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Five Ws of Weight Loss: Important Questions to Ask Yourself

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Five Ws of Weight Loss: Important Questions to Ask Yourself

In Journalism 101, we learned the importance of the Five Ws (and one H) in gathering information. Answering the Ws (and H)–who, what, where, when, why (and how)–is considered essential in understanding the full story. What would happen if you applied them to your weight loss goals? Some Ws (and an H) to consider:

1. Who is it that wants to lose weight? Who is the “you” that’s dieting? Another way to ask this is, who are you, inside your body? The bottom line is, your body is a place for your soul to live. That’s it. Should it be comfortable, healthy, happy? Absolutely. But losing 10 pounds is not the call of your soul. It’s the call of your ego.

I once knew a woman who could light up a room just by walking through the door. Her eyes literally sparkled. When I spoke to her, her attention was so fully and completely on me, that it was as if no one had ever spoken before. I knew she would remember every word I said–and she did. She was so vibrant, deep, warm, compassionate, that it was a very long time before I noticed she was what some people might call “heavy.” Actually, I don’t think she ever noticed she was what some people would call heavy.

Likewise, I knew a woman who was wildly self-assured, sexy, vibrant, alive. She was in her mid 40s, tall, big boned; she weighed close to 185 pounds, and she literally turned heads walking down the street. Her secret: Inside, she loved herself, she was healthy and she felt good. That was enough for her. She knew who she really was, and that her body was comfortable, well-nourished–even if it wasn’t petite.

2. What would happen if you never lost weight? We set so many conditions on our love for ourselves. Unconsciously (or not) one of those conditions may be our weight. “I’ll feel better about myself when I’ve lost 20 pounds,” or “If I can just get rid of this last 5 pounds, I’ll be able to get on with my life.” As far as you know, this is the only life you have, and it’s happening right now. What would happen if you lived it right now, as you are, weighing what you do and wearing the size you wear? Can you love yourself anyway? Pause here, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and ask yourself that question. See what comes up. If the answer is “no,” it may be that learning how to love yourself is a bigger priority than losing 20 pounds.

3. Where do you want to be in ten years? Answer that question, and you’ll have a better sense of your reason for being here. Write down where you’ll be in terms of physical health, family, relationship, spiritual practices, career, home, travel–whatever comes up for you. Chances are really good that “I’ll be X pounds lighter” will come up on your list. That’s okay. Just recognize all the other things that are on your “where I’ll be” list.

How much time, mental energy and passion are you devoting to those aspects of your life, compared to counting calories and obeying the bathroom scale? Maybe you can see where weight loss falls on your list of dreams, goals and visions, and maybe you can assign it a different priority. Losing weight is not your life’s work. Your life’s work is to love, to serve, to be honest, to develop personal integrity, to be kind, to raise healthy children, to grow spiritually, to adore yourself. Which is not to say you can’t choose to shed some excess baggage. You’ll just do it with a sense of perspective.

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Lisa Turner

Lisa is a chef and nutritionist with more than 30 years of professional experience and formal training in food, nutrition and product development. She’s written five books on food and nutrition and is the creator of The Healthy Gourmet iPhone app, and has been a featured blogger for many national sites, including Huffington Post and Whole Foods Market. Lisa is a faculty instructor at Bauman College of Culinary Arts and also teaches food and nutrition classes and workshops to individuals and corporations. She's a black belt in Ninjutsu, an active volunteer in the Boulder Valley school lunch system, and an avid wild food forager.


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9:48AM PDT on Oct 27, 2011

Thanks for this - it's very compassionate. I think it's often a balance in life of being kind to ourselves, and not letting ourselves get away with things! It's that TS Eliot thing of 'Teach us to care and not to care.'

8:27AM PST on Mar 7, 2011

forgive me ... I have little time, so I have just come to gather some points for the animals ...

6:39PM PDT on Sep 14, 2010

thank you

7:47AM PDT on Jun 21, 2010

Thanks, Lisa. I felt so much relieve after reading your article. I wanted to lose weight mainly because of my mother-in-law daily comment. after all i recognize I am not very fat. She do it just to irritate me, thanks again.

6:13PM PDT on Jun 18, 2010

I just feel better when I don't have to carry an extra 20 lbs around.

4:15AM PDT on Jun 12, 2010

Thanks for giving me something to think about. As a feminist woman I struggle with being caught up in our dominant society's obsession with appearance and have my own bod image issues despite my feelings that our culture is toxic in its policing of body shape and size...

3:02AM PDT on Jun 7, 2010

Lovely article, well balanced and made so much sense to me - thank you so much!

7:20PM PDT on Jun 6, 2010

I always lose weight. So I don't have to worry. Whatever I gain I try to lose most of it back.

11:38PM PDT on Jun 5, 2010

Do not fall into the trap where you can eat as much or whatever you want, so you are heavier than you used to be.
Remember if you carry on alont this path, eventually you might end up obese!
Would you like to be that?
Of course you can get women that are overweight but are so poised and self-assured, that you do not notice it.
However, are there many women like that?
I doubt it!
It is still important to look after your health. We all know by now what is it that makes us "fat" We do not really want to fall in that category!

3:54PM PDT on Jun 3, 2010

Thank you for the article, and to all those who've commented on it. I appreciate the shift of perspective from focusing on how many kilos I weigh/gain/lose to what kind of person I am and lifestyle I choose.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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