A follower once sent me a message that went something like this:
“Victoria, I love the idea of what you teach and I think that you’re really onto something with the whole needing to make peace with your body before you can lose weight. But seriously, let’s be real. I am overweight, I feel uncomfortable in my body and it’s absolutely ridiculous to completely let go of the desire to lose weight. I want to lose weight and that’s never going to change! Does this mean I’m screwed? Surely there’s a way to make this all work and lose weight too.”
She hit the same point that we ALL hit somewhere on this journey to food freedom and body confidence (usually a couple of weeks in…and then again a couple of months in):
“Ok… great. Yeah, stop wanting to lose weight. Makes sense. But….seriously?!?!?!?! NO!”
This reaction is normal and I’d like to dig further into why it’s ok to struggle with the desire to lose weight but also why keeping weight loss as your goal is NOT going to help you heal your relationship with food and your body.
So let me back up a bit.
I started writing this because I’ve actually been thinking about weight-loss myself quite a lot lately.
Things in my life have really been shaken up recently, and so the thought of going on a diet to lose weight really appealed to me.
This was a clear and immediate sign to get real with how I feel and to explore my feelings.
It was obvious that I was clinging to the safety of controlling my body because I felt out of control in other areas of my life.
The desire to lose weight is a sign that there’s a feeling floating around somewhere that I’m not letting myself feel. And the sooner I can acknowledge and explore that feeling, the sooner I can step out of the seduction of dieting.
And for the record, even though it’s been 2 years since I gave up dieting, I still struggle with the desire to diet and lose weight sometimes.
I think the desire is normal because this is life and it’s full of twists and turns. Life will never go as planned, and so I don’t think the desire to lose weight will ever go away forever. It may leave for long periods of time (wahoo!) but there’s a good chance that it will come back during times of distress.
When that happens, it’s important to remember that wanting to lose weight is OK! It’s how you react to the desire that makes the difference.
We live in a society where we are bombarded by messages that say, “If you’re thin, you’ll be happy. If you’re pretty, you’ll get what you want. And if you’re not thin and pretty, that’s why you’re miserable.”
These are false messages, but they’re everywhere, and they get stuck in our belief system.
So, yeah. Wanting to lose weight when you’re unhappy is soooo freakin’normal!
Now, what can you do about it?
You can learn to recognize the desire to lose weight as the same thing as attempting to control, numb, and distract from your feelings. And then, instead of focusing on food and diet and weight, choose to sit with and feel those feelings instead.
I have practised feeling my feelings enough times over the last 2 years to know that any desire to diet is an attempt to disconnect from myself and my feelings. As human’s we like to seek pleasure and avoid pain so it’s only naturaly that this is difficult.
So instead of creating a shipping list full of “good foods” that will help me lose weight, I’m choosing to spend my evening lying on my bed, feeling completely out of control.
It sucks, but that’s what we’re signing up for.
Make space for the feelings to coexist with you, and it will take the compulsion out of the desire to diet and lose weight.
This is the harder thing to do because it means paying attention to myself and feeling paralyzed. But it also helps me skip the whole vicious cycle of the restrict/binge pattern.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, if you embark on this journey and find that you still desperately want to lose weight or hop back on another diet, that’s normal. The desire to lose weight — in this image-obsessed society — is absolutely normal.
Our work here together is to feel the fear and do it anyway. Remember, the only way to the other side is through.
The only way to food freedom and true body confidence is learning how to continue to chose healing over the temptation of another diet. To chose to heal over anything else that you are drawn in to.
It’s okay to want to lose weight. The change happens in that space between thought and action. We can desire weight loss, but as long as we don’t abandon ourselves (by going on another diet, because remember diest don’t work longterm – you know this!) and instead hold space for these feelings, we will be alright.
We’ll be more than alright. We’ll be on the straightest path I know towards becoming a whole-hearted, courageous, badass who can feel any feeling without being swept away by it — and also doesn’t binge her face off every day and feel shit about it.
My clients ask me a lot about weight loss when we first start working together…
“I’m ready to give up dieting but will I eventually still be able to lose weight?”
My answer is always the same… You need to let go of the idea of weight loss and accept that your body WANTS you to be healthy and comfortable. Your body will find it’s natural healthy set point weight if you stop trying to control it. If you’re currently binging regularly then when you learn how to let go of that (through our coaching), you will almost indefinitely lose weight. However, this is a process…
I keep saying, ‘the only way to the other side is through’ and as hard as this is, you need to let go of the desperate hope of weight-loss because if you don’t, you won’t be able to truly commit to the healing process. When we learn how to let go and surrender to what will be will be, THAT’S when the magic happens.
This is hard work, but it’s THE work.
The only work you need to feel normal around food and reclaim your life.