Say What You Mean

“I want to lose weight.”  Or “I need to lose weight.”

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What do you mean when you say this?  I hear it all the time and perhaps you even say it all the time.  But let me ask you a few questions…

1.)  Why do you want/need to lose weight?  

Oftentimes, people tell me it’s because they need to be “healthier.”  The reality is, you can be quite healthy regardless of your weight.  In fact, there are many people living extremely healthy, happy lives while still being considered overweight, obese, or even “morbidly” obese.  (I hate that phrase, by the way.)  Your weight doesn’t actually have anything to do with your health status.  I know this is incredibly difficult to believe, as it’s been pounded into our heads by society, doctors, and every other person within the healthcare system.  The truth is, habits and behaviors create healthy lives and healthy people.  There are SO many factors that make your weight what it is today – it’s truly not as simple as energy in-energy out.  Genetics, age, gender, stress, stage of life, sleep, hormones, medical conditions, and other factors come into play when it comes to your weight.  Losing or gaining weight isn’t the answer to attaining health.  (And I know it’s going to take a lot more time for you to believe that.  It’s taken a long time for people to make you feel the way your feel about your weight.  It’s a long process to learn another way of thinking.)

2.)  What do you really need?

When we hyper-focus on our weight, it often means we’re feeling somewhat stressed or overwhelmed in other areas of our life, and we’re looking for a way to focus our thoughts, which actually does help to soften our anxiety.  Our brains are funny that way-when we feel anxiety, our brains try to focus on something else that we can control…and we often think that our weight is one of those things.  It’s not, though.  So what have you been ignoring lately?  What is making you uncomfortable?  What is causing you to feel some sort of emotion that you’d rather not be feeling right now?  Just coming to terms with the fact that you are overwhelmed by an emotion or situation can help you realize that your weight isn’t actually the problem.  And losing weight isn’t going to solve anything.

3.)  What would make you feel better in the moment and in the long run?

I know what you’re thinking: “losing weight.”  But think about how you feel on the inside, your energy, your stress levels, your thinking patterns.  What would ultimately make you feel better?  Maybe there are some behaviors that you need to work on.  Perhaps you haven’t had time lately to make meals that you enjoy or to even have regular meals/snacks.  Perhaps you haven’t been hydrating adequately.  Perhaps your muscles have been sore and some light, gentle movement would aid in releasing tension.  Perhaps you haven’t had any time for friends or family.  Perhaps you’ve been intentionally isolating and you know some socialization would actually help your brain chemicals function properly.  Perhaps you haven’t been in nature in a long time.  Perhaps you don’t have anyone to talk to about your deepest feelings.  Perhaps your missing some spirituality in your life.  There are SO MANY ways to answer this question and I guarantee that “weight loss” isn’t one of them!

4.)  What have you been eating lately and how often are you eating?

Our body has biological needs that must be met.  If we’re too busy to listen to these needs, we’ll often feel listless, tired, and in a bit of a funk.  And those feelings can make us think that some weight loss ought to do the trick.  After all, everyone says that losing weight gives them such great energy!  The reality is that specific behaviors aid in creating higher energy.  Also, weight loss can cause a certain high that makes us feel energized for a short period of time, but it wears off pretty quickly and most people are then generally left feeling even more tired and…often depressed.  Also, when we’re busy and stressed out, we are sometimes apt to not eat regularly, and when we do eat, we’re not tuned in with our body to listen to what it really wants and needs.  So think about what you really want to eat and plan to have regular meals.  Your body needs fuel to function!

5.)  Finally, do you feel in control of your eating…and your emotions?

When we feel out of control in some capacity, we often seek to control something, and that something is often food and/or our weight.  Some people will even tell me that they “binge” in the evenings on “bad” foods.  But when we talk further, they realize that what they’re experiencing is a lack of control over what and how much they’re eating.  They aren’t connected with the food or their emotions, and they’re seeking to escape their emotions through food.  OR sometimes they realize they’re eating is a bit out of control in the evenings because they haven’t nourished their bodies properly throughout the day.  Feeling like you’ve lost control over your eating and/or emotions will lead many people to want to diet.  But controlling your weight isn’t going to help you gain control over food or your emotions.  It’s an easy way to avoid the real problem for a period of time, but eventually you’ll have to face the real issue.

These are just a few things to think about when it comes to the aged old statement of “I need to lose weight.”  Oh, and lastly, I really want you think about something…What if you stopped worrying about your weight and/or body size/shape?  What if it just never crossed your mind again?  Answer that question in your mind or write it down in a journal.


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