A PSA about Body Weight
Here you go my friends. A PSA about weight during a very popular time many think about losing it. I’m seeing this thing happen where weight and health are getting confused and it’s causing people all sorts of angst….This has been sitting on my desktop as a Word doc for the last two weeks and I have been hesitant to post but it’s time to set it free…
On challenging assumptions, embracing paradoxes, and deeper work around body weight…
1.) Contrary to popular belief, losing weight is not synonymous with better health.
Weight loss can definitely be a RESULT of taking good or better care of oneself, but better health does not necessarily result in weight loss.
2.) If Weight loss alone resulted in better health, it wouldn’t matter how a person lost the weight, (illness, crash dieting, over-exercise, HCG injections, etc) but simply that they lost it. It would also be assumed that this person who lost weight would automatically have more health, vitality, energy, self-acceptance, and peace. Talk to any crabby, depleted dieter or food moralist/fundamentalist and see how untrue this actually is)
3.) Believing WEIGHT LOSS = BETTER HEALTH is actually a problematic belief that seduces many people into trying all sorts of dietary voodoo to lose weight in the name of “health.” They confuse body size or body fat with health. They, ironically, can become unhealthy in their approach TO it, yanking themselves through things, celebrating 4 lb loss victories but in doing so, may be re-enforcing the belief “I cannot trust myself or my body.” Not a fun way to live.
4.) Focusing on weight loss for the sake of weight loss alone is rarely ever enough “motivation” to create SUSTAINABLE changes because it’s loosely held up on a weak foundation of conditional self-acceptance. If you feel you won’t be able to accept yourself until you get rid of a part of yourself…well aren’t there sayings about that?
“The curious paradox is when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” – Carl Rogers
6.) Body size can, but does not necessarily, reflect eating habits. Just because a person lives in a larger body does not mean they eat more food or poorer quality food than those in smaller bodies. I am sure you know smaller bodied people who can “eat like a horse” and larger bodied people who eat relatively modestly. Leave room to challenge your assumptions.
7.) Many people won’t “lose the weight” until they create the inner shifts that support the outer ones. Often this requires deeper self-inquiry, making sure that weight loss is safe with all parts of you, and aligning with a sense of integrity in the process. I remember watching part of an episode of some weight loss reality show and it wasn’t until a participant went into therapy that he was able to let go of any remaining unneeded weight. Body fat does not exist out of physiological error. Our body often reflects what is going on in our inner world. (And then of course, it’s worth noting, there are people that are trying to lose weight when their body is perfectly happy and healthy at it’s current weight – more in #13)
8. There is no “right” way this eating or exercise thing looks. Anything can be done in the name of the sacred or profane. You can exercise from a place of self-loathing or a place of reverence. You can lay on the couch as a way to take good care or from a place of self-forgetting or neglect. Can you let go of moralism and really see what’s going on? It’s 100% okay to want to lose weight. It’s just as okay to not want to. You are free to your desires. This is more about what part of you exactly is in charge of making your decisions.
9.) For those who feel they cannot let go of the scale: If you stopped weighing yourself, what would you use to inform you whether or not you felt good that day? How about whether or not you felt good that day? Moving towards noticing what feels good (a bodily experience) is a practice with a ton of potential. Many layers to this…
10.) If you think this is all about food, and eating, and body weight it’s really not. By now I personally know that if I am feeling judgment about my body and I felt fine the day before, there is usually something else going on. If your body image often changes from one day to the next, get curious about that.
12.) Do not allow yourself to be seduced by magazines. They are not meant to help you. They are meant to exploit and reinforce your insecurities to ensure that you feel like you never quite stack up. On a larger scale this insecurity-induced fixation on the body cam keep you distracted from bigger things. Consider the number of industries that benefit from you feeling unsatisfied or disgusted with your own body.
13.) There are some things that are your job (like drinking water, getting adequate sleep, eating some vegetables, noticing how different food makes you feel, finding resources to support you in your life) and some things that are not your job (like deciding what your body’s healthiest weight is, or the desired ways your body and psyche invite you into healing, or the speed in which this occurs) Get clear about who is responsible for what. Do your part. Know when and where to let go of the reigns.
You want some edgy 2015 challenges?
- Get back into your body so much, that ultimately the wisest (eating) guru you will find will end up being you.
- Push back against inner and outer expectations of how it ‘should’ be. Ultimately, pushing back may not mean doing the opposite and rebelling. It’s about being guided by your own inner authority. That’s when you know you’re really free in this thing.
- Embrace the paradox: If you want to lose weight sustainably, make weight loss the secondary focus.
- Examine your own prejudices around body fat and see how they are helping no one, especially you.
- Be a little more radical in this whole thing. Be good to yourself no matter what. Especially when you feel you may not deserve it. If you can hang in there in that space, you’ll be face-to-face with the thing that really needs the healing in all of it.
Walking side by side with you on the journey…