Lets say that for whatever reason you have decided you would like to lose some weight. And, you have decided this for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with image or vanity. Sure you may also feel you would like to fit in to your clothes a bit better which may make you feel a bit better about yourself and that is ok too. Perhaps you feel really uncomfortable in your body. Perhaps your thighs are chaffing in the summer causing distress, perhaps you are having trouble moving the way you would like to move. There may be a million reasons why you feel you would like to lose weight or manage your weight.
If you could for a moment put aside your thoughts about how you look or how you feel you should look. Put aside trying to compete with Instagram images or award show nominees in the must have latest gowns. Put aside all the commentary you may hear from loved ones, friends, your medical specialist, your siblings about your weight. Putting aside all the ads urging you to lose weight, you still feel within yourself you would like to lose weight in order to feel comfortable and healthier.
One day you bravely, and I mean this with all sincerity as it is really brave to ask for help. Now, with no malice or harm meant you are told to embrace your body, love the body you have that you ought to learn to live within that body, and that trying to change it is falling prey to an unreasonable societal expectation and you really shouldn’t try to change anything just love who you are. That it is wrong to focus on weight loss.
What do you do? Who do you trust? Now you feel wrong either way. You feel you don’t want to be the weight you are but that you are wrong for not just accepting it.
As a counsellor and coach working in the field of weight/ loss/management I feel torn. Of course I want my clients to feel good about them selves and love their bodies or at least accept their bodies. But I also want them to feel it is totally their right to ask for help. Is it not possible to love ones self or feel good about ones self but still have the right to lose some weight if you feel you need to in order to prevent or help manage diabetes, sleep apnoea, fertility, mobility? Or a myriad of other physical or mental concerns?
I must be absolutely clear here, I am not saying that you are not worthwhile at the weight you are, I am not saying that losing weight validates you and shows you are successful or in control.
I just want my clients to feel they are entitled to, and deserve absolute compassion and respect to help manage their weight if that is what they want. If they decide to seek help, they deserve nothing but support and assistance. Not judgment based on an ideology.
Ginette Lenham is a counsellor/psychotherapist and coach specialising in complex weight related issues especially when an illness may be the cause of excess weight gain or weight loss or when weight gain or loss has caused illness. She also teaches a weight management course called the “Science and Sustainability of Weight loss’ and teaches counselling and communication skills to students studying nutrition