Weight Loss Journey: Destination Misery
Katy Harvey, RD, CEDRD
I was sitting in my doctor's office today and the waiting room TV was playing the typical daytime talk shows. I happened to overhear the hosts interviewing a guest who detailed her "weight loss journey." I felt a twinge of sadness for her, and for all the people whose ears perked up because they were dying to know how she was losing weight so they could indulge in the fantasy themselves.
The reason these "weight loss journey" stories are so popular across all forms of media is because they speak to the longing that we all have for happiness. Think about it - we are constantly seeing these stories on TV, in magazines, on social media. There's a reason they keep running these stories - people like them. They are literal and metaphorical "click bait."
Why can't we resist weight loss stories?
Because they speak to our souls. They are a modern-day fairy tale about what life could be like "if only" we lost weight. It's similar to people who play the lottery despite the astronomical odds against them winning big. Most of us also have an "if only" fantasy about what life would be like if we were rich.
Behind both of these "if only" fantasies is the assumption that life would somehow be more manageable if we were thin and/or rich. As if this would either eliminate some of our problems, or make them more manageable.
But the truth is, our problems don't go away if we weigh less or have more money. That's not an appealing story for the media to sell though.
Thinness = a better life?
Letting go of your attempts to maintain a lower weight is a terrifying prospect for people who have spent a considerable amount of time and energy on such.
You are being asked to give up your fantasy for a better life that is contingent upon thinness. What you can't yet see, though, is that you CAN have a better life when they learn to live at peace with your body, regardless of weight.
The process of trying to control your weight is exhausting because it goes against your body's natural biology. The longer and harder that you try to fight against your body, the harder your body will fight back. It's an exhausting battle.
Chronic dieters and people with eating disorders aren't happy. Their "weight loss journey" is making them miserable. They are unable to enjoy food without guilt, their mood is dependent on the scale, they use exercise as a way to burn calories - even if it feels like torture.
And with all of that, achieving the "goal weight" isn't all it's cracked up to be. Most people who get there will tell you that it still wasn't low enough, or that it was so impossible to maintain that it was short-lived. The fantasy continues... that if they could just do it better then they would arrive at their journey's destination.
Re-routing your journey to a better life
I promise you that the better life can exist if you let go of trying to control your weight. At the same time, I understand how terrifying that suggestion is.
Consider this - what would it be like to wake up and not worry about whether you had gained or lost weight from the day before?
What would it be like to get dressed from a closet of clothes that all fit you at your current weight? And if the clothes were all things that you liked and felt good in?
What would it be like to eat several times per day without guilt? To choose foods based on what sounds good and what will give you the energy you need?
What would it be like to exercise because it made you feel good?
What would it be like to go out to eat with your friends, order what you wanted, eat without over or undereating, and have an amazing time socializing?
What would it be like to live your life free from obsessing about your body?
That sounds like a better life to me.
Katy Harvey, RD is a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) from Kansas City. She has an outpatient private practice where she helps individuals heal their relationship with food, exercise and their body. She also blogs at Katy’s Blog.