Thin means happy and healthy right?

Most of the women I speak to or see in clinic tell me they want to shift some weight – for some it is a lot of weight but for the majority it is just those last 3-6kgs. It’s often not the main reason that people are seeking my support but it is something that comes up in conversation time and time again.

I always ask why people want to lose weight and the answers I get are generally a version of one or two of these 3:

  1. I want to look and feel better about myself and look good in my clothes
  2. I always used to be thinner and happier and I want to get back to that
  3. This is the heaviest I’ve ever been and I need to get a handle on my eating habits

There seems to be an association, regardless of the age of the woman, that the number on the scales is actually a measure of happiness rather than simply what you actually weigh.  I hear of women who are perfectly happy and then stand on the scales and “bam” they are in a grumpy mood and hate themselves for the rest of the day.

WOW those scales have so much power over so many women!

Somewhere down the line someone decided that thin equals happy and this message has got stuck.  It’s in every magazine you read and in films and television programmes.  The fat person is sad, ugly and lonely and the thin one is prettier, happy and has lots of friends.  What a crock of 💩 💩

Celebrities are “fat shamed” weekly for looking like normal people.  Just look at this lot – this is not OKAY on ANY level!

It is time to say enough is enough and break free from this.  It is perfectly fine to want to lose weight for health reasons…..someone with heart issues, an obese diabetic, joint pains caused by excess weight etc…..but that is a different discussion for a different day and isn’t part of this battle.

Ultimately, associating weight with happiness leads to a lifetime of restrictive and emotional eating.  When you are “on a diet” you might eat more salads….this is then associated with an unhappy and painful time of self-loathing and punishing yourself for being a certain weight.  Once that “pain point” disappears and you have lost a few pounds (as most people will on a very restrictive diet) you lose the initial drive and motivation to continue to eat the horrible diet foods and end up rewarding yourself with all the foods that you weren’t allowed to eat which is then associated with happiness following a horrid time….which will increase your waistline and have you feeling the pain and self-loathing once again……Can you see how this can very quickly and easily evolve into an issue with eating patterns and a life of yoyo diets?!

Let me tell you a shocking truth – not all thin people are happy and not all people who have wobbly bits are sad!

I work with my clients in a completely different way. We get an understanding of “the why”.  We look at how life is now, how it would change, what would be different, how feelings would change and who else might benefit if weight is lost or health changes.

It is much easier to stay motivated and work towards an enticing goal than trying to keep motivated in running away from feelings of self-loathing (the pain point).

Then, and really only then, can weight loss be achieved….if indeed weight loss is still the desired goal.  Most often the goal shifts and it is actually more about wanting to feel energised and sleep well…..a client today told me she feels great and is no longer “wading through treacle”….and she’s lost a little weight but not a significant amount!

Let me give you an example.  I spoke at length to a friend who is overweight and wanted to shift some.  She’s had years of dieting with varying success and just can’t seem to stick to eating well consistently.  I went through lots of questions and the results were very revealing.  It turns out she is actually happy right now; her family love her exactly as she is and that will never change if she loses or gains weight.  Her health is mostly okay and there is nothing that losing weight will enable her to do that she isn’t doing already.  The amount of weight to lose felt high and unachievable.  Literally the only difference if she lost weight would be she will be in smaller clothes………..this is why she can’t stick to healthy eating.  Her desire to lose weight is driven by expectations from society.  You will never succeed at anything if you aren’t passionate about it or will be fundamentally changed when you reach your goal.  It turns out weight loss isn’t actually right for her and just adopting some generally healthier habits into her life to help with energy is all that is needed right now. What’s funny is that as she adopts more of these energy building habits she is likely to lose a little weight….but the goal is now different and it’s motivating so it’s much easier to make the changes.

What can you do to help yourself?

Why not go through the exercise of answering these questions to understand why you want to lose weight and see where it actually takes you:

  • Why aren’t you happy right now with your weight?
  • What do you really want (and I mean really want!!)?
  • What specifically will change when you do lose weight?
  • How might life be different when the weight is lost?
  • How will you feel?
  • How will you look?
  • Who else would benefit?
  • Can you name 3 benefits of weight loss for you?

Understanding your “why” is critical. Once you truly know your purpose you’ll know if this is something that you still want to do. It helps to normalise your feelings about eating healthier foods which makes reducing the sugary and processed ones much less of an emotional choice and more about a long-term vision than can be planned, be rewarded along the way and be an enjoyable journey.

One thing is for sure – NEVER try and lose weight because you think you ought to.  Do it for you and only you.  Wobbly bits are normal and there is absolutely nothing wrong with them!


Janet Padfield

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