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Why Do You (Really) Want to Lose Weight?

Does it seem like everyone around you is on a diet? You’re not imagining things. Ask your co-workers how many of them have tried to lose weight over the past year and my bet is you’ll begin to feel like your office has morphed into a Cathy cartoon.

Of course, there are legitimate reasons to try and lose weight. For some of us, shedding the pounds can have important health benefits. Take, for example, this 85-pound beagle. But, unlike this poor pup, most of us are not so obese that we need to be wheeled around in a wagon. And a lot of the time, we diet “for health reasons” the way we read Playboy for the articles. So if it’s not just our health that we’re concerned about, why do we put so much time and energy into trying to slim down?

Social acceptance.

Dieting, especially among women, has of course become extremely commonplace. When everyone in your social circle is worried about their weight, it’s natural to join in. We may not even realize the degree to which we’re being influenced by our friends and co-workers. But their negative vibes can affect our mindsets drastically. If we allow this to continue, we eventually find ourselves saying things like, “Oh my god, I know this fat-free pudding cup has like 50 calories, but it’s going straight to my thighs.”

Impossible beauty standards.

There’s a reason why Photoshop is famous for photo editing celebrities until they have the “perfect” body image. Our culture convinces us that a major portion of our value as human beings is determined by our physical appearance – and that to be considered worthy, we must adhere to the ridiculous beauty standards set largely by the media. We start to believe that there is some preordained, objective standard of beauty, and that anyone who doesn’t meet it is a hideous beast unsuitable for basic human interaction. While this impacts women in unique ways, it is certainly true for guys, as well. But the reality is, many of us just aren’t going to be super skinny or super ripped unless we’re living extreme, unhealthy lifestyles. That doesn’t mean we’re unattractive. It means our definition of beauty is way, way too narrow.

Tuning out.

This is pop psychology 101 – but it’s the truth! A lot of the time, when there’s something in our lives that we’re unhappy about but feel powerless to change, we instead become focused on changing what we feel is in our control, like our weight. We tell ourselves that losing weight will bring us happiness. But the reality is, you’re not going to find lasting happiness unless you address the underlying emotional issues that compelled you to try and lose weight in the first place. Whether it’s relationship trouble, a loss that you haven’t recovered from, or negative beliefs you’re holding about yourself, those traumas will need to be healed in order to find genuine contentment.

Lack of self-love.

This one goes hand-in-hand with tuning out. Whatever the pain is that we’re trying to heal by losing weight, in the process, we often convince ourselves that we have to shed a certain number of pounds in order to become acceptable, loveable human beings. Being thin, we believe, is the only way we can be worthy of happiness. But this is so not true! We are all inherently worthy people, deserving of love and happiness, exactly as we are. So, to get the results we’re really looking for, we’d be better off focusing on accepting and respecting ourselves, rather than trying to hate ourselves skinny.

So, the point is this – there are a lot of reasons why we feel the need to lose weight, many of which have nothing to do with our health. To stop the cycle of dieting and self-criticism and start living our lives to the fullest, we need to start trying to accept ourselves exactly as we are right now, give ourselves permission to live authentically, and not allow the insecurities of others to bring us down. Easier said than done, I know, but you don’t have to do it all overnight. Just keep taking small steps.





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