Unless you have a sport, health condition or otherwise for which you need to maintain a certain weight, having a “goal weight” is a recipe for disaster.
First, what is “weight” as it pertains to your body? In the most simplistic of definitions, it is the sum of your mass. So, when you add up the amount of water, fat, muscles, poop etc., you get your weight. This number fluctuates minute to minute, day to day based on so many factors not within our control. Did you sleep enough, did you poop, are you on your period, are you stressed, do you have hormonal issues? These are just a few things that impact how much you weigh.
Therefore, to have a goal weight when so many things are not within our control is like shooting ourselves in the foot (is that how the saying goes?). We set ourselves up for so much frustration because of perceived failure if we’re not able to achieve that goal or worse yet, if we’re not able to maintain it when we get there.
Also, countless accounts from weight-loss success stories tell us we are no happier or more intelligent or more desirable once we hit that number. So, why not ditch it once and for all? Yes, often, when people are talking weight-loss, they mean fat loss specifically. They want less belly fat or they want to look more “toned” (gain muscle mass) or they think the lower weight will equal better health if they are struggling with health issues.
While there can be merit to the last reason, resolving health issues because of fat loss is not because the individual reached an arbitrary goal weight. Rather, it’s often because of better nutrition, increased movement, improved mental health, better sleep (for folks with sleep apnea for instance). So, the weight-loss by itself, has nothing to do with it.
While I’ve never had a weight goal, in the last year after losing 40lbs intentionally, I’ve gained back 10lbs. It caught me by surprise how that gain has sought to make me feel like I failed somehow. My goal working with a nutrition coach has been to lose fat not with a goal weight in mind but rather to address my emotional issues around food. It was a goal I felt I had accomplished because I didn’t emotionally eat as much anymore and I didn’t have anxiety around social eating where I felt that not a morsel could go to waste.
Therefore the 10lb gain felt like a failure of some sorts. Does this mean I still struggle with emotional eating, does this mean I haven’t mastered intuitive eating, does this mean I’m a fraud when I talk about how to achieve and maintain consistency?! Yeah, it was a moment. But with the help of my wonderful coach and some internal dialogue, I got myself together.
In the last 6 months, I’ve had a major surgery, planned a wedding, dealt with continued mental health issues and so the priority hasn’t been how much I weigh on the scale. Having weight-loss as a goal for aesthetic or health reasons isn’t wrong at all but realizing that life must happen in the meantime is necessary and that some things will take priority at different points is important. And that’s okay!
Weight–loss can’t occupy so much of our mental capacity. So, as we go into this new year, I urge you to let go of an ideal that at this point probably hasn’t served you. Rather, work towards a strong mental health game, movement with joy and function in mind and eating to nourish and improve our life.
No to crazy diets, no to self loathing, no to goal weights and yes to life and LIVING!
You got this; we got this.