We can all agree that losing weight is the most common New Year’s Resolution and can we also all agree that we are SICK of hearing about it everywhere??
My first guess is because the diet culture has been SO successful at feeding into our insecurities. The insecurities that they have fostered and benefited from. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT saying losing weight is bad. The obsession with it is. The obsession doesn’t teach you how to be happy, how to be a good person, how to be beautiful, how to be healthy and how to have a healthy relationship with food, body and your mental health.
SO…before you make your New Year’s resolution to lose weight, read this first.
For a lot of us, when we gain weight over a period of time or even suddenly, crazy things can happen to our thoughts and self-talk. Our inner voice can get nasty, mean, obsessive and sad. This can be due to how you were raised, it can come from a society that is fat phobic, it can be from the numerous industries that make billions of money from keeping us feeling insecure and never enough the way we are. It can also come from being bombarded with images in the media that are not a true representation of normal bodies. So for a lot of people when they gain weight, their inner voice starts to say some nasty things to them or they feel shame, disappointment and guilt. Yes, it can be frustrating when the clothes we invested in no longer fit and are snug. Trust me I get it. I have had two kids and I have been a size 6 to a 12. So yes, you can BE frustrated, but knowing WHY you are frustrated is the difference and the KEY to unlocking what you should do or not do when you’ve gained weight.
The first thing you SHOULD do is get your MINDSET in the right place. Our brains were not designed to make us happy, they are there to help us survive, so we have to actively find ways to find happiness. It begins INTERNALLY first, because your never ending search of losing weight in order to feel happier with yourself will be a never ending goal. If you want to feel happier, then you need to start with with your thoughts FIRST.
So what the heck is Mindset?
Mindset is our attitude behind everything we do. So that means if we want positive change in our lives, then our thoughts need to be positive too.
Why is mindset it important?
Let me put it in the context of the topic on weight gain and the mindset when it happens. If we feel shame or frustration due to weight gain, the most common reaction is to start a diet, maybe restrict food, start to intensify workouts and for some, an obsession with a number of some sort. The # on a scale, the number of calories, the number on your clothes. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight or to work on your physical health, but the reason WHY you do it and your mindset behind it matters. If you ACTUALLY want to love your body more…then losing weight isn’t going to magically make that happen. You need to learn to love yourself exactly where you are right now in order to be happier with your body.
I have heard SO many women who have lost 20, 50, 80 lbs and they still hate themselves just as much as they did before because they didn’t actually learn to change their mindset. I had seen many women looking back on pictures when they were younger thinner and say “I wish I had been happier with my body then, I thought I was fat then, but I would give anything to be that size again.” They thought that something exterior, like the size of their body would make them love themselves more. They ended up learning they were wrong.
I am not saying that all people who make their goal of losing weight will always be unhappy. The reason WHY you are losing weight will be the determinant of your happiness. Work on your health from a place of love, respect and grace. Trust me, if you start to learn to accept and love yourself no matter what you look like, the transformation is magical. I have never loved myself or my body more than I have at the age of 39. It is not because I am the fittest or thinnest I have ever been (which I am not). So many think that when they get the MOST fit or reach their goal weight, that all of a sudden they will love their body and themselves.
Nope. Loving yourself more comes from your mindset and your intention. Once I started to embrace me and my body in any shape or form, I learned to love it MORE than ever. I embraced my crooked front tooth that I used to hide in pictures when I smiled, my grey hairs EVERYWHERE (I mean everywhere), my upper lip and chin hairs that grow in the millions, my giant birthmark on my leg, my jiggly bum and the way my tummy gently rests on thighs when I sit. I embraced it ALL and it is so freaking freeing.
So, if you are trying to lose weight or work on your health, you need to put your mindset as your #1 goal first. Always question WHY you are doing something, is it coming from a place of love or hate? Are you punishing yourself? Is your “why” influenced by the opinion of others (like an idiot family member, social media or the diet industry) or are you doing it because it is what what you truly want deep down?
WHY I am talking about this??
Last month I went on vacation and ate all the yummy food. Then I got sick and didn’t move my body for a month. Then Christmas came with all the yummy treats and I ate them. I am sure you can guess that this lead to some weight gain and made a lot of my pants snug. Yes, I felt frustrated. But NOT because I gained weight…it was only because I couldn’t wear my favourite jeans. There is a difference between those 2 reasons.
Self-talk when you’re frustrated about weight gain – “ugh, I’m fat, gross and can’t look at myself in a mirror”. “I am so mad at myself for eating that food, I am never eating carbs or sugar again”.
Self-talk when you’re frustrated about snug jeans – “These are uncomfortable, I wonder if I have a stretchier pair of jeans or pants in my closet”. “I will get new jeans”.
It took hard work this past year in changing my mindset, as it did not happen overnight. In the past, when I gained weight, I would feel dread and would obsess over my belly. Now I don’t dread it at all. I am not trying to come across that this shift in mindset is easy, because it isn’t. We have to work on years of unlearning and examining our thought process and combating outside influences that can affect our mindset.
Tips on what I am going to do and not do about my weight gain:
I am NOT:
- Throwing out my jeans and only vow to wear leggings. Not that there’s anything wrong with leggings, but I don’t feel good or like ME when I wear them. I am true to myself when I wear an outfit and I want to wear what makes me feel good and feel like ME.
- Going to diet. I love food too much and I believe in intuitive eating. If you struggle with your relationship with food, then seek out a Dietician. Don’t buy into those insert blank # of week programs to fat loss? Those are generally not run by professionals in their field. When are car is broken, we go to a mechanic to get help. If you struggle with food, then we should go see a professional for help. Don’t trust the anecdotal data from those who want to make money from your insecurities and give you a quick fix. Seek someone out that is going to teach you eating habits that will be sustainable, instead of the quick fixes that don’t last. You can be body positive and still want to lose weight…it’s the WHY, the intention and the mindset that matters behind it. Don’t do it to fit an unreasonable ideal or what society tells you is the desired body. It’s all bullshit that’s been fed to you in order to make billions.
- Going to obsess on the size of my clothes at a store or the number on a scale. I don’t even own a scale and never have (even at a size 12). That number has never held any meaning for me. It does not tell me if I have a happy life or if I am a good person.
- Going to increase the intensity of exercise. I exercise for my mental and physical health and on a schedule that works for my lifestyle, it will not RULE my lifestyle. I don’t move my body to lose weight because our size does not determine our physical health. I know others who weigh more than me and they can totally outlast me in cardio and in weight lifting. If you get caught up in the obsession with numbers, then think of other things you can focus on with your health goals. A goal can be doing 10 burpees without wanting to die (that is one of mine), it could be running up a hill as fast as you can, again without wanting to pass out, it can be that you can play more games of tag with your kids without getting tired, it could be that you have more energy… there are so many positive things we can set as goals instead.
- Going to continue to be true to myself and wear what I feel great in. Some pieces may not fit, but I have enough that do. If I find myself not feeling great in my clothes, then I will buy new ones.
- Going to go back to eating how I always eat. I eat food that is good for me and makes me feel good. I know how to set our family up for success to eat food that makes my body feel good. I ALSO like to eat food that just TASTES good too. For me, it is balance and listening to my body and not restricting it. Usually when I find balance again, my body goes back to its past state. If it doesn’t then I am okay with that.
- Going to get back to the gym and keep my schedule exactly how it was before I stopped moving it for a few weeks.
- Going to continue to think I am just as awesome as I did before I gained weight. Cause I am NO FREAKING different then I was a month ago.
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