Do you ever think it’s unfair that while you have to restrict, refrain, and feel deprived to reach your weight loss goals, other people are out there eating and drinking whatever they want without gaining a single ounce?
I feel you and I’ve been there too. I’ve spent far too long in “unfairness land,” where everything was so much harder for me than everyone else and I was constantly swimming in self-pity and injustice, wishing things were different. And my friends, guess what? Staying there didn’t change my body or genetics, and it sure didn’t make things more “fair.”
If you’re currently in this place too, I invite you to listen in. I’m showing you why believing the thought that “it’s unfair” when it comes to your weight loss journey is never useful, and I’m offering an alternative thought instead that will help you move closer towards appreciation and acceptance of your one and only body.
This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 72.
Welcome to Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you’re a successful woman who is ready to stop struggling with your weight, you’re in the right place. You’ll learn everything you need to know to lose weight for the last time in bitesize pieces. Here’s your host, Master Certified coach, Natalie Brown.
Hello everybody. I had this funny moment at the gym the other day that surprised me and I wanted to share it with you. I work out at Orangetheory a few times a week and I have been for like, five years. And there’s another woman who also works out regularly there who I see frequently.
I don’t know her really, even though I have probably been in class with her hundreds of times at this point, but I don’t know her because I don’t really socialize when I’m there. If you’re familiar with Orangetheory, you know you sign up for a class, it’s one hour, you’re in and out, so it’s not really conducive to socializing.
Plus, I’m not a super social person. I’m more of a close with a few friends kind of a person. So I’m not seeking out opportunities to chat with strangers while I’m there. I’m all business. Anyway, she’s quite petite, very toned, very little body fat, tan, lovely, close to my age I assume, but with the tight skin that I think means she probably didn’t gain 70 pounds with pregnancy or battle her weight for years.
I don’t know what you assume from listening to me talk about myself or seeing pics of me on social media or whatever, but I’m not a tiny, toned, zero percent body fat kind of girl. I still have fat on my body. I have stretch marks from weight gain in my teens and from pregnancy.
I have sagging skin on my thighs. My upper arms jiggle when I hold them up and point at things. I’m strong and healthy, and I’m carrying less physical, mental, and emotional weight but I’m a human and my body shows the evidence of the human life I have lived.
My weight loss did not make my body perfect. It just made it easier for me to move around in the world the way I want to and to run and to tuck shirts in. That’s all. So just to shatter any myths of perfection you have of me or even what you think I’m talking about for you when we talk weight loss here, the goal doesn’t have to be zero percent body fat perfection.
In fact, I hope with all my soul that that’s not it because I don’t think it’s necessary or even possible, and definitely won’t create any more happiness than any other amount of body fat. Any who, I digress from my story.
So I saw her walking out as I was laying on my mat stretching at the end of class, and to be perfectly honestly, I glanced at her butt in her shorts. One that looks very different than mine. And guess what ran through my mind?
First, can we just pause and think about what goes through your mind when you see people like this? Just hold those thoughts with you for a minute. Here’s what I thought. “She has different genetic gifts than I do.” No joke, that is the thought my brain offered me. Just a passing thought.
I almost laughed because that is altogether different, like a 180 from how I used to think when I saw people like that. I was surprised and delighted that that’s where my mind lives now. In the truth, rather than the unfairness. In acceptance, rather than anger, jealously, envy, wishful thinking.
Because that’s what I used to think and feel, that it was unfair that some people didn’t have to work at it. It was unfair that some people could eat whatever they wanted and not gain weight. That it was unfair that I had to restrict and refrain and feel deprived and they could go to Taco Bell at midnight and drink Coke all day and not gain an ounce.
Meanwhile, I was drinking only water and eating carrot sticks instead of tacos and I still hated my body and its size. Holding hands with “it’s unfair” for me was always “I wish.” I wish my legs were longer, I wish my metabolism was faster, I wish I could eat whatever I wanted, I wish I didn’t crave sugar, I wish I had her face, abs, skin, hair, life, et cetera.
Anyone else? Any of you out there living in unfairness land? In the land of self-pity and injustice and wishing things were different than they are? That place where it’s so much harder for you and so much easier for others?
I feel you. I see you. I have been there. There is a path to another place and it is found in your brain. It’s a simple solution as most I offer are, but it’s not always easy to learn to shift to a different way of seeing things. In this case, in the case of your body, your genes, your hair, your body’s reaction or tolerance of certain foods, et cetera, unfair is a thought, a perception, a story our brains tell us about the way things are.
This is different from unfairness in society or the legal system, et cetera. In those cases, there is something to be done, a way to enact change, a path to justice and equality. Still not easy, but it is possible. There isn’t a way to make the way your particular body processes foods fair.
There isn’t a path to justice when it comes to your body shape or your genetics. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. It isn’t possible to make it so everyone’s legs are the same length, or everyone’s body fat percentage is naturally the same.
So to view it as unfair that you have to be conscientious about what you eat if you want to achieve your health goals but your sister gets to eat Captain Crunch nonstop and not even think about it because it doesn’t affect her weight doesn’t get you anywhere but frustrated.
And to think it’s unfair that your husband can just cut out soda for a week and lose 10 pounds but it takes you months of careful planning and mind management to lose the same amount, not speaking from experience or anything, doesn’t change anything. Because it isn’t unfair. It just is. It is the reality. It is the way things are.
There’s nothing to be done to fundamentally change it. We can enact changes to how we are feeding, moving, and taking care of ourselves, and we can change some aspects, like the number on the scale and the shape and size of our bodies, and even our cravings for certain foods and our energy levels and such.
But we can’t change things to become exactly the same as someone else who we think has it better. I will never healthily be a size two. That is not how I was made. I will not ever have size six feet. That is not how I was made. I will not ever have skin that doesn’t scar and freckle easily. That is not how I was made. I will not ever be able to eat endless amounts of sugar and donuts and Dr. Pepper and not gain weight and feel terrible. That’s not how I was made.
What you’ll notice when you think, “This is unfair,” aside from nothing actually changing, no fairness actually being found, is that you feel terrible. You feel hopeless and picked on. You are filled with self-pity, self-loathing, anger even.
And when you think about how your best friend has never dieted and you have been on a decades long one and it’s unfair and you feel self-pity and you’re standing in front of the pantry, what do you eat? And how does that help the situation?
Believing that the body we’re in is unfair doesn’t change the body we’re in. And when we are thinking we have been given the short end of the stick with our body, we start thinking other unhelpful things like, “It’s unfair that I can’t eat certain things and I have to watch what I eat,” which are both lies. We can eat whatever we want.
What we don’t want to admit is the consequences of that choice for us, for our bodies. When we think about how it’s unfairly we are focused on what isn’t, what’s missing, what we are perceiving as wrong, instead of accepting and embracing and working with what is.
And that is all we have actual control over. What we think, feel, and do about what is. I’m not advocating for putting on rose-colored glasses and just faking a love fest for yourself at all times. You can still think it sucks that you have high blood pressure or are pre-diabetic or have stretch marks. You don’t have to love it.
But there is a difference between thinking, “I don’t love it but I accept that it is,” versus, “It’s not fair that it is this way.” The difference is in how it makes you feel and show up when you think one versus the other. Try them on. See for yourself.
If you think about something you accept versus thinking about something you think is unfair, totally different experience. Wishful thinking is more of the same. Wishing doesn’t change anything. It’s the doing that changes things. It’s turning our wishing into an action plan that changes things.
But watch what you wish for. It’s one thing to think, “I wish I had a car that got better gas mileage,” and then research cars that are more efficient and figure out how much it will cost or how much the monthly payment will be and how much you can trade in your current car for it and then take steps to make that happen.
It’s another thing to wish that you could eat whatever you want and not gain weight. That’s a genie wish. And as much as I would like to believe that Aladdin is real and it isn’t just an animated Disney movie with awesome music and Robin Williams genius, it’s not. Genies are pretend and they can’t grant your wishes.
With that wish, there’s nothing to be done. No way to make the wish a reality. No action plan to change your DNA. You are not a person who can eat whatever they want and not gain weight. Fighting it or wishing it away is a futile endeavor.
I used to look at people like my gym friend and think both of these things. It’s not fair that she looks like that/has that body, and I wish I did. And I felt awful and mad and disempowered. Step one is moving from it’s unfair to it just is. Next level is where my brain is now. Looking for and noticing the differences and feeling gratitude for the gifts I have that are my own.
Not from the perspective of them being better or worse than someone else’s, but just appreciating and accepting that they are mine. I may have skin that stretches and scars and sags, but it also holds me together and it protects me and it bears the evidence of my parents and grandparents who I came from and my children that came from me.
I may not have long legs but I have legs, and they are strong and stable and allow me to walk and run and sit and stand. I have my own unique gifts and strengths, and my own unique struggles and shortcomings, and that is true. That is real. That is what is.
I wish for things I want and I make them happen. And I acknowledge that the present is where my power lies, in accepting and embracing what is. How can you do this for you? Move from it’s unfair to it is. And then maybe from it is to it is and I’m grateful for my unique gifts. I challenge you to at least think about how this shift might change things.
Do you have questions about weight loss, mindset, food, anything? I’d love to hear from you. I am planning a Q&A podcast in the future. I have some awesome questions so far that I think will be super helpful for all of you. If you have a question, chances are so do many others. You’re not the only one.
So head to itbeginswithathought.com/question and ask away. We will learn so much from each other’s struggles. See you soon.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you want to learn more about how to lose weight for the last time, come on over to itbeginswithathought.com. We’ll see you here next week.