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You do not need to lose weight

If this is your goal, you will fail. (But hear me out.)

Maybe not at first. At first, you will probably very much succeed. If you set out to lose weight and you adopt some sort of "healthy" eating and exercise plan, you will probably watch the pounds starting to fall off pretty quickly. You will probably start feeling happier and healthier and you will probably think that it's "working." But I assure you, it's not.

They say "the hardest thing isn't losing weight; the hardest thing is keeping it off." But that is not true. The hardest part is going deeper than your outward appearance to address the issues that likely led you down this path in the first place.

Let me be clear: when I say "you do not need to lose weight," I do not mean that there aren't some behaviors that may need to be changed. I do not mean that there are not bad habits that may need to be addressed. I do not mean that there is no benefit to eating nutritious foods and engaging in physical activity regularly. Quite the contrary. But exercise isn't a punishment and nutrition isn't a silver bullet and if you are using these things for the purpose of manipulating your body size then you have already failed before you even begin.

Let's put this one to rest once and for all: you do not need to lose body weight, you need to lose body hate.

Your body is an amazing vehicle. It does a lot of hard work for you. Maybe it has given birth. Maybe it has run a marathon. Maybe it has survived a car accident or chemo or a heart attack. Maybe it has even picked you up off the couch so you could walk over to the mirror and shame it again and again for not looking the way you want it to. And yet it continues to be subjected to the abuse and trauma of weight loss attempt after weight loss attempt, all in the name of "getting healthier"? No.

Your weight is not a problem; the way you (and practitioners, critical mothers, the diet and supplement industry, "friends," and society) treat your body as a result of it is a problem. Your body does not need to be fixed before it can be loved. In fact, it is nearly impossible to adopt sustainable healthy habits when those actions come from a place of punishment – which, if you're being honest, is what weight loss attempts stem from most of the time.

So next time you're out there looking for the latest meal plan and exercise routine or picking up a new book to learn about what another doctor has to say about nutrition or feeling tempted to try that "wellness challenge" or 30 day fix for the umpteenth time, just…don't.

Instead, understand that any weight lost should only be a side effect of body acceptance and body appreciation, not the cause of it. Understand that this is a journey that cannot possibly be found in the lines of another journal article or research study or after a single visit with a registered dietitian. Understand that your body is worthy of all the love you have to throw at it right now regardless of the size it is at this moment.

Just understand there is another way. It will be really, really hard – far harder than losing weight will ever be. But unlike losing weight, losing hate is actually worth it.

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