As is unfortunately the case for many girls these days, I started my battle with my body from a young age. As of my teens I was constantly uncomfortable in my own skin and judgmental of the way I looked. As a way to feel in control and “solve” this, in my late teens and early twenties I became so dedicated to controlling my weight that calorie counting and exercising consumed my life. I truly thought I was doing the right thing, that I was being “healthy”. But my mind wasn’t healthy.
When I first began focusing on losing weight it started with a “goal weight”. But when I hit that goal there was still fat in places I didn’t like so I found a new goal weight, and another, and another until I was far thinner than my body was meant to be. Although I liked what I saw in the mirror at that low weight I wasn’t giving my body the nourishment it needed. My body was never meant to be that size and maintaining that weight wasn’t sustainable so I started slowly gaining the weight back. And with each pound gained, I lost more and more confidence in my body. If it wasn’t that lowest weight it wasn’t good enough and I alternated back and forth between being okay with what I saw in the mirror and desperately trying to lower the number on the scale.
I kept thinking if I could just lower that number a little bit, closer to where it was before, I would be happy, I would be satisfied, that it would be enough. And this way of thought was disempowering and exhausting.
A few years ago I came across the book Intuitive Eating and I knew it was something I wanted to learn more about. I had spent so long counting every calorie I consumed and burned that the concept of eating what I wanted when I wanted was something I hadn’t done since I was a child and it seemed next to impossible. But I was exhausted by my current food and exercise obsession and knew I wanted things to change so I decided to give it a try.
I quit weighing myself and I started working on demoralizing food, on eating when I was hungry rather than trying to go without, on not restricting the day after I had eaten “too much” and on taking days off from exercise when my body needed it. And as I did, I could tell from the way my clothes fit that more weight came back on. I won’t lie, this was hard at times. When you see so many images in the media of how your body “should” look it’s hard to not let those sudden urges of needing to look like that creep into your mind. But I continued to assure myself that it was by filling my life with nourishing foods and enjoyable movement that I would achieve true health and happiness. It wouldn’t come by forcing my body to look a way it wasn’t meant to. And as I started implementing this new way of thinking I was able to start moving away from body-hate towards self-love.
Ironically, it wasn’t by following all the diet plans that promised me I would love my body and my life by forcing my body to a certain size that brought me happiness. It was becoming the heaviest I’ve ever been that granted me permission to be truly present in and appreciate my body and my life as they are in this very moment.
If you’re stuck in the mindset of having to lose that “last” 5, 10 or 20+ pounds I invite you to ask yourself what you feel you truly have to gain by obsessing about losing that weight and then ask yourself what you’re losing in the process. I now know with all certainty that for me, focusing on losing weight did not bring me the things I thought it would — a love of my body, confidence in my shape and an all-around happier life. Instead it made me question every piece of food I put in my mouth, judge every workout and whether it was “enough” and made me feel like I was never thin enough, beautiful enough, or even just enough. But in a wonderfully unexpected turn of events, not worrying about losing weight brought me a true love and appreciation of my body just as it is right in this moment. Love handles, cellulite and all.
Eating more nourishing foods and living a more active life so you can live and move through the world more comfortably and happily are such wonderful goals. But focusing on losing weight doesn’t need to be a part of that. If you feel you have to lose weight for health reasons, I would invite you to take a look at the wealth of research indicating weight loss isn’t necessarily required in order to improve health markers. Instead, choosing more whole foods such as fruits and veggies and finding movement you enjoy doing on a regular basis can improve your health, regardless of the number on the scale. Eating more whole foods and less processed items, incorporating regular movement and practicing self care can improve energy, degrease aches and pains, improve mental health and so much more — no staring at the number on the scale required.
For me, not worrying about the number on the scale or how I look in the mirror lets me choose healthy, nourishing foods because I want to, not because I “have” to. It lets me find movement I enjoy rather than tying myself to the elliptical for an hour every day. It lets me be present with my loved ones rather than counting and recounting every calorie I eat. It lets my body find that natural, healthy weight it is meant to be, regardless of whatever society is deeming that particular day to be “acceptable”.
You do not need to have toned arms, a flat stomach and a perky rear to be the passionate, exciting, funny, interesting person you are. You do not need to be cellulite-free to jump and run and move through the world. Ask yourself, if you lived in a world where there were no magazines or movies or diet companies telling you there was something wrong with the cellulite on your thighs or the fat on your hips, would you even give them a second thought? No. You’d be busy living and loving and playing.
It took me a painfully long amount of time to be in a place where I could start to love my body just as it is but I am so grateful I have finally gotten to this place and I would love nothing more than for every person to be free of weight obsession and body hate. If you need some support with kicking diet-culture to the curb and achieving a healthier and happier body and mind, please don’t hesitate to contact me. It’s a tough journey sometimes but it’s worth every step.
Share your thoughts
I know the concept of no longer focusing on weight loss can feel totally new and it may bring up many questions for you. If you have any questions about giving up weight loss, making health-supporting changes without stressing about the number on the scale, learning to accept your body as it is or anything else this discussion has brought up for you, please don’t hesitate to leave a message below or to send me an email. I’d love to hear your thoughts and to help in any way I can!