The diet industry promised you happiness on the other side of thinness — can it deliver? No, it can’t.
This post discusses the different a-ha moments I’ve had in regards to weight, happiness, life, and everything in between.
When I first gave up dieting in 2016, weight loss not my goal. I was so fed up with dieting, I was willing to set the number on the scale aside, because my mental health was more important.
As the years passed by, my journey took on different shapes and textures. Instead of feeling like not-dieting was the same as throwing in the towel on my health, I feel like not-dieting is the reason why I am the healthiest I have ever been — physically and mentally.
And while my weight fluctuates a little with the seasons, I am the most stable I’ve ever been. That makes me happy. But weight loss actually did not lead to the happiness I once thought it would.
Here are 3 realizations that helped me make peace with my not-thin-but-oh-so-loveable body. If they resonate, I hope they will inspire you to give up dieting and listen to your body to inform what you eat, too.
Realization #1: Getting thin might not lead to happiness
Currently, being able to see someone’s bones (mainly their ribs, spine, or clavicles in particular) are a symbol of status.
Social media has taken this status and brain washed us into thinking that having thin status = being happy. This is how thinness became social currency. This is also false.
I humbly admit that for a long time, I would have died to be able to see my ribs.
It was only after giving up dieting that I had the thought: I’m not thin and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to see my ribs, but I’m still an amazing human being.
Then I had an even crazier revelation: I realized that I was never chasing a thin body. My real goal was the feeling that I thought a thin body would give me, which is love, acceptance, confidence, and approval.
Once I realized that I don’t need a thin body to achieve any of these things, I felt immense relief. Almost like I was off the hook. Thank goodness! About time!
Practical tips: Unlinking thinness from happiness
Here are some practical tips if you need help taking yourself off the hook, too:
First, check out The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. That workbook helps you identify your core desired feelings, such as connection and authenticity. These are much more descriptive and helpful than “I just want to be happy.”
Second, check out Why We Do the Things We Do, a workbook on self-sabotage. I created that workbook to help you discover the beliefs that trigger self-sabotage around food.
Some of the sections focus specifically on thinness and what we believe about thinness that could actually be causing us to self-sabotage our weight loss goals. It’s my most popular offering.
Realization #2: Being thin might not end the war with food
Did you know that many thin people actually have really messed up relationships with food?
On the Psychology of Eating podcast, a woman came on the show who had lost 100+ pounds and finally achieved her goal weight. Despite being at a lean size 4, she was still extremely paranoid around food.
Even at her goal weight, she was still scared to death that she would gain the weight back. She was living in the body she dreamed of, but it still felt like a prison.
As the saying goes, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Although she achieved her ideal outside, her insides were still the same, illustrating how a thin body does not necessarily end the war with food.
I thank that woman for the lesson she taught me. I learned that if I’m insecure and afraid of being overweight, then I will remain insecure and afraid – even if I’m not overweight.
Practical tips: Beat it to the punch
How awful would it be if you spent enormous loads of effort to lose weight, and you were just as miserable as before? It would suck! So, why not reverse engineer it? By giving up dieting.
Many of us are terrified of gaining weight if we give up dieting, but dieting is actually directly correlated with binge eating. The more we restrict, the more we binge.
See my guides on how to give up dieting for more advice on how to navigate the process.
Realization #3: Life might not be easier once you’re thin
I came to this realization when I was completing the Why Weight workbook by Geneen Roth (which I highly recommend).
I realized that I was carrying around the limiting belief that life will be easier without conflicts with food or my body. Riiiight.
Being thin can actually carry a burden of its own.
And regardless of that burden, life will always be full of problems. When we remove one, another one will become more important and consume the same amount of energy.
Instead of rushing to the “finish line” of thinness, let’s step back and actually think about what we want from life instead of assuming we’ll find it on the other side of weight loss.
Practical tips: Discover your “positive benefit”
As I regularly say on my blog: self-sabotage occurs when we are somehow getting a greater positive benefit from struggling with weight than from being our natural weight.
This is the entire premise of the Why We Do the Things We Do workbook: understanding what that positive benefit is.
While it sounds absolutely crazy that we could possibly be getting something good from the unwanted struggle with food and weight, the “burden of thin” is a great example.
Thin people do not receive love and approval from everyone. Have you ever been with a girlfriend that muttered skinny b*tch under her breath? Those comments are not silent.
And if you suddenly became thin, it means you need to withstand the heat of people hating you just because you’re thin.
And while that might not sound like such a bad trade off, I encourage you to think it through all the way. My workbook on self-sabotage is a great resource for that.
Are you ready for change?
I hope this post helped you rethink the idea that thinness = happiness. There’s a lot between Point A and Point B that the diet industry never encouraged us to consider.
One of the best decisions of my life was giving up dieting and listening to my body instead.
It helped me finally feel less obsessed over food, and eventually create Psycho-Spiritual Wellness: a path to feeling normal around food that focuses on psychology and spirituality, not dieting.
If you’re curious to learn more about this strangely-named approach to stop overeating, check out the free ebook below. It comes with a free 5 day course on Psycho-Spiritual Wellness — and it’s good stuff.
Originally posted on December 4, 2016 // Last updated on November 27, 2020