What's really behind the weight-loss desire?


Katy Perry was on the Morning Show today and she was talking about how she has come to live fearless in the last couple of years.

This made me think just how much fear and threat weight-loss dieting brings to a person's life.

... Eat that "bad food" and you'll gain weight.
... If you don't exercise for more than X minutes you won't burn fat
... You can only fit in to that dream clothes once you're smaller.

These thoughts can be really scary for some people more than others. 

We live in a culture that constantly (mis)reports that fatness is unhealthy, reflects lack of self-care, and is socially less acceptable.

Well then of course weight-loss seems like the magic pill and "failing" a diet can seem like a death sentence to the vulnerable.

I (unfortunately) still come across many doctors who confidently speaks that "everything will be better when you lose weight".

God no.

"I want to lose weight" involves thoughts and feelings like, but not limited to:

  • "I want to become healthy"
  • "I feel sluggish / lacking in energy"
  • "I think my eating is out of control"
  • "I have episodes of bingeing / overeating"
  • "I don't feel that I'm active enough"
  • "I feel insecure"
  • "I don't feel loved in my current body"
  • "I feel inadequate"
  • "I'm not good enough if I can't control my body weight"

... the list goes on...

What happens, then, if we place the focus on weight loss when "I want to lose weight" is only a translation of something more deep and complicated?
We become blind to our life's values and miss the opportunities to truly connect with our deeper thoughts and feelings. 

Such connections are necessary to make in order to heal from unpleasant relationship with food and body.

Getting personal with your food and body relationship can be really uncomfortable.

So in a way, weight-loss diets seem to be 'easier' because you're just scraping the surface.

But we know that diets don't work.

In fact we know that dieting, or weight-loss focused interventions, create disordered eating patterns (which is a risk factor for then developing eating disorders), anxiety, and weight regain also known as yo-yo-dieting or weight cycling.
And weight cycling is a higher risk factor for cardiovascular disease than being naturally 'overweight' (as per the BMI categorisation)

We know that health can be achieved without losing weight regardless of one's initial body size.

What we need now is to disassociate weight from health and self-worth.
This has to be done at an individual level and at a social/cultural level.

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