THE BLOG
08/06/2014 12:26 pm ET | Updated Oct 05, 2014

Weighting

© Rick Elkins via Getty Images

You have a reunion coming up. There is a friend's wedding in the near future. Your family's beach vacation is around the corner. Your intention is to "lose a few." Time passes. You go to visit your family. They say "You look great." Relief. Worse: They don't say anything. Shame... you should have worked harder on this.

We "weight." We have learned to associate the upcoming events, celebrations and vacations with a need to improve our bodies. We expect (maybe because of past experiences) that acceptance from others is conditional, and that our bodies mean something about who we are.

"Weighting" shifts our attention away from our highest goals. The gym trumps our social life. Weight loss becomes the first necessary step to a better life. The dieting cycle puts our creative ventures on hold. It feels like focusing on weight loss is the right thing to do, and everything else is secondary. How many times have your plans for weight loss taken priority over your plans for your life?

Because the truth is: There is always an event coming up. There is always an approving or disapproving person. Striving is exhausting and usually cyclical, meaning that we march to the drum of a dream, over and over again, never really feeling like we are getting anywhere.

Of course, we don't want this for ourselves, although we put up with it. We certainly don't want to hold our loved ones to these standards. We don't want this for our daughters. What we need to know is that it's okay to let go.

The fact that we don't know this is "feminism's one true failure," says Cheryl Strayed in her book, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love from Dear Sugar. She goes on to say, "We claimed the agency, we granted ourselves the authority, we gathered the accolades, but we never stopped worrying about how our asses looked in our jeans."

Unfortunately, going on a diet is like buying a lottery ticket. We think, when I lose weight, I'm going to _____. We hope and pray that it will bring us the life we want, but we are often disappointed, because dieting doesn't work for the majority of people who try it and your body is not really the problem. We think that dieting is going to lead to improved health, but it typically causes more harm than good. We often end up heavier, and these failed weight loss attempts impact our sense of self-worth. In the meantime, our quality of life suffers.

Moving away from dieting and the pursuit of the thin ideal is a big, paradigm-shifting challenge. But is it really possible to hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we love? We doubt it. So here's the question to ponder, the one we are continually asking people: If you lived in a compassionate, weight-neutral world, what would you want to do to take care of yourself and your body? What is the first thing that comes to mind? I bet you have an answer.

The responses we have heard from women of all ages and sizes is that they want to have more sex, buy some clothes that make them feel beautiful today, move their bodies for pleasure and learn to love and take care of themselves as much as they are willing to love and take care of others. These answers are rooted in a common desire: to end the obsession with their body and enjoy life more. They don't want to "weight" anymore. They never really did.

It isn't easy to accept a body that you have loathed for years, but you can start to respect it today. Letting go of the desire to lose weight doesn't mean giving up on your health or your chance to like yourself. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, moving towards respecting your body at it's current weight and taking good care of yourself (because every body benefits from good self care) paves the way for a life you want to be in. And your life is happening right now. Doesn't it make sense that treating yourself with kindness would support a happy and healthy life?

Consider the call to live beautifully in the skin you are in. Know that the less you are trying to please the eyes of the world, the more you will find pleasure, expression and love for yourself.

Trying to shrink our bodies diminishes our capacity to show up in our lives. You will never be done if the size of your jeans comes before self-love. When we love ourselves, self-care comes much more naturally.

We are at our most whole, our most powerful, when we allow ourselves to be all that we are, right now. Life is happening right now. We can free ourselves right now.

The weighting game is over.

Approval is not part of the process.

Subscribe to the In(formation) email.
The reality of being a woman — by the numbers.