For a long time I truly believed that if I could just get “skinny” I would finally be happy, successful, acceptable, and self-confident. I had it in my head that weight loss was the answer to all of my problems.
And based on the emails and messages I get everyday, it sounds like many of you do too.
The desperation I felt to lose weight and to look a certain way drove me to do some very unhealthy things to my body and mind. Everything I did to lose weight left me feeling miserable and unworthy.
This is why learning to “think myself thin” using mindfulness, purpose, and all the other strategies I discuss in my book Mindful Weight Loss Method was so life changing. (Click here to download the first and last chapters of my book for free.)
Even if there would have been a “skinny pill” I could have taken (and believe me I would have!) there is no way I would have been happy before I changed my mindset. I know this to be true based on my own experience, however, seems the science is says so too.
Does Weight Loss Cause Depression?
A 2010 study of 2406 individuals concluded: “In this study, depressed mood predicted weight gain over three years, while weight loss over three years predicted depressed mood.” (1)
When I first read this I laughed to myself because it is basically saying, “You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” I guess there were a few researchers that felt the same way.
In 2014, a group of researchers decided to take the data found in the previous study and narrow it down to just the overweight or obese individuals who reported not having illnesses or clinical depression in order to determine if there was something missing to the depression and weight loss puzzle. (2)
The second study found that weight losers were more likely to be depressed proving that weight loss isn’t the magic bullet many expect it to be.
The researchers believe that this might be one of the reasons why many people struggle to keep weight off. It’s almost as if people do not see the benefits of being thinner so they slip back into their old habits.
Why Would This Be the Case?
Thinking back to my own weight loss struggle I completely understand the findings of these studies. I suffered incredibly when weight loss was my sole focus. I had fatigue from exercising too much and eating too little, beat myself up mentally, and isolated myself from my friends and family.
My eating and exercise habits were obsessive and unhealthy. And even once I had dropped down 30 lbs, I lived in constant worry about whether or not the scale would go go up or down.
So even though I had lost a pretty significant amount of weight I was still so stressed about my weight!
Also, because we are taught that thinness equals happiness (this makes me think of countless movie scenes and magazine spreads of beautiful thin girls in bikinis frolicking and laughing with their friends on the beach) that when we do lose weight we are left wondering when the happiness and high self-esteem will come flooding in.
I can tell you from experience… it doesn’t.
So Why Try to Lose Weight?
I am not trying to discourage you from attempting to lose weight with this article. What I am trying to get across is that weight loss alone isn’t a prescription for happiness.
From my own experience and based on the science, it seems that when people struggle, beg, and plead for thinness they will often emerge unhappier on the other side, not only that, often the weight will just come right back on.
I truly believe that what you THINK is just as important as what you eat and how much you exercise when it comes to weight loss.
I lost 60 pounds but I have also watched my nephew grow from a tiny baby to full-fledged teenager, met the love of my life, started my own business, wrote a book, and connected with the most amazing people from all over the world. I can tell you with 100% certainty that the happiness those experiences have brought me had nothing to do with my weight and everything to do with my mind set.
The cool part is when you focus on harnessing the power of your mind, success in anything you put your mind to (including weight loss) is inevitable.
And THAT makes me the happiest of all!
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- Koster, A., van Gool, C. H., Kempen, G. I., Penninx, B. W., Lee, J. S., Rubin, S. M., & Kritchevsky, S. B. (2010). Late-life depressed mood and weight change contribute to the risk of each other. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 18(3), 236-244.
- Jackson, S. E., Steptoe, A., Beeken, R. J., Kivimaki, M., & Wardle, J. (2014). Psychological Changes following Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Prospective Cohort Study.
- Fabricatore, A. N., Wadden, T. A., Higginbotham, A. J., Faulconbridge, L. F., Nguyen, A. M., Heymsfield, S. B., & Faith, M. S. (2011). Intentional weight loss and changes in symptoms of depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International journal of obesity, 35(11), 1363-1376.