Clients are very good at telling me what they think I want to hear. When I ask someone about their goals for their bodies and weight, I am always told the same, ‘I just want to be healthy.’ Occasionally it is true, but mostly they do not want to admit what they really want is perfection. We have been led to believe that a perfect body equals perfect life, the perfect person, after all what is the point of perfection if not that.
We are bombarded by large amounts of confusing and contradictory numbers about our body; numbers relating to weight, size, body fat, measurements, cholesterol, bum size, breast size, each one carefully charted by specialists in such a way that lets us use them to measure how good a person we are. Measures laid down by people that have never met us who we have given the power to tell us how good we are based on collections of samples and statistics.
The notion of attaching happiness to numbers is a trick of the mind. I see people in their late 30s, 40s and even 50s all wanting to be the size they were when they were 20 years old. Not out of vanity, but because that’s when they were happy. In the same way we attach memories to outfits, hairstyles, songs and even smells, we can attached happiness to our past weight. Even if we have never actually been our ideal weight, we see pictures of slim, smiling people and automatically believe that to be as happy as they are, we have to be their size. The simple truth is this – being thin only ever guarantees you one thing, smaller clothes.
The desire for perfection can creep into every part of our life. We want perfection for one reason – emotional stability. When everything in our life is perfect then our emotions are calm and we never feel the anxiety that comes from life changes or trauma. We want life perfection because we are afraid of how we will react to its imperfection. That upset comes in and we head back down that emotional rabbit hole. This is the reason some people lose lots of weight, achieve the perfection they were hoping for and then put it all back on. While they were losing weight, their lives were emotionally stable, one of those brief times when everything is good, easy and we can relax the control. But life is never stable for long; it’s not supposed to be. A permanently stable life might sound nice but it soon gets boring. Only when we can learn to create emotional stability within us, no matter what is happening in our lives, can we lose weight knowing it can never come back.
Our obsession with weight and perfection has left us ignorant to our natural body. All bodies have a natural and unique shape. We all have a natural weight, size and build but rather than accept that and let it be, we fight to make it match what we perceive to be the perfect body. Our body’s shape and weight also change as we get older. Our metabolism changes and our hormones shift, making natural changes in our bodies. But instead of working with the changes we fight them, arguing against the fact that we cannot have the body of someone half our age. By learning to work with our body, eating what it wants, moving and resting when it wants, listening to what it likes and doesn’t like, we can discover how our body can easily lose the extra weight it doesn’t need and become the shape it is meant to be. Will this be the shape you long for and obsess about? Maybe not, but it will be easy, and it will be without fight. Perhaps you won’t have perfect abs but you will have a body thriving from care and peacefulness with perfect function and a natural, easy weight.
Extract from “Still Overweight? The 6-week course that changes your weight and relationship to food forever”