Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Forty to fifty percent of American women are trying to lose weight. One in four college-aged women has some kind of eating disorder. By age thirteen, 53% of young women are unhappy with their bodies.
I want you to read those statistics one more time.
That is millions of women that wake up every morning upset with the body they have and wishing they could change it. Moreover, those women may have been feeling that way for ten, twenty, or fifty years.
As a health and fitness professional, and as a woman, I find this absolutely unacceptable.
While I promote healthy decision making and habit forming, I believe that striving for a healthy lifestyle can and should happen while learning to love and appreciate your body.
In my experience when women report that they want to lose weight, what they are really saying is that they want to change the way they feel about their bodies. Below are just a few other translations for "I want to lose weight."
1. I want to feel confident
Many women believe that if they were to lose a certain amount of weight they would feel more confident in their personal and professional lives. If their clothes fit better or they were able to wear anything in their wardrobe with comfort, they would have that movie star confidence they've always wanted.
But what if that wasn't the only way to reach that level of confidence? What if you could learn to cultivate confidence while making minimal changes to your diet and exercise over time?
Confidence is a state of mind. Practicing gratitude, learning your personal strengths, and prioritizing self-care can do so much for your confidence. And in turn, it is those things that will help you adopt the habits needed to improve your physical health too.
The problem is the more aggressive diets and exercise plans you try and fail at, the lower your confidence becomes that you can lose weight.
As a health coach, I have helped clients lose weight but only as a larger, wholistic experience of getting to know themselves. They no longer need to attach confidence with a number on a scale.
2. My body size is preventing me from reaching my full potential
This is very much related to the confidence conversation but has a few important nuances. People often say that they would or could or should do something once they lose weight. So for years, they put off going on a beach vacation or dating or applying for a new job because they don't believe they can succeed because of their weight.
And while unfortunately, our country does have a bias against obesity, it should not prevent an individual from believing in and achieving their full potential. Losing weight will not guarantee you a better job or a happy life. So you have to take steps to become the best version of yourself and achieve your life goals - don't wait just because of your size.
People also believe that they are not deserving of their loftiest goals because of their weight. It goes back to confidence and overall acceptance and love for oneself. Moving past this barrier and toxic thinking will allow you the freedom of living a better life.
It's not the weight that is the issue - it's the habits you have formed that make you feel bad.
3. Thoughts about my weight take up too much of my brain
If you have struggled with weight and diet and exercise for years you may feel like these thoughts are on a loop in your head.
Women who tell me that they want to lose weight have ultimately just become sick of these thoughts taking up too much of their time and energy. They want to find a level of peace that allows them to just eat and exercise without it being such a huge ordeal.
And that is a perfectly achievable goal! It should be how we all live - prioritizing the things that really matter to us and bring us happiness. Think about everything you could achieve if you were to shut off the negative thoughts about your diet and your body and just focus on your to-do list for the day.
4. I don't deserve to be happy until I reach a societal standard of a healthy weight
I hate this, but it's a reality of our world. Many people, especially women, admit that they could not or should not be happy until they lose weight. Imagine that - spending the better part of your adult life keeping yourself from being happy simply based on your body mass.
We should all be striving to live happily, but weight cannot be the cornerstone of that happiness. Health, wellness, love, culture, family - those are types of things that can make a difference.
The Irony of The Situation
As soon as you stop caring so much about your weight and focus on your relationships, career, spirituality, and mental health you will likely lose weight.
Don't get me wrong, you can't replace all your meals with burgers and fries, but you can release the negative energy associated with food decisions.
Those with personal and professional satisfaction tend to be healthier. Prioritize caring for your mental and emotional health and your diet and exercise habits will follow. Eating good foods and moving your body will boost your mental health and naturally produce endorphins that make you want to keep making good decisions.
Wellness Over Weight Loss
Weight is just one measurement of physical health. There are so many other important physical, mental, and emotional components to health that will help you live a better life.
So if you are one of those people that have spent most of their life unhappy with their body and trying to lose weight, it's time for a new strategy.
If you're interested in exploring health coaching as a potential new solution, contact me, and I'd be happy to discuss it further.