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Five Ws of Weight Loss: Important Questions to Ask Yourself

4. When will it be okay? I once worked with a man who slaved tirelessly to lose 15 pounds. He exercised obsessively, starved himself, became a fanatic about supplements, drank diet soft drinks and coffee throughout the day to blunt his appetite, even took up smoking to blunt his appetite. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But here’s what’s really crazy: once he lost 15 pounds, he wanted to lose another 5. (I should pause here to tell you that the term “crazy” was his, not mine). He felt that being 5 pounds under his goal gave him a buffer, in case he gained a few pounds back.

I realized then that, no matter how much weight he lost, he wasn’t going to be satisfied. It would never be okay, because it wasn’t about his weight, or his body. It was about his sense of self; he was depressed and dissatisfied with his life. He disliked himself, and no amount of weight loss was ever going to make that okay.

When will it be okay for you? Ask yourself that question, then listen softly and quietly for the answer. It might surprise you.

5. Why do you want to lose weight? Ask yourself with gut-level honesty: why do you want to lose weight? Is it because the doctor told you your weight was harming your health, or because that little red two-piece swimsuit went on sale at Neiman Marcus? Is it for your wife, your health, your ego, your high school reunion, your best friend’s wedding? Is it because you’ve decided the ten extra pounds around your middle no longer serves you, or because you still want to fit into the size 4 jeans you wore in your senior year of high school? Once you’re honest with yourself, you can decide just how important it is to you to lose weight and where it fits in the grand scheme of your life.

6. How will shedding pounds serve the world? We’ve already touched on how it will serve you. Now, take it to a deeper level: how will losing weight make a difference in the world around you? Perhaps being lighter and slimmer will boost your health, and make you feel more confident, inspired, energetic and passionate; in turn, that will positively affect your children, your mate, your co-workers. There’s no right answer here; it’s just about being aware and exploring possibilities, and perhaps understanding how your own personal goals fit into the world.

Related:
10 Things I’d Love to Tell My Younger Self
6 “Healthy” Eating Choices to Rethink
How to Become an Intuitive Eater

Read more: Blogs, Body Image, Diet & Nutrition, Health, Inspired Eating, Self-Help, , , , ,

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Lisa Turner

Lisa Turner is a food writer, intuitive eating coach, and nutrition consultant in Boulder, Colorado. In her consulting practice Lisa combines her training and degrees in nutrition, mind-body practices and Food Psychology, to help clients explore both what to eat and why they eat. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, visit InspiredEating.com. Lisa is also the developer of The Healthy Gourmet iPhone recipe app; for more information, visit TheHealthyGourmet.net.

70 comments

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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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