Why do you want to lose weight? Anyone who has ever started a weight loss journey has probably had to answer that question. What will losing weight mean? What will it change? How will things in my life be improved?
For me, these questions have had many different answers throughout my life. When I was younger, I wanted to lose weight because someone told me that I should. Eventually, I wanted to lose weight because I would look better, it would make me happier, and I would feel better about myself if I lost the weight. I wanted to be good enough; I wanted to be happy.
Take a look at this picture of me and my dad:
This is a picture of me when I was 16 years old. I had lost 40 pounds and weighed in at 145; I am almost 5’6’’, so 145 is a healthy weight for me. I wore a comfortable size 9, and I had lowered my cholesterol to a healthy level. We were on a family vacation to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
I still thought I was fat.
I still thought I wasn’t good enough.
I still wore long sleeves and jeans even in the hot Dominican climate because I didn’t think I looked good enough; I was still embarrassed about my body. Heck, I’m wearing shorts over my bathing suit to hide my thighs!
I remember walking along these beautiful pathways at our resort in the Caribbean night breeze still worrying that I’d always be alone…and still thinking that if I just were thinner, a boy might like me. I worried about the things I ate on this trip; I was embarrassed to be seen eating ice cream from the free ice cream bar, because I just KNEW that people were thinking “that girl would be thin if she just didn’t eat things like that!”
Pictures from this time in my life have forced me to confront my reasons for losing weight. There is no denying that at that time, I had already lost the weight; I was at a solid, healthy weight. But, losing weight didn’t give me what I was looking for. Losing weight did not solve everything for me. In fact, there are many things that losing weight won’t ever do for me.
Losing weight will never make me good enough. There is nothing about my appearance that could ever determine whether or not I am good enough for anything or anyone.
Losing weight will never give me a healthy relationship with food. It will not make food into JUST food for me; it will not make me into someone who has never struggled with my weight. My relationship with food must be addressed outside of my weight loss.
Losing weight will not make me beautiful.
Losing weight will not fix the turmoil in my relationships. I cannot control things in life that are beyond my control just by losing weight (or trying to become perfect).
And losing weight will never make me perfect.
So, why do I want to lose weight? What will it change?
The accepted answer is that losing weight will make me healthier, and that is true. I have seen drastic changes in my health as I have lost weight. I do want to lose weight and be healthier in order to give my children a good chance of a healthy start at life…and to hopefully keep myself here for as long as they need me.
But, to be honest, at this point in my weight loss journey, losing weight has edged out of the “big picture” as I have addressed all of the above issues in my life and developed healthy relationships with food, my body, and myself.
As I have accepted what losing weight will NOT do, I have started looking outside of food (and weight) for my answers and solutions, and that has made all the difference.