We’ve talked a lot about how to lose weight around here, why diets don’t work and what to do instead. And while we’ve covered the physical side of things many times, I wanted to talk about the emotional side of things today.
Because really, that’s the more important stuff.
When we tend to this side of things, it usually has a bigger, positive impact on our lives than weight loss ever could. And an added bonus, is that it typically helps you do that too.
If we have the wrong mindset, if we’re constantly putting ourselves down, if we don’t do the work on loving ourselves or changing the things in our lives that lead us astray in the first place, it’s going to be that much harder to lose weight – and to keep it off.
Usually, our weight isn’t the real problem anyway. Our weight is a symptom of the real problem.
Sure, we have to change our food, eat less processed junk, more greens and healthy fat and fewer carbohydrates, but none that is going to matter if you’re miserable and being a bitch to yourself all the time.
If you’re not changing the parts of your life that are making you feel down in the dumps or doing the work to quiet that nasty voice in your head, what do you want to lose weight for anyway? It won’t make you any happier.
You see, back when I was struggling so hard with all of this, I was so entirely focused on fixing my ‘weight problem’, and blaming it for all that was wrong in my life (i.e. being sad, single and feeling like a dope) that I failed to see the bigger picture.
I’d spent the past few years partying and pretending I didn’t care about anything because I was so sad about losing my dad that I couldn’t deal with real life. I knew I wasn’t going to be good at it (at life, I mean) because I didn’t care anymore. So I figured, why bother? I felt like nothing mattered, so that’s the way I behaved and those were the results I was seeing.
- Loved my friends but I hated our living arrangement.
- Despised my job for stifling my creativity and enthusiasm for life.
- Was in credit card debt because I didn’t know how to manage my finances and it was a lingering black cloud of stress following me around.
- Had an overstuffed closet of clothes I hated that made me feel fat.
- And wasn’t taking care of my body very well.
I was stuck in a life that wasn’t doing it for me and I didn’t know how to change it. And on the surface, I was just “normal”. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t accept things the way they were.
Those were the real problems, not my weight. Those were the challenges I needed to face. But instead, I distracted myself with dieting and exercising because I figured if I could just lose the ten pounds, then I’d be happy. And once I was happy, I could figure the rest out.
Life doesn’t work that way though, does it?
No. Being happy leads to weight loss, not the other way around.
Many times our attempts at weight loss, before moving on the real stuff, are convenient distractions so that we don’t have to go about the hard work of actually changing our lives.
I’ll start dating when I lose ten pounds type of stuff.
But really, waiting on the weight keeps you safe sometimes, doesn’t it? If you’re not dating because you feel fat, well at least you won’t be rejected. (Dating is just one example.)
I’m writing this today because we get so many emails from you ladies telling us about what you’re struggling with, mostly your weight. But those emails also tend to pull the curtain back just a peep and reveal a bit more. We see you back there.
It’s your weight but, it’s also this, or that, or the other thing.
It’s your weight but also….
And what I’m trying to say today is that it’s not your weight, although you might want to change it. It’s this or that or the other thing.
It’s the ‘also’ that’s tripping you up.
I firmly believe that our weight is a warning signal that something’s off and needs to be tended to. And what I’m saying is that, in my own life, I’ve found that until you go tend to that something, nothing is going to change.
For me back then, that meant:
- Going to therapy every Wednesday night for a year to deal with my grief
- Getting a new apartment and moving even though it was more expensive
- Cutting back on spending and using my entire bonus to pay off my credit card debt even though it felt like a gigantic punch in the gut
- Going through my closet piece by piece and letting go of everything that didn’t fit
- Investigating new ideas for a career and testing them out
- Letting go of more than one shitty friend
- Learning about wellness and personal development so I could take care of myself
It was a lot of work. And the work continues today. But once I started dealing with my real challenges everything shifted.
I started feeling happy and hopeful again. I stopped obsessing about food and losing weight. I was starting to live a cooler life and becoming the person I actually wanted to be. You know, the kind of person who loves motivational quotes and shit. And I eventually lost all of the weight.
And if you’ll notice, not much on that list had to do with calories and exercise.
So I’d just like to ask you today, what is your real challenge? Because if you’ve been struggling and failing at losing weight, we bet there’s something else going on. Something that has nothing to do with salad and Soul Cycle and matcha lattes.
So tell us, what is it?
Oh and if you are interested in the physical side of things too, here, check out our free cleanse while you’re at it. Facing the real challenges and eating healthier go hand in hand around here.
Also published on Medium.