The truth about weight loss has finally been exposed. Sadly, the news isn’t what most want to hear. It’s certainly frustrating for me, but the longer I’ve worked with clients on making peace with food, the more obvious the real problem: We are not able to choose our weight, let alone try to control it.
The way I explain this fact is there are two parts of every person: there’s the conscious mind that makes decisions, learns, thinks, attempts to solve problems, etc. (I refer to this as “me” or “you”), and there’s the body, which controls everything else (AKA, “your body”).*
The bottom line: weight loss is your body’s job. Your body controls your weight and it will do everything in its power to keep you at your genetic setpoint. If you continue to yo-yo diet, that setpoint may even rise and your body will fight to keep you there. What do you (we) have control over? Reconnecting to your body and learning how to hear its signals again – we were all born this way. When you take care of your body based on its requests, you’ll never need to attempt to take control over your weight again.**
The amazing women from Be Nourished have written a post all about why NOT focusing on weight loss is a much better approach. It’s a must-read prior to the New Year!
Hilary and Dana’s post, “10 Reasons Not to Focus on Weight in the New Year,” is excellent and I encourage you to read it. I’ll share just a few key points. First, how many times have you tried to lose weight and beat your body into submission? Their very first point, while sad, really says it all:
It likely won’t be different this time, and this is not your fault… Participating in dieting culture supports the illusion that weight loss leads to happiness and health. Honestly, for most people, weight loss just tends to lead to more worry about weight re-gain.
Under this same point, they quote Anne Lamott, talking about her experience with dieting and weight:
…I used to start diets, too. I hated to mention this to my then-therapist. She would say cheerfully, “Oh, that’s great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?”
In another point, they remind us when a diet fails, the disappointment leads to a typical cycle of “…self-blame, comparison and disconnection from yourself.” They suggest:
The dieting mind causes stress, cruel inner dialogue, and pain. Let’s vow to blame the diets this time, yes?
I love everything they have to say and I agree with it 100 percent. But I have two favorite lines I’d like to shout from the mountain tops so everyone can hear it and even better, take it in and understand these truths:
Your body is not a problem to be solved.
This is my other favorite line from the post:
Hating on our bodies and only conditionally loving ourselves inadvertently supports a limited set of acceptable ideals that have been established by industries that want to sell you stuff.
This is something I’ve recognized for a long time and it makes me so angry every time I see a commercial for a diet, weight loss, fitness or beauty product. Listen carefully to those messages, you’ll hear the underlying message that you’re simply not good enough without our product. Sure, it’s marketing. But it’s disgusting, too.
Now that’s something to get mad at the next time you’re beating yourself up or wishing you were more (thin, tall, attractive, smart, social, etc.). Anger can be a catalyst for change. Feeling desperate to lose weight or despondent because you can’t, keeps you stuck in this very low energy.
When I wanted to accept my body the way it was so I could finally make peace with it, nothing happened as long as I was sad and depressed about it. When I realized that I had been taught to hate my body, I got angry at the people, the culture and the industries that perpetuated these beliefs, usually for their own benefit. This anger helped me decide that I was in charge of how I felt about my body and with time, I was able to change it for the better and reject these outside influences.
Remember, we weren’t born hating our bodies. In fact, babies are fascinated with their bodies! And, as Dana and Hilary point out in their post:
[Your body] is your home and regarding it as separate, problematic or disgusting can result in a type of detachment that interferes with your ability to hear its valuable messages to you… You inhabit it for this lifetime, and we believe body trust is your birthright.
Be sure to check out the entire post. If you’ve been entertaining the idea of setting a weight loss resolution in 2019, I hope this will change your mind. It’s not worth doing more damage to your body and how you feel about yourself.
How about resolving to find out how to be happier? Or to help other people? Or to find some way to make a difference in the world? Any of these will have a more positive effect on your health and how you feel about yourself than attempting to lose weight, I promise this is true!
* This is a very simplistic explanation and I realize there’s much more to it. When I refer to the body and its job, I’m aware that much of it is being controlled by lower parts of the brain. When I refer to the mind in this context, I am mainly referring to the prefrontal cortex, where consciousness lives.
** I am not against weight loss. I just know we aren’t in control of it, our body is, and when we interfere the outcome is almost always gaining even more weight.