What To Do When You Feel Like You'd Do Anything To Lose Weight... Except Eat "Right" & Exercise
I spent a lot of years struggling with my own weight. Some of those years were spent starting and failing at weight loss attempts but others were spent not even trying. Of living in that place of wanting to lose weight, or feeling like I was supposed to want to lose weight but not really wanting to do any of the things I thought I had to do to get there. In diet culture, it’s become a joke and we’re often made to feel lazy and weak when we’re in this place. But the truth is, it has nothing to do with being either - it’s nothing more than just not wanting it badly enough. And an even bigger truth ...THAT’S OK. Not wanting to lose weight badly enough to actually do it, doesn’t make you bad. When we want something badly enough, we will do whatever it takes to get it. When we don’t? We make excuses, we find reasons to put it off, we let fear or self-doubt keep us from even trying. That’s how we can think we want it… but not do anything about it. Have you been there? Living with that ever present “I really need to lose weight” thought followed by “but I don’t wanna diet, or exercise. Wanna lose weight but not bad enough to do anything about it? So, the question is, what should you do if that’s where you are? First figure out what you really want and why you want it. It’s your body. You’re allowed to live in it and be happy at whatever weight you want - no matter what diet culture tells you. And you have the power to make it feel better to live in, with your next choice. So let’s dig into your real why. Why do you think you want to lose weight? Is it because you think you’re supposed to, to look better? To fit some diet culture mold of what our society says bodies are supposed to look like? If this is the ONLY reason why you want to lose weight, you’re likely going to struggle forever. Looks are a horrible motivator for most people. Why? Well, because it’s more about external validation and doing it for other people, than it is for ourselves. And if looks are your only why, you’re only faced with your why for a few fleeting moments each day. How often do you look in a mirror or see your reflection? I’d guess well under 5 minutes a day. The rest of the time, you’re not seeing your body and being reminded that you wish it looked different but you ARE seeing all the foods you love. And if looks is the only reason, all motivation goes out the window in those moments because the choices you make right now cannot affect how you look right now, but they can taste amazing right now. Is it fear of not being healthy because we’re programmed to believe that size is an automatic indicator of weight? Well, that’s also a terrible motivator. Fear-based decisions for our bodies almost ALWAYS lead to self-punishing and self-destructive behaviors – true there are a small percentage for which this isn’t the case, but they are the exception, not the norm. Is it because you don't physically feel good now and you think losing weight will make you feel healthier? This one is a little better than the looks motivator but also pretty terrible because like with the rest, it's based on obsessing over choices that we think we "need" to or "should be" to create some future that may or may not happen rather than choices based on right now. As a general rule, whenever you're adding words like "need to" or "should be" in relation to your body or food, it's a really good indicator that your why is misaligned and you're going to keep struggling. How do I know this? Because if you actually wanted to do those things badly enough, if your why was big enough, you wouldn't be thinking, "I need to" or "I should be", you'd be actually doing those things. So, if you're hearing yourself say those words about anything really, it's a red flag that it's not something you care enough about. The other reason it's a terrible motivator is because it's not likely even your weight that's not making your body feel its best, it's more likely your day to day choices. Often, when we're carrying extra weight, we don't feel great about ourselves and when we don't feel great about ourselves, we don't treat ourselves very well. We think well, I feel like crap anyway so I may as well just eat this thing that's going to make me feel like crap. We put off making more health related choices until we decide to "lose the weight" because we're so heavily associating health and weight loss. But you CAN change how it feels to live in your body today without losing an ounce. It starts with your next choice. Meditating or walking/stretching for 10 minutes or having a big glass of water with a bowl of your favorite veggies can affect how your body feels right now. Perhaps it’s because of how you think losing weight is going to make you feel about yourself or life? That’s a common one. I’ll be happy when… I’ll feel so much better about myself when… Also, not a great motivator because 1) it’s rooted in the mistaken belief that you are lacking those things now and need to change your body to create them (remember when I talked about how wanting to change how our bodies is a terrible motivator)... that you need something outside of yourself to create them and 2) when we don’t believe we are worthy of feeling those things as we are, we’re prone to self-sabotage The fix for every single one of those things is to stop feeling like you "have to" make choices based on future events and start focusing on your present. AND... start accepting yourself exactly as you are. Right now. Really. So, what’s stopping from doing that? What are you telling yourself about yourself that makes you believe you don’t deserve your own acceptance today, exactly as you are? I think you deserve it. I think you’re perfect as you are. Why don’t you? Because you’re living with that non-stop nagging feeling that you need to lose weight before you can? That’s often one of the very things that makes us keep gaining but more on that in a minute. Those are some of the many reasons why the weight centric model in our culture is so deeply flawed, at its core. So let’s get into some actionable things you can start doing right now to change it. Stop even thinking about it. Your first piece of homework is to let thoughts of weight loss go entirely. Every time you notice the thought pop into your head, remind yourself that it’s counterproductive and that no, you don’t have to lose weight. You can feel however you want to feel RIGHT NOW, without ever losing an ounce. I know that when you spend years feeling like you always have to be worried about your weight it can be scary to stop but it’s a vital first step in the process. Why? Well, for one: how’s it been working for you to keep thinking about it? Have you gotten there yet? No. So, thinking about it isn’t working. But also, it’s making things worse. Have you ever noticed yourself thinking about weight loss and then reaching for food? I guarantee it’s happened, whether you’ve noticed the connection or not. Let me explain why… First, because when we live with the non-stop nagging feeling that we have to lose weight and associate weight loss efforts with restriction, deprivation and suffering, we live in “I’ll just have this now because when I start trying to lose weight again, I won’t be able to have it anymore” mode. Nobody has ever made nurturing choices for their bodies living like that. And second… humor me and try a little experiment: sit still and quiet for a moment. Relax, bring your attention to your breath, take 5 nice slow deep breaths in and out, staying focused on your breath the whole time. Then start to bring your attention to your body. How does it feel? What sensations do you feel? Where do you feel them? What do they feel like? If they had a shape and color, what would they be? Ok… now, start thinking about needing to lose weight. Think about those words, what they mean and how they make you feel. Say them out loud a few times. Stay present with your body while doing so. What do you feel in your body now? Where do you feel it? Perhaps it feels a bit like a dull ache in the middle of your abdomen? Or an uncomfortable tingle in the middle of your chest. Why does that matter? Because every time “I need to lose weight” pops into your head, whether consciously or unconsciously, it’s causing a physical response in your body that you’ve probably not even noticed before and have almost certainly been interpreting as hunger - because our brains often get signals mixed and learn to associate every sensation in our bodies with hunger. On a call with a client one day not too long ago she stopped and commented how strange it was that she just noticed she felt hungry… but she didn’t think she should be because she had just recently eaten. We went through the little body connection exercise together in that moment and she realized the sensation she was interpreting as hunger was actually in her chest. Where do actual hunger pains come from? Not our chests. Through some more work together she was able to identify that what she was actually feeling was overwhelm. Our thoughts have power to influence our emotions and our emotions drive our choices. So, thinking about weight loss can drive us to eat more. That’s why priority #1 is to stop thinking about needing or wanting to lose weight. The other thing you can start doing right now is just stopping for one second before you eat and asking yourself… Why do I want that? Am I physically hungry? (use the little body connection exercise I just took you through to figure it out) and then, “how will I feel if I eat that and do I want to feel that way?” Those are some powerful first steps you can start taking right now to stop always having weight loss as that nagging, ‘ugh, I really should do that’ dread hanging over your life. Lastly, if you notice that you go through that process and find yourself saying, “I don’t care” when you’re about to eat something that you know is going to make you feel like garbage, that’s not a sign that you’re hopeless, it’s valuable information about what your next steps need to be… heal your relationship with yourself so you stop feeling like you deserve to be punished. That’s more complicated but it can be done and I can help. Drop me a message if you need it.