‘I want to lose weight.’

‘I need to lose a few kilos.’

‘I have to get rid of my wobbly tummy/thighs’

As we move into the last month of winter, some of us are thinking about shedding those comfort kilos which we tried and failed to keep off.

But before you jump on the latest diet bandwagon and sign up to a new gym, I want you to think about your real motivation for weight loss.

I love working with people and I really love helping them achieve their goals. But when I meet a new client I often find we don’t see eye to eye when it comes to weight loss. Not to say that I’m starting fights with everyone who walks through my door, but what the client sees as their main problem, I’m not always so worried about. I see something else as a bit more important. Particularly when it comes to their weight. They might say to me ‘I just want to lose the last few kgs’ or ‘I have a lot of weight to lose’. But the question I want to ask is ‘Why?’ (Of course, I ask with a bit more tact).

I want to get to the crux of  ‘why is this important to you?’. Realistically, what would be the result of losing this weight? What are your expectations of what that will be like?

The reason I can’t leave it at ‘I just want to lose weight’ is because there is always more to it than that. Without a true, non-superficial reason for wanting to lose weight, motivation will wane when the going gets tough (and it will get tough).

More importantly, if you ask yourself why a few more times you might find that weight isn’t actually the issue. Is weight loss what you really want? Or is weight loss the means to achieving something else?

I firmly believe that the number on the scales has less to do with our happiness and wellbeing than we think.

The pursuit of weight loss in order to be happy and healthy is the reverse of how we should be looking at it. Instead, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is the bonus  bi-product of  being happy and healthy. Weight loss only occurs through the building of healthy and positive habits.

So, if you are wanting to drop some kilos, ask why 5 times to get to the bottom of the issue.

Here’s one that I prepared earlier:

‘I want to lose weight.’

Why?

‘So that I can wear a bikini at the beach this year.’

Why?

Because I have never been able to wear one before.

Why?

Because I never felt comfortable with what I looked like.’

Why?

Because I was comparing myself to how other girls looked in a bikini.’

Why?

‘Because I thought the other girls had it so ‘together’, whereas I’m so awkward and down on myself.’

Really questioning yourself like this isn’t easy. It was uncomfortable for me to write that down and it’s a little uncomfortable to share. But they say all the magic happens outside your comfort zone. Once you know what’s really driving you, you can either tap into that motivation to make healthy choices or you can address what the real issue is.

What’s your real reason for weight loss?

Here are some of the common, underlying reasons that drive people to want to lose weight, and  some ways you can shift your perspective from just weight loss to positive and healthy habits.

Health and longevity

Feeling good and living a long and full life are amazing motivators. I have several client’s who really don’t want to be taking medication and that is a driver enough to act on healthy food habits each day. Associating food and exercise with feeling good and doing your body a favour is a great way to develop a positive relationship with food and your body. 

How do I shift my perspective?

  • When looking at food choices think about what benefit that food is giving you.
  • Take 3 deep breaths before eating and listen to your body.
  • When you have a craving ask yourself – what is my body asking for and will this honestly hit the spot?

Appearance and self esteem

Have you ever noticed the way that you talk to yourself. Are the things that you say to yourself  things that you would say to your best friend? … Probably not! So why is it okay to talk to ourselves that way? And how much truth is there to what we are saying?

For a lot of people this sort of negative self talk is linked to weight and a number on the scales. But we are the only people who create that link. If appearance and self esteem are your deep, genuine motivators for weight loss it might be worth starting from that issue. Start by developing a positive relationship with yourself and let weight loss follow. 

How do I shift my perspective?

  • Start focusing on the positive – the more we make note of the positive the more we notice the positive.
  • Write down 1-2 positive things about yourself each day. Something you have achieved. Something physical. 
  • Write down your thoughts for 1 week. Highlight the ones that are negative. Logically assess how true they are. Write down an alternative statement that is more true and more positive.

Happiness and success

After asking myself why so many times I kinda realised that weight loss and being able to wear a bikini is less about looking good and more about sorting my life out. I envisaged that being a size 8 would indicate that all the other parts of my life would be in place. But logically I know that won’t be the case.

There is no physiological link between a number on the scales and happiness. The associations we see between weight and happiness or unhappiness occur because of the value that we place on being a particular weight.

With this in mind, it’s clear to see that losing weight isn’t necessarily going to make you feel happier. When you have lost a kilogram, you will not automatically get more dopamine (a neural-transmitter involved in the reward centre of the brain).

Losing weight won’t make your calendar less full. It won’t make your job less stressful. It won’t make your friends act differently. So addressing these things is just as important, if not more so, than eating well and exercising. 

How do I shift my perspective?

  • Write down 1-2 positive things that happened each day.
  • Write down the things that are worrying you and brainstorm some possible solutions
  • Look at your exercise as a chance to decompress rather than something you have to do to lose weight.
  • Ask yourself ‘If weight were not an issue- what would I be doing?’. Go do that!

I am not, by any means, trying to convince you that weight loss isn’t worth it. But I am confident that weight loss is the bi-product of a healthy and positive lifestyle, and not the goal itself. Once you figure out what your true concern or motivator is, then you can start to lose weight in the way that you intend to maintain it.

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