Last week I talked about how you can’t create happiness or achieve lasting weight loss by focusing directly on those as your goals. Instead happiness and weight loss are the result of focus on aspects of wellbeing that support their creation. That is, you don’t find them – they find you.
Now let’s talk about the relationship between happiness and weight. Most women believe that weight loss will cause happiness. And that the resulting happiness caused by the weight loss will then lead to other life successes such as finding the right partner or getting a better job.
Indeed weight loss can result in happiness. In our thin obsessed society it’s easy to see how those whose body size exceeds the ideal are challenged daily. Being thinner does make life significantly easier. And that ease does support happy mood.
Unfortunately happiness tied to weight is fleeting. When the weight returns the happy mood disappears. This is what is happening when your day is ruined after experiencing a tight button or a number on the scale above what you wish.
Tying your weight to feeling happy reinforces the dieting cycle and leaves you believing that happiness can only return if and when you lose weight again. Even if you lose weight and keep it off you can never win this game because the goal posts change with weight change. Therefore, a weight that made you feel happy in the past morphs into a weight that now makes you feel unhappy. Additionally when you wait for future success to result from the happiness of weight loss you risk spending your life in a holding pattern.
Basing our happiness on something as subjective, changeable, and fleeting as weight is not a recipe for long term success. Weight on any given day is the result of many factors – most of which are outside of our control – such as your monthly cycle, water retention, or shifts in body proportion that are normal to aging.
The truth is that happiness that is independent of weight serves us better. Here’s how:
It’s long been documented that happiness leads to better health. Emerging research now points to health practices as supporting increased happiness. This creates a positive feedback cycle. These supportive practices include rest, physical activity, and nutrition, as well as such things as pleasure, savoring, mindfulness, connection, gratitude, positive emotion, and using your strengths.
Here is where weight comes in – both happiness and overall health lead to the most favorable conditions for achieving long term weight loss and weight stability. Therefore, focus on supportive aspects of wellbeing will lead to greater happiness, better health, and ultimately your healthiest weight.
While losing weight might lead to feeling happy in the short term, letting go of the idea that you will only be happy when you lose weight can create the conditions for true flourishing. It frees you from the magical thinking that all future success and happiness depends on your weight, and motivates you to focus on things that are within your control.
Turning your focus away from weight loss and onto supportive aspects of wellbeing will leave you not only happier, but also healthier, and possibly thinner too.
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This week I’m reading The Binge Cure – 7 Steps to Outsmart Emotional Eating By Nina Savelle-Rocklin, Psy.D. Dr. Nina as she calls herself provides much insight into binging and other emotional eating. It’s an easy read and you’ll no doubt pick up some good tips.
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