Why Focusing On Weight Loss Is Probably Making You Less Healthy and HappyJun 10, 2021
In case you've missed it, my friend Amanda (of SimplyStylish.ca) and I have co-founded a passion project called The Real Diet Story. You can learn more about it here and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram.
We've been going live on IG each week and this week's topic was: if dieting is so bad, what are you supposed to do when you want to lose weight because your body feels terrible all the time?
So, that's what I'm talking about. Click the play button above to catch the replay of our conversation or continue reading for the cliff's version below.
Let's start with why focusing on the weight is the worst thing you can do.
Four Reasons Why Focusing on Weight Loss Is Unhealthy, Unhelpful & Probably Even Making You Gain Weight
- It causes food cravings, obsessive thoughts about food, overeating, compulsive eating and binge eating.
Feelings of scarcity around food is one of the biggest reasons people struggle with weight loss because everything about the way humans have evolved has been designed to avoid starvation. When presented with food scarcity, wanting to eat more in order to store extra body fat is literally programmed into our DNA. It's a process that has ensured our survival as a species since the beginning of time. That's why, as soon as you start trying to restrict, you can't stop thinking about, craving and even overeating the foods you're trying to restrict.
- It exacerbates emotional eating
Most people emotionally eat at least a little bit, sometimes - especially when stressed, scared or feeling down. Many people emotionally eat every day with every emotion (that was me). Given this, constant stress, fear and obsessive thoughts about weight don't do anything to help weight loss actually occur - in fact they do the opposite by causing added stress and negative emotions - none of which are healthy, all of which just fuel more emotional or stress eating and keep us disconnected from what we need in the present moment.
- It creates self-punishing behaviors
It perpetuates the idea that one body type is good and one is bad - that one is a reflection of success, the other failure. That belief gets internalized & you begin to believe your worth is a measure of your weight or what your body looks like. When we go through life feeling like we're less worthy or failures unless we can "get the weight problem under control" it causes shame, self-judgment & rejection. All of which have been linked to poor overall health outcomes and cause self-punishing, or self-destructive behaviors.
- It ignores the cause which keeps us from being able to change it
When you're hyper-focused on trying to change externals like what the number on the scale says, you have no time or energy left to focus on changing the conditioned patterns of behavior you're stuck in around food or your body that aren't serving you. What thought and behavior patterns are you stuck in that contribute to eating in ways that cause weight gain or make your body feel terrible? If they're not working for you, change those & allow your body to respond accordingly.
What To Do Instead
Understand that the choices you make for your body today cannot change what size your body is today but they can change what it feels like to live in your body today.
Remove the weight stigma & shame and stop trying to force yourself to make fear-based choices based on how they might change what your body weighs or looks like at some point in the future & instead start focusing on what will make your body feel its best right now (+ most importantly what’s stopping you from actually making those choices if you struggle to).
When you do, everything changes about the way you eat & treat yourself and your body, in the most beautiful (and lasting) ways.
- Accept: Bodies come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They are ALL are equally worthy & body size is NOT an automatic indicator of health or fitness level so forget what bodies weigh or look like.
- Ask: How does my body FEEL? How does it feel to live in my body today? How do I want it to feel?
- Investigate: What's stopping me from feeling that way now?
NOTE: Resist the urge to automatically blame your size for everything & instead think about the things you're saying to yourself every day about yourself & your body. How do those thoughts make you feel? What choices do those judgments usually result in and how have those choices impacted the way it feels?
- Consider: what drove those choices? That is to say, what patterns of behavior are you stuck in that contribute to self-destructive choices for yourself and your body?
- Change those things. Your body and how it feels to live in it will change accordingly when you change why you're making the choices you're making.
Bottom line: stop letting fear drive you by trying to control & micro-manage what you eat or weigh so you have the power to start understanding and changing why you're stuck in patterns of thoughts & behaviors that don't serve you (if you are) and start making choices for yourself & your body from love.