Firstly, I don’t buy into the socially accepted norm that “thinner is better” – it perpetuates the myth that thin bodies are healthy bodies and reinforces our cultural obsession with the physical aesthetic – at all costs (ironically, health). I could rant on a while about this and share all the scientific proof why thin doesn’t equal health, but I’ll save that for another day. Today I want to lead with my second reason. Because I actually think it’s even more important. Here it is…
I think the assumption that weight loss is intentional (and desired) is dangerous.
At my one of my “lowest” points – I was restricting to unhealthy levels, deeply depressed and having suicidal thoughts. I was in a dark place and everyone celebrating my weight loss just confused me. Here I was, the thinnest I’d been to that point in my life (I was 19) and everyone was telling me how good I looked – how happy I must be. But I was miserable. Crying every day – sometimes all day. Feeling extremely disconnected from life. Isolating myself and simply going through the motions when I did have to pretend everything was fine (it wasn’t).
All my life I had placed so much weight on my weight. I’d always assumed once I was thin, I’d be happy. And here I was thin, and emotionally/ mentally/ spiritually at my lowest of lows.
This was a turning point for me. An awakening of sorts. I’m grateful that with time, space, support and intention I was able to climb out of the darkness and find my way back to joy and living a life I was inspired by. But it was the first clue of many I’d receive that weight is not the end all be all. And in fact – the cultural preoccupation with weight is not helping, it’s harming our health!
Food for thought.
If you find yourself getting caught up in the weight loss = praise train, keep this in mind.
Some of the reasons people who “look generally healthy” might lose weight:
- Eating disorder
- Celiac Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Thyroid Conditions
- Adrenal Issues
- Dental problems
- The. list. goes. on.
My best advice: don’t assume.
Especially this time of year! If you know someone is working hard to make healthy habit changes and weight loss is (for them) a positive outcome – awesome. Instead of commenting on the physical transformation, instead consider commenting on the actions they’re taking.
Here’s a list of compliments you can give someone that have nothing to do with their body aesthetic:
- Wow! Your commitment to your health is so inspiring!
- I’ve really noticed how much more energetic you are.
- You’re really glowing!
- It’s really incredible to see you so vibrant and full of life!
- You’re rocking your workouts! Way to go!
Also keep in mind, that it’s a fine line between praising the actions and putting pressure on people to be perfect as they embark on these changes. Heck, we all falter and fall now and then. So make sure you still leave space for your loved ones to… be human!
Final word(s): making health changes is not a light switch.
Lasting change will involve ups, downs, loop-de-loops, twists and turns. And it’s ALL good. Remember that.
Weight loss isn’t a badge of honour! Your body composition is not the be all end all of health. It’s ONE metric. A limiting one at that.
You are more than a body. You are a vibrant, evolving, dynamic human being – with so much more to offer this world than a perfected booty or toned xyz. Don’t you forget it.
PS. If you’re tired of the rollercoaster ride of health + fitness and the pursuit of it all, consider joining me for the Super You Mindset. In this 1-month course I’ll guide you out of the body hatred battleground and towards food + fitness freedom! Change your lens and create a healthy lifestyle you love – for good!