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Why do you want to lose weight?

Written by Sarah on

A really common reason that people seek out the services of a Personal Trainer is that they want to lose weight. This is a totally valid goal to have and can come with a host of benefits for your health, but if this is your goal are you doing it for the right reasons?

I listened to a really interesting podcast recently with a nutritionist I admire, Dr Emilia Thompson PHD. Part of the discussion was around people pursuing weight loss and maintaining a goal weight above all else and some of the motivations behind this.

It made me think about my approach to weight in the past and how unhealthy it has sometimes been. There have been a couple of times in my adult life that I have had a low scale weight for my height. I had slimmed down to a point where friends and family expressed concern. Instead of taking their worries into account though, I was over the moon to see such a small figure on the scale, to look gaunt in photos and for previously snug clothes to hang off me. My main reading material at the time was Grazia and Heat magazines and I admired the super skinny figures of celebrities like Kate Moss, who at the time was dating Pete Doherty (a member of my favourite band The Libertines). Me and my friends used to joke about wanting to be ‘lollypop heads’, where your head looks out of proportion to your skinny 'stick like' body.

However, my scale weight was probably just about the only thing that was bringing me happiness during these times. They both came at the end of particularly volatile and destructive relationships where I’d found myself in chaotic living situations, needing to find anywhere to live that was away from that partner, financially struggling and existing on cigarettes, booze and not much else.

For years though I looked back on those skinny times with fondness and wondered how I could get back to that magical scale weight, completely overlooking the absolute misery that surrounded it! Yes, I may have been severely depressed and feeling at rock bottom but I could fit into a size 8 skirt! How could I look back on those times from a healthier and more mature perspective and think this was something to aspire to, where being light should be the priority over everything else, including mental and physical health?

I think this is something which is programmed into us from a young age, especially as women. We are ‘supposed to be’ small, petite, ladylike, our bodies are there to be admired by others first and foremost. Thinness is fetishized by our society and is a sign that you are successful, in control and somehow morally superior.

Actually all of that stuff is a load of rubbish. What we should be focussing on when it comes to our bodies is our health. We should love our bodies for what they allow us to do in them every single day and help them to become stronger, fitter and healthier so that we can do even more with them and continue to be as active and pain free as possible into old age. If our bodies are carrying a lot of excess weight then of course losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight long-term can be a big part of that, but it shouldn’t be seen as a route to happiness, fulfilment and acceptance. Because if you only stay slim by spending every day hating your life then you are going to be very unhappy for all of the time you aren’t standing on that scale and seeing the magic number.

I’m now in a much happier place both with my attitude to my weight and my life in general and it shocks me how much I’d bought into the ‘thinness at all costs’ mentality until relatively recently. For myself and my clients now I think it’s so important to think carefully about goals and the motivations behind them. There’s so much more to benefit from with a regular exercise routine and a healthy diet than seeing a decreasing number on a scale.

If I can help support you in finding some healthy goals around weight loss through becoming fitter, stronger and healthier please get in touch for a free consultation.

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