You don’t need to lose weight. I get why you feel the desire to lose weight though. But wanting to lose weight is a response to something else going on in your life. Some external trigger or life circumstance that you’re trying to solve for by beginning a new diet/lifestyle. It’s not about your body though. It never was. Here are 4 coping strategies to try whenever you’re tempted to start a new diet.
The Real Reasons Behind Wanting to Lose Weight
The desire behind wanting to lose weight is triggered by something else going on in your life. Often feelings of discontent, shame, sadness, anger, unworthiness, anxiety, or—what I think is more common—feeling out of control in our lives or circumstances.
The rules and black-and-white thinking behind dieting gives us the perception that we’re in control. Counting calories, balancing macros and restricting food feels empowering for a moment. But it backfires.
We are actually in less control when we diet.
In these moments of wanting to lose weight, we should instead be focusing on our mental, emotional and environmental health. Not trying to lose weight.
4 Coping Strategies When You Feel the Desire to Lose Weight:
1. Consider what else in your life is affecting you. What’s making you feel out of control?
During times of chaos, stress and unknowing, we look to establish some kind of routine to anchor our day. This can be a great approach if we’re keeping to basic self-care routines such as showering, getting dressed, and eating proper meals. But when our solution to our internal spiral is to make external changes to our appearance, we can make matters worse.
Dieting can be used as a distraction or avoidance of our actual problems. We ignore what’s really going on around us in favor of micromanaging our food. The meal planning, tracking and guilt around food then adds more chaos and stress to our lives.
2. Identify triggers that are in your control and then get rid of them.
Sometimes our desire to lose weight comes from a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror. A pair of pants that don’t fit comfortably anymore. A number on the scale that seems high. Or even a fitness influencer’s Instagram post.
Any of these events can trigger feelings of not being good enough or looking thin enough. These triggers are all within your control though!
- Blame the clothes; not you. Clothes should fit you—you don’t need to fit them.
- Put on something comfortable instead.
- Treat yourself to new clothes that fit your current body.
- Get rid of the scale. Or, have a trusted loved one hide it from you and not tell you where it is.
- Audit your social media and unfollow anyone who makes you feel less-than.
- Actively ditch diet culture in other areas of your life including emails, magazines, frequently visited websites, memberships, subscriptions, etc.
3. Identify triggers that are not in your control or are difficult to change.
This is likely where a lot of the desires to lose weight are rooted. Bigger emotions and traumas that feel out of our control trigger a desire to gain control. Diet culture has done a great job of making us believe that we’ll finally get our lives together once we lose the weight. That’s not true though. It’s just a deep form of denial of our issues with food, fitness and body image.
Triggers that are not in your control include the basic human need to eat or the requirement of wearing clothes. These can’t be changed. But we can find ways to heal our relationship with food and body.
More difficult triggers to change include your financial situation, stressful job, marriage, experience with racism, living arrangements, etc. Instead of turning to diet though, learn new coping skills by asking for help (mental health professional or friend), shifting inner dialogue and/or considering if the harder things to change truly are worth sacrificing your mental health. Perhaps finding a new job is the real solution here (and no, you don’t need to lose weight to nail that interview!)
4. Prioritize your actual wellness.
Diet culture wants you to believe that getting thinner automatically means you’ll be healthier, but that simply isn’t true. Intentionally trying to lose weight isn’t part of your wellness. Prioritizing your actual wellness means developing behaviors that serve your individual body.
What behaviors actually make you feel good? Consider all 6 facets of your wellness (mental health, emotional health, environmental health, social health, spiritual health, and physical health) as you focus on:
- Getting adequate amount sleep
- Honoring your hunger, neutralizing food and eating satiating meals (Intuitive Eating)
- Engaging in movement you enjoy because it feels good; not because it will help you lose weight or gain muscle
- Social connections
- Validating your emotions
- Spending time in The Word, praying, or meditating
- …any other behavior that helps you take care of your mind and body
Your desire to lose weight is normal. But your health should be prioritized.
Your urge to lose weight is valid. I completely understand. But unless you’re willing to look inward as to why you think your weight loss is important, you’ll continue to be stuck.
If you’re ready to ditch diet culture but are struggling to do so, I created Gain Wellness, a 35-day self-paced workbook, to help you. Click the button below to purchase your copy today.