When it is NOT Time to Lose Weight

Since I have been trying to lose weight from the age of 10, I have never ever stopped to consider that there may actually be a TIME to lose weight, and a time NOT to lose weight.

What?  If I am overweight, you mean it is possible that weight loss should NOT be my focus at this time?

Yes, that is what I am saying.  Let me explain.

I recently stumbled upon this podcast from Chris Masterjohn, Phd (HERE) where he chronicles his 30 lb weight loss.  Now, I’m not saying that the METHOD he used to lose weight is my focus here.  Chris has a significantly different body composition than I.  In fact, I think Chris looks just fine in his BEFORE pictures.  So, when he lost weight, he used a different method than I would have to use, eating more carbohydrates than would work for me.  So, I’m not sharing his podcast to promote his particular method (unless his method works for you).  In fact, Chris is very clear in his message that each person needs to find what works best for them, and part of the problem as to why there is so much failure in people staying committed to their weight loss plan, is that they have possibly chosen a plan that is not a good fit for them.  I really respect him for this, not being dogmatic that there is one way to lose weight for all people.  I completely agree.  Although this page focuses on low carb living, I do believe that there are people that just prefer, or can thrive, using other means of heatlhy living.

But something he talks about in this podcast makes more sense than anyone I’ve ever heard on the subject.  He states that when you are going through significant life stressors, weight loss should not be a priority at that time.  He likens stress levels to a “bucket” that, once full, can no longer accept any additional stressors.  Believe it or not, WEIGHT LOSS IS A STRESSOR.  Exercise too, is a stressor.  So, if your “stress bucket” is full, there will be no room to add additional stressors.  The key is to first, deplete your bucket to make room for the stressors of weight loss and exercise.  In other words, you must concentrate on managing your life stressors FIRST before trying to lose weight.

I am a perfect living proof of this.  Within the last year, our family has experienced a significant job loss, an open heart surgery and grueling recovery, the death of an infant, a diagnosis of terminal cancer, and the loss of a family pet.  These huge stressors took a toll on my overall health.  As a result, I started to see some weight creep back on, weight that I had kept of for several years.  What did I do?  Well, I thought to myself, “I’ve got this, I’ll just drop the carbs more and work out even more intensely.”  For the first time, it didn’t work.  So, I tried harder.  But the harder I tried, not only did I not LOSE, but I continued to GAIN.

So, I went to my healthcare provider and she investigated for me.  She discovered that my stress hormone was through the roof, and my thyroid was in the tank.  No wonder my efforts were not working.  Not only was I not losing weight, but I was exhausting myself and was now having problems with insomnia and very low mood.  I knew that I had to put improving my health to the forefront and not try so hard to lose weight.  The problem is, I was now not comfortable in my own skin.  How can I feel positive when I hate the way I look?

Well, in talking back and forth with Chris through a Facebook thread, I began to realize something.  I have NEVER felt positive about the way I look.  After losing 80 pounds when I first began healthy eating, I STILL did not feel good about myself.  In high school, I remember that I was 135 lbs and wearing a size 5, and I was still starving myself because I didn’t like the way I looked.

So, maybe the problem is not the weight itself, per se, although I do like being a weight that helps me feel healthy and energetic, but I think it is more how I FEEL about the weight that is the problem.  Chris mentioned to me that maybe I need to “focus on self acceptance.”  Then, he stated “I accept you.”  Why is it that other people can accept me but I cannot accept myself?

So, I thought for the first time in life, that maybe it was time to work on how I FEEL about me.  Here’s the deal.  When people fat shame others, they think that the fat shaming is doing them a favor, that the person will feel ashamed and change.  But fat shaming doesn’t work.  Why?  BECAUSE NO ONE HAS EVER CHANGED BY BEING MADE TO FEEL BAD ABOUT THEMSELVES.  PEOPLE CHANGE WHEN THEY ARE INSPIRED AND EMPOWERED.    So we all get that right?  Anyone who has ever had a weight problem would certainly not stoop to fat shaming another person, right?  So why then, do we than fat shame ourselves?  Why are we our own worst enemies?

So, what could turn the tables for me and my thinking that is so skewed?  How could I fix my thinking?  Chris mentioned in a comment to another follower to “stand in the mirror naked every day and tell yourself you are incredibly sexy and your body fat is a beautiful part of that.”  (In fact, Chris had several suggestions which I will share in a moment.)  Ok, so I’ve been doing that.  If nothing else, I totally crack up at myself doing it, so it has been great for a laugh, which I needed. (I am realizing how little I have laughed over the past year.)

But, I also decided to search for positive affirmations about body image that I could repeat to myself.  Here are some that I found (a few that I had to adapt a bit because these came from a website about eating disorders.  Find the original list HERE).

1. My body deserves love

2. I am perfect, whole, and complete just the way I am

3. I feed my body healthy nourishing food and give it healthy nourishing exercise because it deserves to be taken care of

4. I love and respect myself

5. It’s okay to love myself now as I continue to evolve

6. My body is a temple. I want to treat it with love and respect.

7. My body is a gift.

8. Food doesn’t have to be the enemy, it can be nurturing and healing.

9. Life is too short and too precious to waste time obsessing about my body. I am going to take care of it to the best of my ability and get out of my head and into the world.

10. I will not give in to the voices that tell me that my body is not okay. I will listen to the healthy voices that I do have, even if they are very quiet so that I can understand that I am fine. I am fine.

11. Food doesn’t make me feel better, it just temporarily stops me from feeling what I’m feeling.

12. I have everything inside of me that I need to take care of myself without using food.

13. A goal weight is an arbitrary number, how I feel is what’s important.

14. I am worthy of love

15. As long as I am good, kind, and hold myself with integrity, it doesn’t matter what other people think of me.

16. Other people are too busy thinking about themselves to care what my weight is

17. When I compare myself to others, I destroy myself, I don’t want to destroy myself so I’ll just continue on my journey, not worrying about other people’s journeys.

18. I am blessed to be aging. The only alternative to aging is death.

19. It’s okay for me to like myself. It’s okay for me to love myself.

20. I have to be an advocate for me. I can’t rely on anyone else to do that for me.

21. A “perfect” body is one that works, no matter what that means for you personally.

22. It’s okay for me to trust the wisdom of my body.

23. Just because someone looks perfect on the outside, doesn’t mean they have a perfect life. No one has a perfect life, we all struggle. That’s just what being human is.

24. If I spend too much time trying to be and look like someone else, I cease to pay attention to myself, my virtues, my path, and my journey.

25. When I look to others to dictate who I should be or how I should look, I reject who I am.

26. The last thing I should be doing is rejecting myself. Accepting myself as I am right now is the first step in changing, growing and evolving. When I reject myself, I cannot grow.

27. Self respect is underrated.

28. I can only go forward, so although I can learn from it, I refuse to dwell on the past.

29. ALL images in magazines are airbrushed, photoshopped, and distorted.

30. If people actively judge or insult me, it’s because they feel badly about themselves. No one who feels good about themselves has the need to put someone down to elevate themselves- they have better things to do with their time.

31. I have no need to put someone down to elevate myself.

32. I can be a good person if I choose to be.

33. It’s my life, I can choose the way I want to live it.

34. When I smile, I actually make other people happy.

35. Balance is the most important.

36. If I eat something unhealthy today, I can still love and accept myself, I don’t have to beat, berate and starve myself right afterwards, and I still have the very next moment to jump right back into healthy eating.

37. Healthy living is an ongoing process that is not linear in fashion. If I slip up, I’ll take the opportunity as a learning experience and get right back to my recovery goals/program.

38. Progress is not linear. It’s normal for me to go forward and then backward, and then forward again.

39. I enjoy feeling good. It’s okay for me to feel good.

40. What my body looks like on the outside is not my identity.

41. Being skinny or fat is not my identity. I am identified by who I am on the inside, a loving, wonderful person.

42. I choose health and healing over diets and punishing myself.

43. My opinion of myself is the only one I truly know and it’s the only one that counts. I can choose my opinion of myself.

44. When I am in my head too much, I can return to my breath, just breath and be okay. There is only this moment.

45. It’s okay to let others love me, why wouldn’t they?

46. I am good stuff.

47. I am compassionate and warm. My presence is delightful to people.

48. My very existence makes the world a better place.

49. It’s okay to pay someone to rub my feet every once in a while.

50. If I am hungry, I am supposed to let myself eat. Food is what keeps me alive.

51. Getting older makes me smarter.

52. It’s okay not to be the best all the time.

53. My well-being is the most important thing to me. I am responsible for taking care of me. We are each responsible for ourselves.

54. No one has the power to make me feel bad about myself without my permission.

55. My feet are cute. Even if they’re ugly.

56. I eat for energy and nourishment.

57. Chocolate is not the enemy. It’s not my friend either. It’s just chocolate, it has no power over me.

58. I can be conscious in my choices.

59. I am stronger than the urge to feel bad about myself.

60. I am healthier than the urge to feel bad about myself.

61. Restricting my food doesn’t make me a better person, being kind to myself and to others makes me a better person.

62. Being skinny doesn’t make me good. Being fat doesn’t make me bad.

63. I can be healthy at any size.

64. Life doesn’t start 10 pounds from now, it’s already started. I can make the choice to include myself in it.

65. Food, drugs, and alcohol are not the solution. But they might seem like it at times, but using these things can make more problems. I have what I need inside of me as the solution.

66. There is a guide inside of me who is wise and will always be there to help me on my journey.

67. Sometimes sitting around and doing nothing is just what the doctor ordered. It’s okay to let myself relax.

68. I am a human being, not a human doing. It’s okay to just besometimes. I don’t always have to be doing.

69. My brain is my sexiest body part.

70. Looks last about five minutes– or until someone opens their mouth.

71. My life is what I make of it. I have all the power here.

72. My body is a vessel for my awesomeness.

73. My body can do awesome things.

74. If I am healthy, I am so very blessed.

75. I won’t let magazines or the media tell me what I should look like. I look exactly the way I’m supposed to. I know because this is the way God made me!

76. What is supposedly pleasing to the eye is not always what is pleasing to the touch. Cuddly is good!

77. I can trust my intuition. It’s here to guide me.

78. Just because I am taking care of myself and being an advocate for myself doesn’t mean I’m selfish.

79. Not everyone has to like me. I just have to like me.

80. It’s not about working on myself it’s about being okay with who I already am.

81. My needs are just as important as anyone else.

82. Body, if you can love me for who I am, I promise to love you for who you are– no one is responsible for changing anyone else.

83. I will make peace with my body, it doesn’t do anything but keep me alive and all I do is insult it and hurt it. I’m sorry body, you’ve tried to be good to me and care for me, it’s time for me to try to be good back.

84. Thighs, thank you for carrying me.

85. Belly, thank you for holding in all my organs and helping me digest.

86. Skin, thank you for shielding and protecting me.

87. Other people don’t dictate my choices for me, I know what’s best for myself.

88. I feed my body life affirming foods so that I can be healthy and vital.

89. Taking care of myself feels good.

90. I can eat a variety of foods for health and wellness without overeating.

91. There is more to life that losing weight. I’m ready to experience it.

92. If I let go of my obsession with food and my body weight, there is a whole world waiting for me to explore.

93. The numbers on the scale are irrelevant to who I am as a human.

94. Food is not good or bad. It has no moral significance. I can choose to be good or bad and it has nothing to do with the amount of calories or carbohydrates I eat.

95. I am still beautiful when I’m having a bad hair day.

96. Being grounded and whole is what makes me beautiful. If I don’t feel grounded and whole, I can get there just by being still, breathing, listening to my intuition, and doing what I can to be kind to myself and others.

97. I am not bad and I don’t deserve to be punished, not by myself and not by others1

98. I deserve to be treated with love and respect and so do you. I choose to do and say kind things for and about myself and for and about others.

99. Even if I don’t see how pretty I am, there is someone who does. I am loved and admired. REALLY!

100. Beauty?… To me it is a word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from nor where it leads to. ~Pablo Picasso

So I have been picking 10 of these to say to myself each day.  Then, I will just circle back and start the list over.  It is helping to retrain my brain to see that my self worth is about something other than my appearance.

So, how about the rest?  I have been spending months trying to heal my adrenals and thyroid.  It is working but the progress is slow.  I am eating and exercising for nourishment, health and wellness and when the weight begins to move, it will just be an added bonus.  I had been telling myself that I needed to be back to my goal weight by the summer, but I am no longer putting a time frame on this.  It is what it is.

Chris had some other extremely helpful advice in his comment thread to another reader.  When she asked about how to recover a crashed metabolism, he gave the following advice:

  1. “Don’t try to lose weight”
  2. “Look in the mirror naked every day and tell yourself you’re incredibly sexy and your body fat is a beautiful part of that”
  3. “Sleep as much as possible”
  4. “Work as little as possible”
  5. “Have as much safe sex as possible, but only  when you’re not too tired to have it”
  6. “Make your food as nutritious as possible, but then add ice cream on top of it” (low carb ice cream right? Lol)
  7. “Have a lot of fun”
  8. “Limit your obligations to other people”
  9. “Take a one month vacation”
  10. “Do a complete digital detox during your vacation”
  11. “Bonus: don’t read anything about health”

He then states “this is an oversimplification” but that “de-stressing is probably the most helpful thing you can do” when dealing with this health problem.

I like that advice.  I seem to be doing the opposite of almost everything on this list.  Time to get moving on living life and not being unhappy every day when I look in the mirror.  Even if I get to the point that I love my weight, I’ve still got this hair to contend with!  LOL!

So, my point is, if your stress bucket is full, before you try to lose weight, you’ve got to empty the bucket, at least 1/2 to 3/4 of the way.

Please listen to the beautiful podcast if you feel that you have become unbalanced in your thinking about your weight.

Thanks Chris for such a great post that has touched me so personally.  Isn’t it amazing that we just never know whose lives we will touch?

Wishing you health and happiness.