I’ve been thinking a lot about what motivates us to work at improving our bodies, and for so many women, it’s the number on the scale. We think the number on the scale automatically translates to looking good or bad. It holds so much power over us, if we let it. But really that number doesn’t really mean all that much. It doesn’t tell us how strong you are. It doesn’t necessarily tell us that you have too much body fat. It doesn’t tell us what your body can do and it doesn’t show us what you look like (despite our thinking that it screams “fat! fat!” to anyone within sight).
You can take three women who weigh the exact same amount and they will look remarkably different. Height, genetics, body composition, body shape and lifestyle can all affect what those women look like at the same weight. A woman who is 5 ft 9 and runs 4 days a week, will look different from a woman who is 5ft 2 and sedentary, and they’ll both look different from a woman who is 5 ft 6 and is a powerlifter. They may all weigh 145 lbs but be wearing different sizes and be capable of very different things. The number on the scale alone doesn’t tell us anything about them or their lives. It’s not useful but we cling to it like it’s the end all, be all, that determines our worth and how we feel about ourselves.
What if for just a few weeks or months we gave up wanting to lose weight? That nagging, permanent and always just out of reach, weight loss goal? The one that plagues us no matter what weight we are.
You know which one I’m talking about.
You lost 50 lbs . . but that’s not quite good enough, “oh I just need to firm up my belly or lose this belly flab. I’ll be happy when I lose another 10 lbs, I think . . .”
You lost 10 lbs. “Ug, it’s not enough. I need to lose a few more. My thighs are still out of control.”
“I won’t start living until I get rid of this weight.”
“I’ll accomplish x, y and z when I reach that weight. I’ll go on that trip. I’ll date more. I’ll start dating. I’ll buy a bathing suit.”
Try to remember back to the last time you were at that goal weight, you were probably there at some point (even if it was middle school). Were you happy with your body then? Or were you in it but wishing it was something different?
I have clients who by all ways of measuring are what many of us would consider a perfectly acceptable weight – but they’re still not happy with their bodies. Or they are, until they hop on the scale in the morning.
I have friends who are at what most would consider a perfect weight but they’re not happy with their bodies either.
When I was my thinnest, I still felt bigger than everyone around me and found fault with the most ridiculous things – my ass was too flat, my stomach has too many old stretch marks and loose skin etc. I determined that the number on the scale must still be too high.
Some of us will find something to criticize or tear apart no matter how much we weigh or how little we weigh. And sometimes the more we lose, the more we find fault with.
And we put our lives on hold until some mystery time in the future when everything about our bodies will finally be right? But they’ll never meet our expectations. There will always be something we don’t like.
Isn’t that the most insane thing ever?
Could you let go of wanting to lose “weight”? If not forever, how about just for the next 3 or 4 months? If after 3-4 months of not trying to lose weight, you are not happier in your skin, you can go back to being unhappy in it while also wanting to lose weight.
And during that time, instead of focusing on diets that restrict and make you feel tired and hungry, could you focus on taking amazing and loving care of yourself?
Instead of losing weight, your goal for the next 3-4 months is to:
- Eat food that nourishes, soothes and satisfies your body. Food that gives you energy but also leaves you feeling light and free.
- Move your body regularly with activity that makes it feel strong, powerful, graceful and resilient. And if it doesn’t feel that way now, your goal is to try new activities that you know will help you get there.
- Get regular sunshine, fresh air and be social with people whose company you enjoy.
- Laugh and cry and feel joy but also feel boredom, anger and sadness. Feel all the things, as much as you can.
- Stay home in your pjs occasionally and drink coffee and read fluffy fiction like it’s your job.
- Say “no” to some invitations/events/requests that you don’t want to do.
- Get 8-9 hours of good sleep per night (that means putting down your phone an hour before bedtime).
- Wear clothing that makes you feel amazing (no matter the current size or shape of your figure).
- Say what you mean and mean what you say.
- Live. You will do everything you had planned to do when you finally reached that weight, size or shape. You won’t wait, you will start doing those things now. Right now.
- Look in the mirror every day and find something that you like about the way you look. Bonus points if you can come up with something different each day.
- Give away as much love as you are willing to receive back (you ARE deserving of it). If you’re not there yet, practice will get you there!
During this time you won’t:
- Criticize your body in any way shape or form. Also don’t criticize other people’s bodies.
- Make judgements about the food that you eat or about yourself for having eaten food that previously you labeled as good or bad.
- Restrict, count calories, points, macros or anything else.
- Weigh yourself
Try it. Just for a short period of time, try letting go of the need to lose weight – especially if this is something that has plagued you your entire conscious life. Losing another 5 or 10 lbs is not going to fix what isn’t working in your life but putting down that burden might give you the clarity to find another way.
What might you be able to do if you were freed from thinking about your weight or size daily? Who do you think you would be? How might you be different? What about you would be the same? Would you like the woman you’d be? How can you be more like her now?
Like this? To get more like it, please download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldn‘t Be a Workout: Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).