self-love on something conditional that may or may not change.
As you may know, back in the day I used to coach people on weight loss, so I’ve seen people lose weight for various reasons and I can tell you that time and time again things get really messy when the primary motivator is self-hate and weight is your only measure of “success”. I experienced it first-hand. I have seen people lose weight and not get obsessive and crazy about it, but their answers to those questions would be very different.
So should you give up weight loss?
As Dr. Phil always says, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” Only you know the answer. And if it is negatively impacting your relationship with food, creating more stress in your life and keeping you pigeon-holed in self-loathing then perhaps it’s time to move on.