“When you do start to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full after years of being on one scheme or another, you will most likely go down a size or several sizes.
Unless you have been eating drastically less than your body needs for years, your weight should stabilise at its natural set point, which will be lower than what you’ve achieved through dieting and bingeing”.
Susie Orbach, “On Eating”
When clients first seek help for their emotion-driven overeating issues, they often think if they can sort out their weight, everything else will be OK.
In this way, therapy can be seen as another weight-loss initiative. There’s sometimes a sense of disappointment that we’re not focusing on weight during sessions and, as a result of this, some clients assume I’m anti-weight loss.
If your additional weight gets in the way of you being able to fully live your life, and you want to reduce in size to feel better, I’m all for that.
What I’m not in favour of is putting pressure on yourself to lose weight while you’re trying to normalise your relationship with food.
There’s a simple reason for this: it doesn’t work.
If a part of you is entrenched in the diet mentality and pressures you to lose weight, you’ll always judge what you’re eating. You can’t normalise your relationship with food if you judge what you eat. You won’t listen to yourself about what you really want and will perpetuate shame about your food choices and your body.
But equally I don’t believe that if you’re no longer dieting your eating has to be chaotic and unstructured, and it’s up to you to find the structure that feels right.
I believe our bodies know what size and shape we’re meant to be and it’s our job to work with them and respect their wisdom.
I don’t believe we’re all meant to be thin.
I refuse to conform to the idea that women’s bodies in particular are supposed to look the same.
I believe in appreciating and valuing our bodies, whatever size they are.
I think the pursuit of body perfection is pointless and a waste of one’s life.
I feel we need to focus less on appearance and more on knowing who we really are.
That’s where the work is.
It’s not about looking good externally so we can feel better about ourselves internally. It’s about working out why we struggle to regulate feelings appropriately and why we don’t feel good about ourselves. It’s then about acting on our own behalf to heal and take care of ourselves, physically and emotionally.
Any weight loss then is a result of improved self-care and valuing ourselves.
That’s how we lose weight naturally and keep it off for good.