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3 Spiritual Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight

emotional eating Jan 14, 2022
woman on top of the scale

Growing up, we had this interesting morning ritual at my house.

Every morning we’d get up, walk over to the bathroom, pee, get naked, reach underneath the vanity to pull the scale out, then weigh ourselves. At the breakfast table, we’d loudly proclaim that morning’s number to the rest of the family.

Even though I was quite young, I could already observe that whenever her number went down, my mum seemed rather pleased with herself — but whenever the number went up, not so much. And so, while she wasn’t directly commenting on my number, the message I took away from witnessing this important ritual every morning is that: if I wanted to be happy, I needed to be skinny.

It set me up for a lifetime of trying diet after diet in a desperate attempt to fit my butt into a smaller jeans size — only to gain all the weight back (and more) whenever the 6-week ab shred / bikini challenge / insert-other-marketing-gimmick-here would come to an end.

I found myself stuck in this cycle for over 20 years, until a few years ago I suddenly thought: “Maybe there’s something more to this”.

This realisation led me down the long and winding road of personal development and spiritual healing, during which I discovered that the physical weight on our bodies is often a symbolic representation of the mental and emotional weight we carry in our life.

The body is smart — and since we live in a world that values physical health over mental and emotional health, for some of us, extra weight is one of the few things that might actually be able to draw our attention to the fact there’s something else going on under the surface.

So if you’re at a point in your life where you feel like you’ve tried everything but nothing works, your weight may be carrying a deeper message.

As a former binge-eater turned therapist who’s helped hundreds of women get to the root of their issues with food and weight, these are some of the ones I see coming up time and time again:


1. You don’t accept yourself as you are

When I first embarked on this journey, I started to notice that there are two types of people when it comes to health and wellness.

First, there are those that are mostly consistent with it. They’ve got a weekly workout schedule they stick to, they’re 80/20 when it comes to healthy eating, and on the odd occasion where they do go all out with food or skip a few gym sessions, they’re pretty quick to get back to their normal routine.

Then there are those for whom the health journey looks a lot more like a rollercoaster ride. They get all hyped up about a new diet or workout routine, go all in for 2 or 3 weeks, 4 if their willpower is strong, until they miss a day — at which point they say “F*ck it!” and proceed immediately to make up for time lost.

That used to be me.

For the longest time, I wanted to be like those first guys. I wanted to be consistent, and be able to “eat everything in moderation”. But I couldn’t, because there’s one thing they had, that I didn’t: they accepted themselves (and their bodies) as they are — flaws and all.

They understood that their bodies may not look or feel the way they wanted to right now, but they didn’t judge themselves for it, they didn’t base their worth on it. They felt inspired to become better, while knowing they were already good enough.

For them, eating healthy and going to the gym was an act of self-care. Whereas for me, it was a punishment for being fat.

20+ years of desperately trying to lose weight but not being able to forced me to learn to love and accept myself as I am — and it’s a lesson I’m incredibly grateful for.

Not only did it help me finally become more consistent with my healthy habits and pursue them from a place of self-care, it also helped me realise that all these years I was trying to lose weight for the wrong reasons — and maybe you are too.

Which brings me to my next point.


2. You’re living life according to the expectations of others

In her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, palliative nurse Bronnie Ware shared that at the end of their life, people most commonly wish they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves, not the life others expected of them.

This certainly rang true for me.

For most of my life I pretty much just had two goals in life: to lose weight and to be successful in my career. The older I got, the more I started to realise that those goals were never mine.

I’d been chasing success to impress my dad and trying to lose weight to please my mum — convinced that once I’d get there, I’d finally feel good about myself.

I didn’t, though. Neither the 6-figure salary nor the size 8 jeans could ever fill the gaping hole inside my heart. I desperately tried to stuff it with food and booze too, but that didn’t help either.

Even though my life was perfect on paper, deep inside something still felt missing. So I did what any normal person would never do, and walked away from it all.

It’s taken 6 years and a hell of a lot of courage to go against the grain and figure out what truly makes me feel fulfilled, but I finally feel like I’ve built a life that I no longer need to escape from.

So, let me ask you: who are you underneath all the “shoulds” and the external expectations you keep piling on yourself? Who are you when there’s no one but you to impress? What would you say or do if you weren’t so worried about what other people would think of you? And would you still need food to make yourself feel better if you truly loved your life?

You may not know the answers to any of these questions today, but start by asking. Because the things you’ll discover along the way will bring you more happiness and success than any jeans size, paycheck or compliment ever could.


3. You seek love in food

Most of us have the memory of being fed as a baby deeply engrained within our subconscious. Our parents and caretakers would hold us tight while feeding us, love us, maybe even sing to us, which created a really strong sense of connection. And it’s that feeling of being whole, loved, and cared for that we’re ultimately all still seeking today.

So, on any given day, whenever we’re not feeling whole, loved or cared for… is it any wonder that we then go and look for it in food?

But while food is a fantastic symbolic substitute for love, it can never fill the void in our hearts (believe me, I’ve tried).

The only thing that can truly stop that gap is to cultivate a sense of unwavering and unconditional love for ourselves — hint: use your food cravings as a prompt to give yourself some much needed TLC!

The journey to self-love may challenge you, but it’s a worthy pursuit. And if there’s anything I’ve learned on mine, it’s that it’s not so much about learning to love ourselves as it is about unlearning all the ways we reject ourselves.