The concept of intuitive eating and its relationship with weight gain is a topic often surrounded by differing opinions. Traditional intuitive eating principles emphasize the necessity of completely setting aside thoughts about weight loss to attain true food freedom. However, for those individuals who have spent a significant portion of their lives obsessively pondering weight and weight loss, making such a shift can be challenging. This should not deter you from embracing an intuitive eating lifestyle.
Instead of insisting that weight loss must be entirely off the table to adopt intuitive eating, we can consider a different approach. What if we merely place the idea of weight loss on the back burner? It remains a thought, but it is no longer our central focus.
Why Focusing Primarily On Weight Loss Could Hurt More Than It Helps
Here are three compelling reasons why emphasizing weight loss as our primary focus may ultimately hinder us:
1. Momentary Change: When our primary goal is weight loss, our efforts often lead to momentary changes. We exhibit self-control to resist a tempting dessert after dinner, and this momentarily bolsters our sense of success. Yet, as the calendar turns to a new day, we find ourselves facing the same struggle again. In contrast, adopting a lifestyle where we choose to have or skip dessert based on our feelings doesn’t create momentary upheaval. Instead, we are merely living our lives without the constant back-and-forth.
2. At Odds with Long-Term Progress: Weight-focused goals frequently set us on a yo-yo journey. Once we reach the desired weight, maintaining it can become increasingly difficult. This happens because weight-based goals are primarily about looking a certain way. On the other hand, transforming your lifestyle is about feeling a certain way. The commitment to changing your lifestyle, rather than fixating on the number on the scale, significantly impacts your long-term progress. Weight loss goals can inadvertently create an ongoing cycle of restraint, achievement, and relapse.
3. Postponing Happiness: The pursuit of weight loss often fosters the “Once I reach my goal weight, THEN I’ll be happy” mindset. This mindset sets up an “either-or” conflict. You are either successful when you achieve your goal weight or a failure when you don’t. Falling in love with the process, rather than the end product, eliminates the need to postpone happiness. When you prioritize how you feel, nourishing your body in a way that feels good and engaging in activities that bring you joy, your weight naturally falls into place.
So what do you do if you want to lose weight?
I’m not against weight loss, but I am against making it the central focus of your life because health encompasses far more than a number on the scale. So, if you do wish to lose weight, consider shifting your focus from the numbers and redirecting it toward your behaviors. Weight isn’t a behavior; instead, focus on actions like drinking more water, having meals at the table, getting adequate sleep, and managing emotions without resorting to food.
The idea of redirecting our focus from weight loss doesn’t necessitate the complete elimination of weight-related thoughts. Instead, we can choose to put them on the back burner. What should be our primary focus is how we want to feel, and our actions should align with that. By nourishing our bodies in ways that feel good and engaging in activities that bring joy, our weight will naturally take care of itself. This approach encourages sustainable change and fosters a healthier relationship with both food and our bodies, emphasizing overall well-being over the relentless pursuit of a number on the scale.
Must Read Books To Improve Body Image
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The Body Is Not An Apology By Sonya Renee Taylor
The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world–for us all.
What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon
Advancing fat justice and changing prejudicial structures and attitudes will require work from all people. What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat is a crucial tool to create a tectonic shift in the way we see, talk about, and treat our bodies, fat and thin alike.
Body Talk by Katie Sturino
With Body Talk, an illustrated guide-meets-workbook, Sturino is here to help you stop obsessing about your body issues, focus on self-love, and free up space in your brain for creative and productive energy. Complete with empowering affirmations, relatable anecdotes, and actionable takeaways, as well as space to answer prompts and jot down feelings and inspirations, Body Talk encourages you to spend less time thinking about how you look and what you eat and more time discovering your inner fierceness.
More Than A Body by Lindsay and Lexie Kite
From media consumption to health and fitness to self-reflection and self-compassion, Lindsay and Lexie share powerful and practical advice that goes beyond “body positivity” to help readers develop body image resilience—all while cutting through the empty promises sold by media, advertisers, and the beauty and weight-loss industries. In the process, they show how facing your feelings of body shame or embarrassment can become a catalyst for personal growth.
The Body Of Truth by Harriet Brown
The quest for health and wellness has never been more urgent, yet most of us continue to buy into fad diets and unattainable body ideals, unaware of the damage we’re doing to ourselves. Through interviews, research, and her own experience, Brown not only gives us the real story on weight, health, and beauty, but also offers concrete suggestions for how each of us can sort through the lies and misconceptions and make peace with and for ourselves.
Landwhale by Jes Baker
A deeply personal take, Landwhale is a glimpse at life as a fat woman today, but it’s also a reflection of the unforgiving ways our culture still treats fatness, all with Jes’s biting voice as the guide.