Shifting our focus away from intentional weight loss and toward supporting our well-being can lead to freedom from the chains of dieting, body hate and so much more. Here’s how…
Can you imagine what it would feel like to stop obsessing about your weight, constantly trying to lose weight and/or changing your body?
I stopped weighing myself over a year ago, and it’s been life-changing. Yep, I have no idea how much I weigh, and it’s totally blissful. When I stopped weighing myself and stopped intentionally trying to lose weight, I began to trust and appreciate my body more and I started to feel more peace with food. I also started to nourish my body more and enjoy food more.
Here’s why I’m an advocate of ditching the scale and ditching intentional weight loss….
When we’re obsessed with weight and changing our body, we can’t have a positive relationship with food or our body.
Notice how your body feels when you get up in the morning. Then notice what feelings come up when you weigh yourself. How does weighing yourself change the way you feel about your body? How does your behavior change throughout the day because you know that number? Food restriction, working out harder?
Intentional weight loss doesn’t improve our body image. It increases a fixation on food and our body.
A peaceful and health-promoting relationship with food is based on self-care, not self-control. When we’re constantly trying to control the food we eat, we become disconnected from giving our body what it needs.
As women, our bodies go through four different phases a month – follicular, ovulation, luteal and menstrual. We need different nourishment, levels of activity and self-care during each phase. Our bodies also change day-t0-day based on how much sleep we’ve had, how stressed we are, how full our schedule is, how much physical activity we’ve had and so much more.
When we’re sticking to a diet that prescribes a certain amount of points or calories or macronutrients or that forbids certain foods, we can no longer tune in to how our bodies actually feel and what our bodies really need.
Diets also demonize food making it impossible to actually enjoy eating. I’ve seen memes that say – food is fuel, not pleasure. Why can’t we experience pleasure from food? There are so many amazingly delicious foods to eat!
It’s been a long time since I dieted, but I’m still practicing allowing myself to eat foods that I had made off limits because of dieting. My husband and I recently went to a fast food taco place that we like. I realized that I always order the same skinny chicken tacos or skinny bean burrito or skinny taco salad. I do like them, but I asked myself why I always order from the skinny menu. That day, I asked myself what I truly wanted to eat. I ordered nachos. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever ordered nachos for myself. I savored every bite and felt satisfied.
We’re allowed to eat food that isn’t nutrient dense because we want to experience pleasure from eating.
Feeling more comfortable in our bodies is about healing, not pushing our bodies more.
It may seem easier to join a 21-day fitness challenge that promises weight loss and flat abs than to start the practice of respecting your body more, but the latter allows you to have a more positive relationship with your body.
When we workout because we hate what we see in the mirror, we’ll always stay in the cycle of body criticism, create a weight loss workout plan, fail plan, feel unworthy, start over. You may also be doing workouts you hate because your goal is to change your body. I hear people say things like, “I should really start running because that’s how I see results the fastest.” If you hate running, you’re going to struggle to do it, hate doing it and have all kinds of negative energy around it. It will be so difficult to stick to running consistently.
When we begin to look at our body story – the history of why you feel the way you feel about your body – and begin a practice of self-acceptance and body respect, we can start to feel better in the body that we have in this moment.
This can help us to connect to our bodies more and cultivate a positive relationship with movement. It gives us permission to move our bodies in ways that actually feel good.
When I stopped working out to lose weight, I started practicing yoga more, doing Pilates, hiking and going on long walks while listening to audio books or podcasts. I love doing all of these things because they’re fun and they make me feel good in my body.
Giving up weighing ourselves, dieting and weight-loss focused workouts doesn’t mean we no longer care about our health. It’s the opposite, in fact. It allows us to become more aware of how we feel, how we want to feel and what our bodies need.
An important reminder is that weight is not an indicator of health. Our body size is not an indicator of health. Health and well-being includes physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional and intellectual aspects. This is why my health coaching programs focus on helping women create self-care practices that make them feel nourished, mind, body and soul.
Ask yourself this – Would I still do this even if it wouldn’t impact my weight in any way?
If the answer is no, maybe it’s time to stop that workout, eating that food, being on that diet, etc.
What’s a self-care practice you could implement that has nothing to do with weight control?
To discover how you can ditch dieting, shift your focus from weight to health, heal your relationship with food, find more balance, and nourish you body from the inside out, take my quiz here.
To find out more about my health coaching programs, click here.