When I lose weight...

Fill in the blank: When I lose weight....

What do you think will happen? Be honest with yourself. Because in order to permanently change any behaviours that you find problematic, you have to become really clear on what you are expecting to find on the other side. Once you do this, you can evaluate if the expectation is reasonable or sound, or even real.

Trying to lose weight is really, really hard. I think everyone will agree on that point. So before you put in the time, energy and money to do this, ask yourself: how will life be better than it is now after I lose weight?

For example, do you think weight loss will improve your health? If so, know that being at a higher body weight is not necessarily associated with increased health risks. There are a ton of people in larger bodies that are extremely healthy, and a ton of people who are very thin that are sick - illnesses that may or may not be be related to their weight. There are also a lot of behaviour changes that can improve health outcomes significantly that are much more achievable once weight loss is taken out of the equation. Focusing on things such as learning to eat intuitively and making peace with food, becoming more active in ways that are enjoyable to you, prioritizing rest, sleep and relaxation, infusing self care into all areas of your life, embracing self-compassion, looking at things like life stressors and quality of life, finding meaningful work, engaging in healthy relationships and feeling connected to other people - these are all factors that can improve health that can be worked on independently of weight.

Maybe your answer to "when I lose weight..." is that you'll finally then be able to appreciate and love your body, find some peace with it, and actually get comfortable in your own skin. In this case, I would say emphatically and without hesitation that is that this is false. Been there done that, a thousand times - you probably have as well. Once you get to the goal weight, you may be elated for five minutes or so, and then the bar shifts on you. You realize you are not on solid ground at the new weight, and the quest to improve your body and hence your body image will be endless and limitless. I can't think of a single person I have ever met that arrived at their goal weight and was met with a deep sense of peaceful appreciation, love and satisfaction with their new body. The imperfections and flaws, whether they are stretch marks, belly rolls, cellulite, the shape of your legs or the dimples on your butt that you were never happy with will all still remain, as will your insecurity, disdain and desire to change them.

Maybe your answer to "when I lose weight..." is that you will be more attractive, receive more attention, or even more love than you receive in your current body. In this case, I ask you to think about the people in your life who you are closest to - your family members and loved ones. Your spouse, your kids, your parents, your siblings, your closest friends - would they love you more if you lost weight? Would they think you are any more interesting, relevant, wonderful than you currently are? Whenever I ask this question, the answer I get almost universally, is no. Your loved ones are the ones that already think you're amazing and that see all aspects of you internally and externally and love you regardless of how you look, the same way that you would love someone unconditionally and without question. Your love, respect and appreciation for that person does not depend on a number on the scale. If there is someone in your life that would view you as an improved version of yourself with weight loss, this speaks solely to their own issues and insecurities with body image and fat phobia. The most amazing qualities that you possess are completely separate from your weight - your personality, your humour, your warmth, your passion, your intellect-  these are all part of who you are and the reasons why you are loved by those who are closest to you. Weight loss won't change that. When most people I know really dig into this area, they discover that it's not their loved ones that they are wanting to impress with weight loss, it's the opinions of people on the outside edges of their lives that they want to sway - coworkers, neighbours, friends of friends, even strangers - that influence them. It's the persona that they want to put out into the world - of a thin, healthy, attractive, have-my-shit together individual - the persona that is widely accepted and embraced in our society. It has nothing to do with their real life and who they actually are. It is society's expectations and biases about thin and fat people (healthy vs unhealthy, attractive vs unattractive, disciplined vs lazy, vibrant vs invisible) that are their underlying motivators. We all want to be loved and accepted and desperately want to avoid being disregarded, judged or ignored altogether. But again - what if we are ALREADY loved and accepted by the ones in our lives who mean the most to us? Do the opinions and perceptions of the rest of the world really matter enough to put us through the perils of dieting? For example, I like how I look - but if I lived in Hollywood I know that I would be viewed as overweight and less attractive than if I was 20 pounds lighter. Does this reality influence me to change my appearance? Hell no. I couldn't care less about the opinions of people who may view me through that lens.

Weight loss has become the end-all, be-all, cure-all solution for all of life's issues, from fixing loneliness to chronic disease to low self-esteem to low energy levels (and again, I know a whole lot of tired, thin people who would argue that there are a hell of a lot of uncontrollable factors that can influence fatigue, independent of weight). My question is - if we can all agree that weight loss is really hard and often unsuccessful - do all the rewards supposedly yielded by weight loss actually exist, or could we possibly reap some of these in other ways (or even RIGHT NOW without doing anything)? And if this is the case, is it worth chasing the "when I lose weight..." dream?