Oprah was once credited with saying, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I admire Oprah for a plethora of reasons I don’t care to debate or justify at this time. So when I was in college and desperately trying to lose 30 pounds, I would look at cake, donuts, or Del Taco and say to myself, “Skinny feels better than a chicken soft taco with hot sauce. Walk away!”
It never worked.
At the time, I thought it didn’t work because food tastes good, so back off, Oprah. It took about 10 years for me to realize that I was looking for error in the wrong half of that statement. Skinny doesn’t feel like anything. Just like fat doesn’t feel like anything. Fat, skinny, thin, chubby, fluffy, skeletal, obese…none of these are feelings. They are judgmental self-assignments that we use as a bizarre measurement of our self-worth. Your value, to yourself and to the world, is not directly, or indirectly, linked to your BMI.
Sit with that for a minute, please.
If I could stand on a soapbox in the middle of Times Square, I would implore through the amplified assistance of a bullhorn, “Please stop hating yourself into weight loss. Hating your body and punishing it into submission is not the key to enlightenment. You will not be happier, more lovable, or more productive by tearing yourself down over every food and exercise decision you make.”
Here’s the deal. Know your why if you really want to lose weight. Your why can be any number of reasons, but the best why is focused on a positive outcome, not rooted in shame and hate.
I want to lose weight because right now, I need to lie down after playing with my kids. Yep, let’s drop a few pounds and improve your fitness. I want to lose weight because I have heartburn every night that makes it hard to fall asleep. Yep, let’s look at that diet and help your body out. I want to lose weight because I am married and it is my duty to live as long and as healthy a life as possible out of love and respect for my partner. Yep, let’s go on a hike as a couple and make those healthy choices together.
Pardon my French for the duration of the next paragraph.
I need to lose weight because no one will be attracted to me. Fuck no, you are beautiful just the way you are and there are plenty of people in the world who agree with me. I need to lose weight because my 10 year high school reunion is in a month. Fuck no, show those old classmates who’s the boss by laying out all of your accomplishments over the last 10 years. I need to lose weight because I’m tired of being a size 6 and I want to be a size 0. Umm, that’s not even worth an emphatic curse word. Except maybe, who gives a fuck what size you are?
Weight loss, despite the very simple formula of move more, eat less (or as I would argue, eat differently), is not easy. Root yourself in your positive intentions, celebrate every healthy decision you make, set goals, measure your results and reward yourself for your successes. And know this, the food you eat and the size of your body do not serve as an accurate measurement of your value to society. So go easy on yourself, won’t you?
Trust in your ability to make great decisions and to remain dedicated to your why. Reach out for support when you need it. Try new workouts and new recipes. Learn what healthy things you do and don’t like. Over time, maybe it’s 3 months, maybe it’s 3 years, all of these decisions won’t feel like chores, or even decisions really because they have become your way of life.
Much like, “move more, eat less” is the clichéd mantra of weight loss experts everywhere for a good reason. “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle” is clichéd and valuable for the same reason. It’s true. If you want to make meaningful, long-term changes to your body, a diet won’t work. But committing yourself to your why and taking the steps to change your life will.
Did you miss parts 1 and 2 of this 3 part formula for successful weight loss? Check them out online here: