“I really need to lose weight!”
Most of us have told ourselves that we need to lose weight at some point in our lives.
But, let me ask you something… have you ever wanted to lose weight to reach a goal that was purely aesthetic?
Before you ask, I’m not talking about wanting to lose weight for your health and it being a little bonus that you’ll look nice in that new dress you bought.
I’m talking about a goal of weight loss where literally the only purpose and driving force behind your decision is to look different than you currently do.
This is where weight loss becomes tricky territory because although we might not physically need to lose weight for health reasons, our aesthetic motivations start making us label our desire to lose weight as a need.
And after a while, following diet after diet; switching between cycles of gain and loss… it’s pretty damn easy to lose track of whether you truly needed to lose weight in the first place.
We have bad body image days, we feel insecure, we witness others hating their bodies and trying to lose weight, and we lose sight of the positive things about our bodies. The negative self-talk kicks in, our inner-critic focusses on all of our “problems” and reasons that our life would be better if we were physically smaller.
“I’d be thinner! Prettier! I’d fit those new jeans I haven’t worn yet! People would look at me differently!”
Here’s the thing: we don’t all need to be in a constant cycle of losing weight anywhere near as much as most of us tell ourselves that we do.
Let me give you a hypothetical situation. If I had a magic wand and I waved it over you, and you instantly lost 5-10kg, how would this make your life better?
If you answered that you would be healthier, fitter, and more able to participate in the activities that you love – well, this is possible! And it starts with making small, sustainable lifestyle choices, every day.
However, if you answered that you’d be more confident, you’d look better and would be able to wear different clothes – with nothing related to health/fitness, you might want to assess your motivation for wanting to lose weight. Are you becoming hung up on your weight or fixated on achieving a numerical goal? Realistically, is your health in danger if you don’t lose any weight?
I talk to an awful lot of women who are on weight loss journeys and for many of these women, even after losing weight they still feel awful about themselves and can’t look at their bodies without cringing.
They might have “fixed” what they perceived their physical problems to be, but the underlying psychological issues are still deeply rooted.
The fact is, at the end of the day, you can make all the lifestyle changes in the world but if you’re not making your mental & emotional health a priority, and really digging deep into the reasons behind whatever insecurity that you might feel around your body, you’re likely not going to feel much different about yourself if you drop 5/10/20 kg.
If you’re still able to do all the things you love and your health is not compromised at your current weight, and the main reason that you’re unhappy with your size/shape is because you’re unhappy with the way you feel about yourself… weight loss might not be the best answer.
In fact, for many of us, the pursuit of looking smaller is only serving to make us more unhappy, contributing to our insecurities each time we have a failed weight loss attempt.
If you’re considering losing weight (or gaining weight, for that matter), please stop and take a few moments to ask yourself:
- Is this desire for change motivated by health, or is it purely aesthetic?
- How to I feel my life would improve if I were to lose weight?
- Will I be going about weight loss in a sustainable and healthy way vs. crash dieting?
- Am I making sure to make my psychological wellbeing just as much of a priority as my physical wellbeing?
- Will I be basing my lifestyle changes upon individual recommendations from my doctor/dietician/psychologist for my specific body vs. what a magazine says?
And whatever you decide, keep this in mind:
Regardless of whether or not you do need to lose weight for health reasons, we all benefit from assessing our relationship with food and our bodies.
Once you start to work on those issues and look at your mental health around body image in a critical way, then you can start to:
- feel happier
- make positive lifestyle changes from a healthy place
- learn to accept your body
- stop fixating on aesthetic goals that serve to make you insecure
We all deserve to be happy and healthy, and this needs to be a holistic effort encompassing mind, body and soul.
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