If you’re reading this, it probably means you think you need to lose weight. Perhaps you are one of the many Americans who is chronically dissatisfied with your weight, always believing you have at least a couple of pounds to lose. Or maybe your weight has gone up as the result of lifestyle changes, stress eating, or the loss of ability to exercise. If you’re in your late 30s or older, the simple act of celebrating a birthday can bring on the weight as your metabolism slows and testosterone levels decrease with age, while cortisol and other hormones conspire to make weight gain seem inevitable.
Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of dissatisfaction with your weight and/or body, there is one simple rule of weight loss which, if followed precisely, will bring about the change you want. This rule does not involve calorie restriction or training for marathons. This rule does not require juice fasting or eating only pineapples or adding bacon to every meal. I will not tell you to drink 8 glasses of water daily—though that is an excellent thing to do. This rule also does not stipulate you must be vegan, though that, too, is an excellent idea. You will not have to take any supplements or learn “food combining” or give up fats or carbohydrates, or eat protein until your kidneys fail. This one simple rule is so simple you won’t believe it works. But I promise you it does. Here is that rule: Love your body.
Oh, I can hear you groaning. I can see you rolling your eyes. You want to be told to do something diet book-ish. You want to hear that interval training will burn up calories like crazy. You want that one magic ingredient that dissolves body fat while sculpting muscle. You want to do something. Well, I am not only telling you what to do, but because I am fairly certain you have no idea how to do it, I am also giving you the how-to.
This is the 7-Step Plan to Attaining and Maintaining Your Ideal Weight Effortlessly, aka Love Your Body:
- Get sticky pads of various sizes. Get a bunch of Sharpies in various colors that you like.
- Write out on the stickies: “I love my my beautiful body.” “Thank you for being such a wonderful body.” “Thank you, beautiful body, for all the amazing things you do.” “I love and appreciate my body.” “My body is beautiful.” “My beautiful body is healthy and strong.” “I am grateful for a beautiful, vibrant body.” “My beautiful body is the perfect design to do fun things.”
- Put the stickies everywhere: On your mirrors, in your car, on the fridge, above your bed, on your desk, on your home’s door, on cabinets, in drawers and closets. Stick stickies on every surface. And read them over and over.
- Every time you think or say something negative about your body or weight, say—either silently or aloud: “Cancel that, Universe, I love my beautiful body. Thank you for my beautiful, strong, healthy body.”
- Take a moisturizer you love—one that makes you feel luxurious—and slather it on your body each night. Do this slowly, with intention. Feel the reality of your body, your bones and sinew, your muscles. If you feel pain or tenderness allow your hands to linger on those places while visualizing healing light restoring you to perfect health.
- Write a gratitude list to your body every morning. Here are some examples: I am grateful my body is able to walk my dog. I am grateful I am able to chase my toddler child or grandchild around the park. I am grateful my beautiful body is able to do amazing things in yoga. I am grateful my beautiful body is pain-free. I am grateful my beautiful body is willing to heal.
- Affirm or pray for the willingness to take whatever other steps may be necessary to achieve your ideal weight as you discard every single diet and nutrition book you own.
The truth is, whatever the problem, the solution is always more love, not less. I’m willing to bet if you think you need to lose weight you’ve been hating on your body, looking at yourself in the mirror with some level of disgust. You’ve been berating yourself, forcing yourself to exercise when you’re ill or injured to burn off calories of foods you wish you hadn’t eaten. You’ve called yourself all kinds of awful names. But it’s time to admit that if berating and scolding and running yourself ragged worked, you would be your idea of perfect by now.
It’s time to try something entirely new: Love. According to the Buddha—and I’m paraphrasing here—no one deserves your love more than you do.
With self-love as your foundation, making changes is much easier. I’m not going to validate that nonsense in The Secret, where the author says she visualized herself to her ideal weight while lying on her sofa eating bon-bons. That’s ridiculous. If you eat things that are unnatural and unhealthy, and your body doesn’t know what to do with them because they are unnatural, most likely you will carry extra weight. If you eat a lot of calories without having a high metabolism or activity level, you’re probably not going to lose weight. You likely will have to make changes to your food and exercise plans. But, the first change you need to make is from self-loathing to self-love.
The more you love yourself, the better you treat yourself. As you let go of processed, packaged foods and incorporate more veggies and whole grains into your food plan, your tastebuds change. You begin to crave healthy foods. As you love yourself more, you are better able to tolerate bodily sensations, and will not feel the need to eat the point of being numb. You will seek healthier alternatives for dealing with anger, fear, loneliness, dissatisfaction, and boredom.
In case you’re wondering, I know this 7-Step method works because I used it to attain my ideal weight. If you know me personally, you know I am dogged by multiple addictions, most of which I’ve been in recovery from for decades. Food was my last bastion of insanity. I overate, under ate, exercised myself to a complete breakdown of my immune system. Starved my 5 foot 6 inch frame down to 106 pounds. Gorged myself up to 148 pounds. Then starved it back down. Over and over again. And hated on my body regardless of my weight. I thought about my body and my dissatisfaction with it all the time. I kept detailed food journals, knew the calories of everything I put in my mouth, owned 23 diet books. I tried the Zone, Eat for Your Blood Type, Atkins, South Beach, McDougal, Cabbage Soup, Grapefruit, Mediterranean, lemon water cleanses, beet fasts, pineapple fasts, multiple tiny meals, skipping breakfast, skipping lunch, skipping dinner, protein shakes, not eating at all, eating until I was so stuffed all I could do was lie down and loathe myself. I had absolutely no peace and no consistency with my weight until I began loving and appreciating my body.
Today, I am 55 years old and I weigh 125 pounds. For the past 7 years my weight has varied between 123 and 127 pounds, which is what I consider to be my ideal healthy range for my height, frame, and activities. I’m in recovery for my eating disorder. But I never would have had the willingness to seek recovery if I hadn’t first started to love my body exactly the way it was at that time. I stopped hating on myself, and wrote out my affirmation and gratitude lists about my body. I put stickies everywhere to remind me to appreciate my body. I learned to love myself as is and make changes from a place of self-acceptance, rather than self-criticism.
It’s okay to love yourself exactly as you are and still desire something else for yourself. It’s okay to love yourself regardless of how you look or what you do or say. It’s okay to ease up on the self consternation and appreciate yourself instead.
Whatever the problem, the solution is always more, not less, love.