Right and wrong reasons to lose weight
More than 50% of Americans want to lose weight. Are you one of the 50%? If so, have you ever asked yourself why you want to be thinner? It may seem obvious, but today I’m going to talk about some right and wrong reasons to lose weight. Knowing the motivation behind your desire increases your chances of longterm success. Please note: if you don’t care about your longterm health and weight and just want to yo-yo diet, then you may want to stop reading now. This post is for people who want to make lifelong changes to their health.
If you want to lose weight for all the wrong reasons, your chances of backsliding are much greater. Let’s start by taking a look at some of the wrong reasons to lose weight:
An Upcoming Event.
This is probably the most common reason people give when asked why they are losing weight. Whether it’s a wedding, birthday party, reunion, or some other event, we all want to look good if we’re going to a special gathering. We’ll do almost anything to shed a few pounds: eat only cabbage for a week, drink only juice, cut our calories down to 500 a day, or just stop eating altogether. We all know that when you lose ten pounds in a week, you’re mostly losing water weight. And I think we all know that weight is most likely going to jump back on with a vengeance after your special event is over.
The reason for this is that you had no longterm strategy in mind. You weren’t thinking about how you were going to maintain your new weight level after you starved yourself for two weeks. You just wanted to fit into that dress so you could impress your old boyfriend. And so, within a few days of eating “normal” again, you gingerly step on the scale only to discover that you are right back where you were just a few weeks before.
You want to impress someone else.
How many times have you felt like you needed to lose weight so someone else would see you in a different light? Let’s face it: scrolling through Instagram or Twitter or Facebook can be depressing. You see the highlight reel of peoples’ lives and as much as you know that we don’t actually live in filters, you just can’t see beyond the flawless skin and “perfect” bodies. The more you look, the more you feel inadequate, and the more inadequate you feel, the more sick to your stomach you get.
Suddenly, you find yourself wanting to lose weight so that you can be the person others look at on social media and compare themselves to. The problem with this, friends, is your motivation has nothing to do with the truth. Your motivation is to impress someone else, and you cannot control how someone else sees you. You just can’t. If you want to lose weight so someone will think more highly of you, this is not self-care. This is self-mutilation. It may not seem like it from the outside, but being driven to lose weight by something external is sure to end in failure. Because at some point, that external force will disappoint you. Reality will set in, and you’ll realize you will never be that other person. And you’ll recognize that no matter what you do to lose weight, it won’t change other peoples’ opinions of you.
You want to look like ________ (insert celebrity name here).
This might seem obvious, but you’re never gonna look like Beyoncé. Or Cindy Crawford. Or whoever else is Hollywood’s hottest female right now. First of all, let me just remind you, 99.9% of the time, the pictures you see in magazines aren’t even real. Unfortunately, real life doesn’t have photoshop and airbrushing, so what you see is what you get. And if you were to run into any celebrity on the street, I can pretty much guarantee they’re not going to look like they did on the cover of Maxim.
Again, the problem here is that you are being extrinsically motivated. True and lasting change comes from an authentic desire for improvement, and if we’re just wanting change so we can be more like someone else, well, that ain’t gonna work, folks.
So, what are good reasons to lose weight?
Potential health consequences
Whether you currently have heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or are at risk for any of those diseases, those are good reasons to want to lose weight. Ok, we’re all going to die at some point. But don’t we all want to live a better life? Don’t we want to feel better, sleep better, live better? If you’re overweight and know that losing weight could help get you off prescription medications, resulting in less side effects and more freedom, wouldn’t you want to do that?
Being overweight increases your risk for all of the above diseases, as well as cancer, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, reproductive problems, gallstones and more. When you are motivated by your desire to live a longer, healthier life so that you can live better, that is true motivation. You will be able to stick with it longterm, even when you have setbacks, because you are inspired by something bigger and grander than yourself.
To care for your “temple”
I couldn’t write a post on taking care of your body without addressing this. If you are motivated to lose weight because you strongly desire to take care of the one “temple” you’ve been given, you’re on a good path. It doesn’t mean you won’t have setbacks and will never struggle again. It just means that you greatly increase your chances of success.
While nothing in the Bible specifically addresses weight loss, there is much written about the importance of health and taking care of our bodies. The Bible discusses gluttony, as well as making food an idol in our lives. Anything that takes the place of God or becomes our number-one focus is an idol, and thus a sin against God. In the new testament, Paul tells the followers of Jesus that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) You are not your own. You were bought at a price.
Weight loss requires more than a desire to lose weight. In order to gain more balance in our diet, we have to put aside old habits and develop new ones. And of course, while obesity and weight loss are concerns, we need to be careful not to obsess over body image. Once again, anything that becomes the center of our focus before God becomes an idol in our lives.
Ultimately, God desires our hearts. Our society often over-emphasizes outward image, at the expense of inward character. While it’s important to honor God with our bodies, we need to make sure that we’re doing what he has called us to do first and foremost: Love God and love people. And I believe loving others begins with one important thing: loving ourselves. Losing weight because we truly desire to care for our bodies and be physically able to go out and do what God has called us to do is going to result in greater longterm success than any extrinsic motivator can.
Much of this post was inspired by things I learned in my most recent health & wellness certification course through my life coaching program at Light University.
Do you have a heart for helping others? Are you a good listener? Do you enjoy one-on-one conversations? Are you already a lay counselor, pastor or other ministry leader? Maybe life coaching is for you!
Light University has an excellent referral program. If you are interested in starting their Christian life coaching certification process, click HERE and fill out the form. Just put my name and email (Shanti Landon, email@example.com) as the person who referred you. When you register, you will receive your first course for just $99, which is a $700 discount off the current tuition rate.
Miranda L. says
These are great! Are you all finished with your classes now? I would love to hear more about their program, can you give me more info?
Shanti Landon says
Hi, Miranda! I will send you some more info via email!
Thank you for this article. I especially enjoyed the spiritual aspects of treating our bodies as temples. After many years struggling with obesity, I experienced significant weight loss (75 pounds in 6 months and more after) almost 6 years ago. I’d love your opinion on what you think of the steps I took which I wrote here in How to Lose 20 Pounds in 3 Months Using 5 Simple Steps. As you say, these were life changing habits, but I believe they can be helpful for anyone.