Do You Think Being Skinnier Will Make You Happier?
Now, THAT is a cut throat question.
Which by the way, the answer can very much be YES.
But I beg you to ask yourself, why do you think it will?
Is it because society has bombarded us with the narrative that SMALLER is BETTER, especially when it comes to women and their bodies?
Is it because you think that if you look a certain way and start getting more attention from the opposite/same sex that that will, in some way, shape or form validate you?
Do you think that by having rock hard abs that in some way makes you more superior to someone else?
None of it matters IF YOU DON’T WORK ON WHATS ON THE INSIDE.
There is a shit tonne of insecurity hiding behind those chiselled abs you see on Instagram.
Now, some may say, it’s well for you Nerissa, you’ve always been quite lean. So therefore, in the eyes of society, i’ve been in a ‘socially acceptable’ body.
But here’s the twist.
I HAVEN’T always been in a 'socially acceptable' body.
Maybe my body type at the moment is ‘fashionable’ (thank you Kardashians….I joke BTW)
Having an arse & hips & a smaller waist, but BY GOD this was NOT fashionable when I was a teenager dealing with horrific body image and being bombarded regularly with pictures of 6ft models, wafer thin & straight up and down like a bean pole.
'The 1990's look suggested that women should be extremely thin with bones protruding out from the skin.
Collar bones, ankles bones and other protrusions were glamourized.
This ideal included height, in that women who were very tall were considered more beautiful.'
Now Nerissa, being 5ft nothing was NEVER going to look like this but by god I tried.
I base a lot of my life choices now around how I want to FEEL, not look.
Ironically, this has resulted in me now being in a 'smaller body’.
More socially acceptable?
Am I cool with that?
I don’t know, I’m at a crossroads at the moment with my view on the narrative we’ve been told since we were kids and I REALLY hate that diet culture is still so engrained in so many of us.
Anyway, I ask myself regularly, with anything I am doing:
Why am I doing this?
Am I enjoying it?
Is it benefitting me - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually?
If the answer is YES, then I crack on.
If the answer is NO, I examine.
I work as a fat loss coach and have coached a LOT of men & women in how to lose body fat. The science behind it all does not take a wizard to comprehend and honestly, if you can understand energy balance, you are fecking flying it.
But how come, even when people hire THE BEST COACH in the world, they buy all the equipment, they have all the plans, they are SO driven to start.....THEY STILL FAIL.
They either don’t start at all or they give up quite early on.
What’s the difference between someone succeeding with a fat loss goal and someone not?
Well, I wish I had a comprehensive answer here but from what I can gather it is a mixture of things, MAINLY all related to mindset.
Dieting starts with MINDSET.
I could write an entire article on things that impact peoples goals: Victim Mentality, Instant Gratification, Negative Thinking, Catastrophizing, Perfectionism….this list is a long one and is for another day.
Something I notice quite early on though when dealing with clients is that it is the clients that come to me with an extremely strong association with WHY they are doing something that tend to achieve their goals.
With anything in life, be it fitness goals, fat loss goals, mass gain goals, career goals, the reason WHY you want to achieve this goal has to be clear & concise and it must align with your values. If you are not clear on these two things then no amount of goal setting will get you to where you want to be.
You need to get very clear on these two things because these are the fundamental drivers behind why you do/want to do anything in life.
What is of most importance to you in your life?
If you had to do a Top 5.
What would be at the top?
Would it be family, friends, human connection, career, success, money, financial freedom, travel, socialising, health & fitness, etc?
Bare with me now as to why this is important.
If we have two women with the same fat loss goal, both the same age and perhaps they are friends, one woman is married and has 2 young children (one new born and a toddler) and the other woman has just launched her own business and is single, chances are their Top 5 will look very different.
This is not to say the second woman doesn’t value her family but maybe her values would be more career and socialising focused, whereas the first woman would probably have her children in the number one slot (this is not me blanket boxing peoples values, maybe the first woman loves a good party but for the sake of this blog and this example, we’ll say it wouldn’t be her number one)
So how does this effect their lifestyle and ultimately their goals?
Well, along with the fact their lifestyles and schedules would be completely different, they are inclined to make their decisions based off what they value the most and so if you gave these two women the exact same training & nutrition plan, even though they may be the same age, weight, height, etc. what they do with that plan will vary greatly due to their priorities!
I say this from a place of compassion, if socialising and eating/drinking out all weekend is a huge value of yours but you also desire fat loss, you have conflicting values and your goals, no matter what they are will not align with both of them.
So no. 1.
Get clear on your values and then you can get clear on your goals!
I got asked a while back by someone - ‘How long do you reckon it would take me to get a 6 pack?
My response - ‘Well, why do you want one?’
Not the response you would expect from a Personal Trainer but stay with me here…
There is so much talk around the importance of goal setting and all the different types of goals people set – short term, long term, outcome, process, SMART. All of which are SO important! But something that is often overlooked when people are setting goals whether they are related to fitness, life, relationships, etc. is they don’t associate the goals with the all-important ‘WHY’?
So many people want to lose weight, get stronger, get fitter, etc., which are all great goals to have but I think it is so important to ask yourself when you are setting a goal, why do you want to achieve this goal and when you do achieve this goal, how will you feel?
We all live such busy lives and when it comes to achieving any goal in life it does take time and some degree of effort! Everyone struggles with days where motivation is low but the difference between someone overcoming that and someone giving up/giving in to the alternative is simply their association with the why they are doing this.
Think of the difference simply between someone saying: ‘I want to lose 4kg’ vs ‘I want to be in better shape so I can play with my kids’, the WHY is tied to a greater emotion in the second example!
There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose ‘weight’ (FAT, your weight is a number on a scales and can fluctuate SO much depending on so many factors) but tie it to something that means something to you.
It really will be the difference between YOU giving up when times get tough or whether YOU will find that inner strength to push through because you know what is waiting for you on the other side!
So how does this all link back to the title?
If you answered YES to the above question, I beg you to DIG DEEP and ask yourself WHY?
If you have a strong WHY and have a valid emotional reason as to why you want a smaller body, then absolutely CRACK ON.
And if it is for health reasons, then that should be a strong enough why in and of itself.
I don’t often chat about BMI & weight but what I will suggest is that you do pay attention to particular health markers because being quite overweight does come with an array of potential health risks and that is NOT something to shy away from.
Raised BMI is a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases such as:
cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), which were the leading cause of death in 2012;
musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints);
So as much as I am a huge advocate for positive body image, I refuse to stand back and see obesity glorified either.
So here's your homework...
Write down your goals.
Then ask WHY.
Then ask WHY again.
Then ask WHY again.
Then ask WHY again.
Then MAYBE, just maybe, you've found your real reason why.