Stop trying to lose weight.
I know this seems a bit counterproductive if you have a weight loss goal, but let me explain. We unfortunately live in a world where being thin is glorified, and anything other than being thin is wrong.
While yes being overweight can be detrimental to your health, so can being underweight. Being underweight can cause just as many health issues, However, this is never really spoken about. You are automatically assumed to be healthy if you are in a smaller body, often complimented and applauded for it, without a second thought.
This leads to those of us who don’t fit into that “ideal” body shape constantly striving to be there. How many of you reading this are currently looking to lose weight? What does that involve for you? Have you been on a diet for weeks, months, or years? Are you any closer to that goal? Or do you know what the goal even is?
Do you see exercise as a means to achieve your weight loss goal? As a punishment for eating too much or eating the wrong foods? Is it something that causes pain and discomfort?
A quick Google showed results of diet failure rates from anything as much as one-third to 95%! Yet you will find at certain times of the year everyone is ready to jump back on the wagon. Many of these diets demonise certain foods and sometimes even whole food groups, leading to a whole range of other issues, including digestive problems and food anxiety.
Diets can also have strict calorie allowances which lead people to be underfeuled. Have you ever been really snappy and cranky and then had something to eat and felt better? Hanger is real. ( Believe me, you do not want to be around me when I’m hungry!) These low calories goals can result in you feeling like that all day for days and weeks at a time. No wonder we often crack after a few weeks.
Another problem with this view is instead of seeing food as something that nourishes your body, by labelling it “good and bad”, you end up making eating far more stressful than it needs to be. When you refer to a certain food as bad, can you actually say what makes it “bad”? Like honestly ask yourself what actually makes it “bad”.
If it’s high in calories, what about that is a bad thing? Sure we don’t want to have surplus calories all the time but does that make it bad? Calories are a unit of energy, we need calories to survive.
If it contains fat, is that a bad thing? Fat is important for our production of hormones, it helps our neurons transmit messages around our body, again surplus fat isn’t ideal but it’s not bad to have it, in fact, cutting it out completely can impair cognitive function.
What about sugar? First off, no it is not addictive. If you crave sugar a lot, it often means you are either not eating enough or not sleeping enough. Your body is crying out for some quick energy. Sugar is our simplest and easiest absorbed form of energy. Every carbohydrate broken down to its most basic molecules are sugar. I repeat sugar is not addictive.
Now onto exercise. Many people will tell you that they don’t like exercise, or they don’t like the gym, and for some people that is true. How many of these people view exercise as a means to an end to get to a weight loss goal? Or again a punishment for eating “bad” food?
If you are a horse rider, you exercise all the time. Horse riding is very physical and everything to do with those animals is damn heavy, so do you really hate exercise? Or is it the horrible way it is presented to you?
What if exercise could allow you to move better? Or not ache so much? Would that make you view it better? Maybe you need to change what you call it, could you refer to it as movement instead of exercise? Or something similar that works for you.
Personally, I chased weight loss for years. At my lowest weight, I was 46 kg. At the time I thought I looked great but now I look back and realise how unhealthy I really was. I was barely eating. Doing excessive amounts of cardio and going through a really tough time. It wasn’t sustainable and it didn’t last. I’m currently 12kg heavier than that first pic and I’m strong, fit and don’t worry about what I eat so much anymore.
I think It was maybe 3-4 years ago when I finally just trained to train. Seeing what my body can do instead of punishing myself for what I’ve eaten. I love lifting heavy and challenging myself. Since I changed my outlook, I’ve been the most consistent with my training, more balanced with my eating and barely even look at the scales. I even enjoy all the “bad” foods regularly without feeling guilty.
So if you’ve been chasing weight loss for a time with no results maybe try something else
Instead of dieting – Try this instead.
- Add more fruit and veg to your meals, they are a great way to bulk out meals without adding a load of calories, plus they’re full of nutrients so win-win!
- Focus on getting more protein into your diet, this will keep you fuller for longer while helping your body grow and repair its cells.
- Drink more water (seriously drink the damn water doesn’t matter if you add cordial into it just drink water!)
Instead of training for weight loss set yourself a goal –
- Do you want to run 5km or 10km?
- Do a full press-up, unassisted chin-up?
- Walk the Camino?
- Compete at a high-level event or maybe even your first event?
You can choose anything that will get your focus away from weight loss and onto something that you can actually measure/achieve. Even if it’s a big goal that seems impossible, you can set mini goals along the timeline and these little wins will help keep you motivated to keep going.
Often when we move away from chasing weight loss and instead chasing different goals, weight loss is a by-product. However, when you feel better about yourself from eating more nutrients or achieving that fitness goal, you probably won’t even care anymore.
This is not something that happens overnight. It takes time to unlearn all the ideas that we’ve been fed for years by the fitness/diet industry in order to keep people coming back and giving them more money. It’s obvious they don’t work though, if they did you wouldn’t have to keep coming back.
Yes, it is hard to try something new. We like to default back to the old ways of doing things because we know what to expect, but as the saying goes “Nothing ever grows in the comfort zone” So are you ready to grow? Or do you want to keep repeating the cycle?