Is your desire to lose weight a substitute for something else you want in life?

Do you sometimes struggle to articulate how you really want to feel without using the words “weight loss”? 

If so, you’re not alone! 

A lot of folks search for Intuitive Eating as a path to finding freedom from food and body image struggles. Many of my clients are also hoping to lose weight as well. And, there’s something interesting that I’ve learned in the past 17 years doing this work, and that is: 

There is much more going on here than just weight and the desire to shrink the body. Sometimes however, it is about weight loss (more on that later) but oftentimes, when I hear “I want to lose weight,” I use my decoding methods to read between the lines. What someone is often trying to convey needs to be understood and appreciated using a lens to decipher the symbolic meaning hidden in the desire. 

Oftentimes when people express a desire to lose weight they are trying to express or articulate something else they’re wanting in their life. 

They don’t have another way to describe what it is they’re looking for without using weight loss as a fill-in word or an umbrella term. Some things that people want (and sometimes mean) when they say “I want weight loss” are:

  • To feel more confident
  • To be able to get a new job or change careers
  • To find a lover or new partner
  • To feel or have more energy
  • To feel loved
  • To feel desired by their partner
  • To feel more attractive, sexier, more desirable
  • To be more adventurous
  • To be more active 
  • To feel less marginalized or oppressed 
  • To feel seen, heard and respected
  • To wear different clothes they actually like 
  • To feel accepted by family and others

Why are we convinced its weight loss we want, and not these other things? 

It’s “normal” to desire weight loss in our weight and diet obsessed culture. The diet industry is over 80 billion dollars strong and it preys on our insecurities and heavily markets /sells us the belief that weight loss = success, love, happiness, acceptance, belonging. You’ve been lead to believe that the only way to achieve these things is by shrinking down the size of your body. Weight stigma also impacts your beliefs about bodies in general as well as your own. Much of this is unconscious conditioning. The dominant weight centric paradigm has you convinced that it’s your job to spend your life sculpting and shrinking your body to fit some version of what you think is “ideal” in order to get your needs and wants satisfied. It reminds me of hamsters that keep spinning on the same wheel going nowhere fast. Because the truth is, we never “arrive,” we never feel “happy” even if we reach the goal weight, there’s always something else to chase. If the external (weight/body) really made us feel happy, at peace, good enough, worthy of love, we wouldn’t have to keep searching for next thing. 

As a nutrition therapist, I respect that everyone has their own lived experience when it comes to their desire to change their body size/shape. I would never talk someone out of their desire to lose weight; I always trust their own judgement and lived experience. While it’s unethical (because the data doesn’t support long term efficacy) to endorse “intentional weight loss”, this doesn’t mean that I am anti- weight loss per se. Instead of directly focusing on “weight,” the focus is on behaviors with food/body. My role is to help folks see if there are hidden codes and messages embedded in their desire to lose weight (change size/shape of their bodies). 

What if you could have and feel all of the things you want to have and feel without having to change the size and shape of your body? 

Are you putting some part of your life on hold until you reach your weight goals? 

What else might your desire to lose weight be a desire of? 

Do you believe it’s possible to access what you want and need without having to shrink your body?

What if feeling more confident, more loved and sexier was possible without the pursuit of weight loss? 

When you say to yourself: “I want to lose weight,” could this perhaps mean you want or need something else? 

If you want to dig deeper here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  1. If you had the body you desired, how would your life be different? 
  2. How do you imagine you would feel if you had the body you desired? Why? 
  3. How would you BE different? 
  4. What would you DO differently? 
  5. What would you HAVE different in your life compared to now? 
  6. What is getting in the way of you taking steps to access what you want now in your life?
  7. What would you need to know, learn or understand in order to pursue what you want without pursuing weight loss?

Grab a journal and get curious. There is a lot more to explore than just focusing your goals on weight loss. I know it’s hard to break out of this spell, but it is worth your time if you feel defeated from dieting. Finding the internal needs, wants, and desires you long for will help you to break out of the dieting cycle so that you can find lasting peace and freedom forever. If you need some 1:1 support I can help you decode the hidden messages and meaning found hidden in your desires to lose weight, book a free call with me here

Much love,

Karen Louise

Your “anti-diet” dietitian since 2005

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Karen Louise Scheuner, MA, RDN

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