This is the most common time of year (followed only by bikini season) for making weight-loss goals.
Really, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, and I would never shame someone if they told me that it was a goal of theirs. My problem isn’t with the weight loss itself, because in many cases, 5 or 10 pounds is a pretty benign change. Really, my problem is in the heart behind it.
I used to be obsessed with weight loss. Like, it was the only thing I could think about, and everything else I did or cared about tied back in some way to my desire to be thinner. I meticulously counted calories, avoided certain foods, and exercised for hours each week so that I could watch the number on the scale slowly tick lower and lower.
The irony was that even on the days I did successfully follow my diet plans, or when the number on the scale was lower than the night before, I didn’t feel better about myself. I didn’t feel happy or even relieved. I actually just felt worse. Not only did dieting fail to help me sustain weight loss (I gained it all back and then some, thanks to bingeing), but it didn’t help me like my body more either, and I think that was my ultimate goal. Honestly, dieting actually made me feel more preoccupied with and critical of my body.
Like so many other women, I’d fallen prey to the lies of diet culture, believing that weight loss would be the launchpad for everything I wanted out of life, when instead it just pulled me further and further away from what I truly desired, which was to feel peaceful, joyful, and fulfilled.
How okay are you with gaining 2 pounds? The way you answer this question tells you everything you need to know about your relationship with food.Tweet
Looking back, the biggest problem that dieting caused was in my heart. The weight loss industry fed me this idea that the way I was made wasn’t already good enough. It told me that I needed to eat differently so I could look different, and only then would I begin to be valuable or have something to offer. But that could not have been further from the truth. In reality, the number on the scale doesn’t matter at all…not for our health, not for our sense of identity, and not for our worth.
So…if weight doesn’t matter, what does?
Well, lots of things. I think the best answer to that question really comes down to individual values. But at least in terms of the value of well-being, here are a few ideas of things that matter a lot more than body weight.
1. How you feel about your body.
A few months ago I shared a post on Instagram from @gratefully_nourished that said:
You can be thin and dislike your body. You can be fat and like your body. You can be thin and like your body. You can be fat and dislike your body. At some point you realize it’s not really about your body.”
I loved that wording so much because it’s so true. The way we feel about our bodies really have nothing to do with what our bodies actually look like and everything to do with how we choose to see value in ourselves.
2. Enjoyment of exercise/movement.
Movement is life. Everything that is alive moves. But I think everyone who knows what it’s like to have a disordered relationship with exercise knows that you can be living like a dead (wo)man walking when there’s no joy in the movement.
The point of exercise isn’t just to burn calories. It’s so much more than that, and our relationship with movement says a lot about our overall sense of well-being.
3. The freedom to enjoy food.
Did you know that food guilt creates a stress response in your body? And when we eat while in a state of stress, our digestion is worse, so it’s more likely that we’ll have stomach pain or bloating. Furthermore, stress interferes with our appetite regulation, making us either more hungry or less hungry than appropriate for the amount of energy we need. There are actually a lot of reasons why stress is bad, and stressing about food is only going to harm you rather than help you
Fore more, check out this post on stress and weight gain.
4. Finding your identity apart from looks.
You are more than what your body looks like.
In fact, the core of your identity actually doesn’t have very much to do with you at all. Rather, it’s rooted in the fact that you are deeply and profoundly loved by the God who made you.
Our identities don’t come from strict diet or exercise plans, or fitting into a certain size of jeans. They comes from God.
I talk more about this idea of finding our identities apart from our bodies in my new book, Fulfilled, which will be released on March 2nd. It’s available for pre-order now, and if you are struggling in your relationship with food or your body, I highly encourage you to check it out! If you pre-order before the release date, you’ll be eligible to download the exclusive content, available only with a pre-order confirmation code.