3 Reasons Why You're Holding Out for Weight LossSep 07, 2020
Weight loss is a set up. It’s an impossible and unrealistic goal for most dieters who cling to the idea that being thin is the golden ticket to solving life’s problems. Not only will you be “healthy” and happy, but you’ll be better looking, and even richer, too.
Scrolling through YouTube, I came across an interview with someone I admire. This influencer runs an 8-figure business, has a loving relationship and family, and is known by all to be a kind and generous person.
The main feature of the video addresses her weight loss and improved body image. She confesses to “getting healthy” and losing weight because she fears that being fat would be the downfall of her business. As someone who shows up often on social media and is the face of her own business, she thought people would only buy from her if she was thin.
Towards the end of the talk, she describes working hard to embrace her size “no matter what.” Yet, she admits to continuing to diet until she achieves her goal weight. While presented as a success story, it missed the mark. I walked away feeling sad and disappointed, yet not surprised.
Her story is told over and over again by countless other women (mostly) who are taught that their worth – including in dollars – is determined by their body size. Of course, this is compounded by race, age, ability, economic status and other marginalized statuses.
So, if the story around worth, value and weight is so harmful, then why do so many buy into it?
The 3 main reasons for clinging to the vision of weight loss
1. The desire for thin privilege
We’re socialized to believe that thinness itself is the dream, but it really isn’t. It’s what thinness can do that is actually strived for.
Underlying the thought that being thin will solve every problem is the desire to have more ease and access in life. Because this social access is only reserved for smaller and thin bodies, its actually thin privilege that is the consequence of thinness.
That means that the privileging of thin bodies over larger or fat bodies creates body size discrimination, weight stigma and fat oppression. The root of this is fatphobia.
We have no control over our race, age, sexual orientation, height, shoe size or other characteristics. Yet, we are socialized to believe we are completely responsible for the size of our bodies.
The diet and beauty industries promote this idea in exchange for a hefty profit, and it’s even reflected in the health care system. Thinness is framed as “healthy,” and losing weight is encouraged as something you do “for your health.”
The truth is, weight does not determine health.
Health is not one-dimensional. It is the result of many intersectional factors ranging from genetics to the environment, economics, social inequities, and beyond.
Even if weight did indicate health (which it doesn’t), there is no scientifically proven safe and effective way to lose weight and maintain it. And, since most who lose weight gain it all back, and more, any supposed health benefits would be lost.
Clinging to the hope of weight loss in order to receive privileges granted to thin bodies only perpetuates the privilege-and-oppression divide. When we no longer buy into this system of inequality, we discover no reason for dieting.
2. Wanting success and happiness
Along with thin privilege comes the belief that thinness is responsible for creating success and happiness. This means that wanting to lose weight is tied to the desire of attaining a “dream life.”
The story about weight loss success (and the content of so many vision boards) goes something like this...
Being thin is the start of creating a “new” life. Since reaching a goal weight produces a perfect body, next comes a greater sense of self-confidence as all body image issues magically disappear.
Because thinness means being attractive and sexually desirable, next comes the perfect relationship with an equally attractive (plus wealthy) partner. For some, happy and healthy kids follow.
Next comes the modern farmhouse forever home, the matching Range Rovers and beach vacations with a stylish new wardrobe. With an increased self-esteem, that dream job is finally a done deal.
Sound familiar? Here’s the truth...
Research by Jackson and colleagues (2014) finds that losing weight does not produce any psychological benefit. In other words, weight loss doesn’t make you any happier. Rather, dieting increases the risk for depression, binge eating and eating disorders, and lowers your self-esteem (Hazzard et al., 2020).
So, if thinness doesn’t actually make you any happier, then holding onto the hope of weight loss is a wasted effort with more risks than rewards.
Be happy NOW. Happiness doesn’t happen to you. It happens when you create the conditions for happiness to arise in your life, no matter what you weigh.
3. To avoid dealing with life in the present
Believing weight loss will manifest the “best life” means putting life on hold for a future that will likely never show up. It also means putting off experiences, adventures, and relationships that you can enjoy now.
Don’t let life pass you by.
Instead of waiting for weight loss, buy that outfit that you want at the size you are now. Get that hairstyle you’re waiting for, rekindle intimacy with your partner, and take that dream vacation, now.
Thinking that life will get better when you’re thin is a distraction from what’s happening in your life today.
It’s easy to blame something like weight or your body when you don’t like what’s happening in your life. In fact, we’re socialized to see fatness as bad, deficient or not good enough. Struggles and challenges then become about weight while the real reason why things aren’t so great gets overlooked.
Without confronting the root of the problem, change can’t be made. Because your body isn’t a problem to be solved, it means that the issues of life stem from something else, like your thoughts, beliefs and actions.
Since your body isn’t the problem, thinness can’t be the solution.
Once you let go of weight loss, you’re free to discover the real issues. Then, you have the power to make a positive change and work toward creating the life you want.
How to let go of hoping for weight loss
Letting go of the thought that “one day” you’ll lose weight and everything in life will fall into place results in two common experiences.
First, letting go triggers feelings of loss.
The quest to achieve the perfect body through dieting, a wellness plan or a healthy lifestyle isn’t an easy habit to break. Neither is having to confront a deep-rooted diet mindset and dreaming of thinness for decades.
When you finally decide to stop pursuing weight loss, you might even think you’re giving up on yourself. This is only a leftover voice of diet culture, and it’s far from the truth.
It’s at this moment when you show up for yourself, your happiness and your wellbeing.
That’s when the second experience emerges: a new sense of freedom and opportunity.
Now, you're beginning to realize new opportunities that you haven’t allowed yourself to consider before. Rather than being held down by dieting restrictions and food rules, you're free to dictate exactly how you want to relate to food, your body, and your life.
You are free to find a solution that actually works.
This is where intuitive eating steps in.
Intuitive eating works by healing your relationship to food and your body
Letting go of a history of dieting and believing that losing weight will solve your problems can be challenging. Fortunately, intuitive eating gives you the exact tools you need to address your struggles with food, helps you deal with the food police, and shows you how to navigate a new unconditional permission to eat.
Rather than feeling miserable and deprived, intuitive eating helps you restore your feelings of satisfaction and pleasure around food. Instead of feeling obsessed with food, intuitive eating puts you back in charge of when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat.
When you’re ready to stop wasting your time, energy and money on a future that hinges on the hope of thinness, you are ready to choose your own needs and desires.
When you’re ready to choose yourself over an idealized version of who you think you should be, intuitive eating can help you become who you were born to be.