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  • Mitchell Rothbardt

Freedom From Weight Loss

Happy Independence Day! I know that these are some difficult times in our country for a whole host of reasons, but I know we can all agree on two things:

  1. We are incredibly lucky to live in this country. It’s not perfect, but this freedom of speech thing is pretty great.

  2. Pupppies are the best!

Happy Independence Day Puppies

Yaaay Puppies!!


In the spirit of Independence Day I’d like to talk about freedom from something a little different.

Freedom from weight loss.

When I talk to people about what they want to do in the gym, the number one answer BY FAR is “lose weight”.

People talk to me all the time about their concerns over putting on a few pounds over the course of a weekend.

People who have gotten stronger, feel better, have less pain and have shown all sorts of health improvements still let the number on a scale determine their happiness.

There are a lot of problems with all of this. We are so conditioned to think that getting smaller is the only goal worth achieving that we never actually ask ourselves if we really want it and if we do, why.

What happens is that since we never really ask ourselves these questions we don’t realize that we don’t really know what we want which means we never reach whatever arbitrary goal we kind of set for ourselves. This leads to all sorts of issues with self-confidence, self-worth and most importantly self-knowledge. In other words, how well do we really know ourselves?

OK. This is getting pretty deep. Let me give you one more chance to take either the red pill or blue pill.

In other words, do you actually want to dig a little bit into yourself, thereby giving you a much better chance at success or do you just want to keep doing what you’re doing?

(Honestly, I don’t remember which pill is supposed to do what but I hope you decide to keep reading.)

Before we go on, let me say this:

NO ONE WANTS TO LOSE WEIGHT.

THEY WANT WHAT THEY THINK LOSING WEIGHT WILL GET THEM.

In other words, people want to feel better, look better, get off some medication or whatever else, and they think that losing weight will get them these things. It’s not the weight loss itself that really matters.

For the record you can do all of the things I wrote above and a lot more without focusing on losing weight.

As a matter of fact, focusing on losing weight alone has been shown to result in very little weight loss!

Sounds a little crazy, huh?

Let’s get back to that freedom I was talking about earlier by answering a simple question:

How would you feel if you didn’t care about losing weight at all?

Why don’t you let that sink in for a minute.

How would you feel if you didn’t care about losing weight at all?

Would that change anything for you?

Would it feel like a weight was lifted off your shoulders?

Would it feel like maybe you could start thinking about other things that may make your life more fulfilling?

Would it feel like you could finally start doing some things you want to do without any guilt or second-thoughts?

Maybe after reading that you’re thinking to yourself something like, “This sounds fine, but I can’t do that.”

Why not?

What’s getting in your way?

Notice that I’m not saying that you can’t have goals. You should have goals. It’s just that your goals need to be important and meaningful and empowering for you. Losing weight is none of that.

Here’s where you need to do some work. Why do you want to lose weight? Really. Dig deep. Do you want to get healthier? Why? What would being healthier let you do that you aren’t doing now? How would that improve your life?

When we talk about health, these answers can come pretty easily. “If I’m healthier I can play more with my grandkids. I can get off these medications. I can travel and go for longer hikes, etc.” It’s pretty easy to see how all of that can improve your life, right? It’s pretty easy to see why this would be important to you.

Can you start to understand how much more powerful it is to think of your goals in terms of doing these things than just stepping on a scale? You’re not trying to lose 10 pounds, you’re trying to be able to hike another mile! You’re not trying to lose weight, you’re trying to be able to play with your kids longer.

Let’s get even a little deeper and likely a bit more personal.

As much as we want to be healthier, the driving force around weight loss is about one thing for most people, particularly women:

Looking better.

I’m not going to turn this into a whole thing about images in the media, etc. There is already a metric ton of evidence and writing about the damage that our media does to women and girls in terms of self-image. Hint: It’s not good.

Castro Valley Fitness Freedom from Weight Loss

It is drummed into girl’s heads from a very early age:

Smaller is better.

You must lose weight.

You must be attractive to a man.

You must not appear too strong.

Needless to say, this is all garbage.

We can even agree that this is all garbage.

That doesn’t make it any easier to disregard emotionally when we’ve been force-fed it all our lives.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong about wanting to look better, but I want you to ask yourself these questions and be very honest with your answers:

Why do you want to look better? What would looking better let you do that you aren’t doing now? How would that improve your life?

Think of the answers you just gave and look for anything that sounded something like, “I don’t like myself and if I look better, I will.”

If you found that kind of answer you need to understand looking better is not going to make you happy or like yourself any more than you already do. (Honestly, I really hate writing “looking better” because that is such an incredbily subjective term and in these cases is almost always defined as whatever societal norms and the media define as attractive. Let’s just agree that it’s an extremely flawed term but one that gets the point across of what I’m trying to say without any specific persons value judgements getting in the way.)

If you found that you answered something about looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend, again that’s perfectly fine, but not if you feel that you aren’t worthy of one until you “look better”.

Ultimately, this is an incredibly emotional and complex subject but if I could sum up everything I’m trying to say in two sentences it would be this:

Stop trying to lose weight before you do some important work on yourself to find out what your real motivation and values around weight loss and your body are. The weight loss itself means essentially nothing.

I know this is some pretty deep stuff, but it is very important for so many people. It is the reason so many are unhappy and feel unworthy and/or like failures. This just compounds the problem.

I hope this opens the door to how you think about weight loss and being able to free yourself from its real grip on you.

I would love to know how you feel about it.

Thanks for reading.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, Egoscue PAS Castro Valley Fitness at 2861 Grove Way 510-755-9191 Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com

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