273: Your Weight is NOT the Problem
Our culture LOVES to focus on “weight loss” as the linchpin to improved health, but that is problematic for so many reasons…
There are a TON of unhealthy ways to lose weight.
It is possible to be thin and metabolically obese.
Your lifestyle habits influence your health more than your weight actually does.
In this episode of the Grace & Grit Podcast, I challenge you to drop the “my weight is the problem” storyline and instead, shift your focus to the real problems.
Welcome to the Grace & Grit Podcast made for women who want their healthiest years to be ahead of them, not behind them. Join your host Courtney Townley right now. As she breaks down the fairy tale health story, you have been chasing all of your life, indispensable action steps and lasting change.
Hello, my friends, and welcome to the Grace & Grit Podcast. I’m so happy that you’re here with me. Thank you for being here.
Now, if you’ve been around the show for a while you’ve been a listener for a while, you may have noticed that while this is a health oriented show, I don’t spend a lot of time talking about or stressing weight loss. In fact, I never talked about weight loss. I have done a few episodes on fat loss. Because talking about fat loss, with the right person with the right mindset, at the right time in their process, and for the right reasons is a conversation that I can get behind weight loss, not so much.
I talked extensively about my beef with the weight loss conversation in Episode 217. So if you want to listen to that episode, you can certainly do that. But in summary, what I said in that Podcast is that our culture loves to focus on weight loss as the linchpin to improved health. Which is problematic for a lot of reasons. A few of those reasons. First of all, there are 8 million unhealthy ways to lose weight. Someone losing weight tells you nothing about the measures that that person used to create that outcome. And I think everyone can agree that not all measures are created equal.
The other thing that I think is important to remember that we seem to completely dismiss is the reality that it is possible to be thin and metabolically obese. So just because you don’t carry excess fat on your body, does not mean that you are in a state of great health. And the other thing that I think makes the weight loss conversation so problematic is that your lifestyle habits influence your health more than your weight actually does.
So in this episode of The Grace & Grit Podcast, I want to challenge you to drop the my weight is the problem storyline and instead, shift your focus to what could be the actual problems. Now the very reason I started this Podcast years ago, was to help women stop focusing on their weight being the problem. And instead, start to get radically honest about the behaviors that may be contributing to the expression of certain health symptoms. behavior challenges like never making time for yourself, not managing your stress. Not setting enough boundaries in your life. Not knowing how to process emotion in healthy ways. Being a jerk to yourself.
Everywhere we look, we see the message that excess weight is a problem. But saying that weight is the problem, in my opinion is wildly inaccurate. Weight is not the problem. increased fat storage certainly can be a symptom of a problem for some people. So can autoimmune challenges depression, other mood disorders, gut challenges, sleep disturbances. The list of symptoms that we could experience as a byproduct of our lifestyle choices goes on and on. But it’s like we don’t know how to have a conversation about improving health without hyper focusing on weight as the problem. And I want to offer that maybe, just maybe thinking of your weight as the problem is the problem.
Think about it. By focusing on weight being the problem, women feel terrible about themselves. So some of the thoughts that I often hear from clients are things like something is wrong with me, my metabolism is broken, this shouldn’t be happening. And when we think that way, guess what we do, we ignite the stress response in the body, which ultimately, jacks up our chemistry. And we don’t do our best thinking, we don’t make our best choices when our chemistry is jacked. And stress is a very, it’s very costly to the brain. So it takes a lot of energy for the brain to be stressed, which means that energy is not available for other things, like making good decisions. And then because we’re thinking in a way that makes us feel crummy, we behave in crummy ways, which just proves to us that our weight is indeed a problem.
Now, please don’t hear me saying that I think the weight is the problem. But when you think that your weight is the problem, you will seek out evidence that that is true. And ultimately, you will think, feel and behave in ways that produces evidence for you that your weight is indeed a problem, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. And on and on, the spin cycle goes for months for years, for decades, for a lifetime. And by focusing on weight loss, being the solution is also problematic.
In the last episode of this Podcast, I shared a story about redoing my kitchen wall. And my husband is a contractor. And I’m bringing that up, because so often my husband will consult with a client who is so excited about like a kitchen renovation or a bathroom renovation. And all they want to do is focus on the aesthetics, you know, the wallpaper, the tile, the colors, the appliances, because that’s all very exciting, right to see your vision come to life. But in so many cases, replacing the cabinet’s, when really the foundation is rotting is problematic. And that’s kind of how I think about our hyper focus on weight loss.
When we hyper focus on weight loss as the solution to our health challenges, we do some pretty outrageous things to create that outcome. We don’t really worry about sustainability because we’re so desperate to solve the problem. We don’t worry about the toll, this specific strategy might be taking on other parts of our well being like our mental health. We get hyper focused on the result of weight loss, rather than finding ways to fall in love with the process of taking excellent care of ourselves. So there’s a big difference between chasing results and building practices. And when we focus on weight loss exclusively, so many women outsource their decision making. So they follow a cookie cutter protocol, a list of rules and regulations, which ultimately is problematic because they will eventually be in a space where they have to make decisions for themselves. And if they are not equipped with that skill set specifically in the healthcare arena, then what?
So hear me when I tell you that we’re whatever you’re rumbling with along your health journey right now. Your weight is not the problem. It might be a symptom. It is not the problem. Okay, Courtney. So what is? Well likely it’s one of these four things.
The first thing is kind of the overarching umbrella of all the other things that may be problematic. And I mentioned it earlier, your chemistry is jacked. Remember, your body responds to the messaging that you send it. What does that mean? Well, everything that we consume is informing our body, how to respond, how to create energy.
So the things we consume are the foods we eat, the beverages we drink, the thoughts we think, the sleep we get, or don’t get, the environments we hang out in, the relationships we spend time in, and so much more. All of these things influence our chemistry. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity for chemistry to get confused, which I always refer to as chemistry being jacked, chemistry being messed up.
I just finished teaching a course on metabolism inside of my Rumble & Rise community. And one of the main takeaways was that although everyone’s chemistry abides by certain biological principles, like the law of thermodynamics, energy cannot be created or destroyed. The message in our bodies, the communication within our bodies is wildly different. Because we all live wildly different lives. So I’m always encouraging my students to consider their total stress load. Right?
Where are the spaces and places that you are bringing stress in to your life? And remember, stress can be really positive and wonderful. And stress can also be very depleting and destructive. So I asked them to actually look for both. And for one person, they might be eating a ton of sugar, they might be in the midst of moving their life across country. Maybe they’re still grieving the death of a loved one. Maybe they live in an environment that harbors a lot of toxins. Where somebody else doesn’t need a lot of sugar. But maybe they don’t eat much food at all. They constantly extremely restrict calories. And they’re in the throes of menopause. And they don’t really feel like they have much purpose to their life. Both of these scenarios are incredibly stressful, but very different.
Also, our body composition can massively influence our chemistry. So how much muscle mass Do you carry in comparison to fat mass? Right How we think I mentioned this earlier, but I’m gonna say it again because I say this like a broken record. real or imagined stress, both ignites the stress response in the human body. And the stress response is basically the brain getting a message that there is a threat and your biology going to work, getting you ready to fight or flee that stressor.
So our body gets put on high alert. Thanks to cortisol, right, the stress hormone. Cortisol is a beautiful thing. We just don’t want it activated all of the time in high quantities. And we can ignite the stress response by just imagining stress, replaying past hurts, telling ourselves stories about our life. And of course, chemistry is influenced by the fact that we all make different lifestyle choices, how much we sleep, how much we eat, what we eat. How much we drink if we drink, how we manage our mental stressors, if we manage them at all, how we think about ourselves how we think about the world around us, all of these things influence our biochemistry. So it is worth unpacking where your biggest stressors are coming from, because your total stress load can absolutely influence how your body stores fat.
The second thing that may actually be a problem is the strategies that you are reaching for, to try to improve your health. Which ladies, let’s face it, like I mentioned earlier, an awful lot of people are so desperate to lose weight, to make change fast, they do some pretty crazy things. So when I say the, you know, we select strategies that induce more stress, that could really mean one of two things. Either you don’t have any kind of strategy for organizing and structuring your life. That is very stressful.
Or you have such massive expectations for what you can accomplish in a day. You completely overwhelm your brain. And there’s no possible way you can execute everything that you put in your strategy. And you certainly can’t sustain it for any length of time. Both of these things are stressful. And I get it right. A lot of people convince themselves I’m not a planner. I’m not good with time management. I’m really good at organizing my work life, but I don’t organize my personal life. Those are all just optional thoughts. And I challenge you to consider how are they helping you? How is it helping you to think that you’re terrible at time management? How is it helping you to think that you’re not a planner? If you’re anything like my students, I’m willing to guess the answer is it’s not helpful.
Organizing Your time is literally a way of living your life deliberately. Living your life with intention, rather than living life by default. And living life by default, like just letting life blow you around, it sounds, maybe sometimes it sounds really glamorous. It sounds like there’s a certain freedom in that. But I will tell you from all the people I’ve coached over the years, most people don’t feel that way. They’re coming to work with me because they feel all over the place. They feel like things are out of control, like they don’t have choice. They aren’t kind of spearheading the decisions in their life. And that’s very disempowering. Or I have people who understand that, you know, looking at their stressors in their life, maybe it would help them to eat a little bit better to improve the quality of their nutrition. But then they make a plan on how they’re going to do that, that is so wildly ambitious, they fail. And then they use that failure for evidence that they’re never going to succeed.
So your strategy can be the reason, one of the many things that’s causing stress in your life. And again, when your stress load is too full, you’re igniting the stress response, you’re releasing cortisol, you’re releasing blood sugar into the bloodstream. Insulin can get very dysfunctional in a chronic state of that response. And you become awesome at storing fat.
Another thing that may actually be a problem, because again, your weight is not the problem. It might be a symptom of a problem. Parents, you’re not parenting your brain. So you again are thinking in ways that generate more stress. My weights always been a problem. No one can love me like this. I hate my body. I suck at organizing my life. When you think any of these thoughts, and some of you are thinking, all of those thoughts and more. How does it make you feel? Like just check in with your body for a second and just even use one of those thoughts, how does it make you feel? I’m willing to bet it makes you feel awful. And when you feel awful, how do you show up in your life? How do you show up to take care of yourself? The answer is typically will, Courtney I don’t? Of course you don’t, I don’t.
When I feel terrible about myself in my life, all I want to do is dive headfirst into it little pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I don’t want to go exercise, I don’t want to apply effort to cook a healthy meal. And of course, consistently feeling terrible. And consistently not showing up for myself because I feel terrible. creates more evidence that my weight is the problem. Right, which again, the weight isn’t the problem. It’s your thinking, that’s a problem. It’s the way you’re choosing to interpret your life, your physiology, your challenges, that’s the problem.
The fourth thing I want to mention today, that could be an actual problem, because again, your weight is not the problem, is that you have a habit of retreating from emotion. And this looks like a lot of different things. Instead of feeling stressed about a work project, or allowing ourselves to feel lonely, or frustrated or sad. What do we do? We watch our favorite Netflix show, we pick up our phone and start scrolling. Maybe we shop online, we eat a lot of our emotions, we drink a lot of our emotions, which further jacks up your chemistry. And remember jacked up chemistry really means we confuse our hormones. We create a lot of hormonal dysfunction.
By not feeling our emotions that come along. There’s a byproduct to eating every time we feel sad. There’s a byproduct to drinking wine every time you feel stressed at the end of the day. And of course, that byproduct is that you don’t feel so great physically, emotionally, mentally. And then when you don’t feel so great. Like I said earlier, you don’t make the best decisions for your health. And on and on the cycle goes. So if you are someone listening to this Podcast today, who has been telling yourself that your weight is the problem?
Again, I’m inviting you to sort of just reframe this and get very honest with yourself about the real challenges you may be facing. Are you treating yourself in a way that helps you to stabilize your chemistry? Or are you making lifestyle choices that are inducing a lot more stress? Are you choosing strategies that are creating more stress? So improving health, reducing fat, those are not bad goals by any stretch. But the strategies you use to accomplish those things can absolutely create more of a problem. Are you parenting your brain? Are you taking time each day to examine your thinking? And get curious if the way that you’re thinking is useful to how you want to be showing up in the world? And do you have healthy ways of processing emotion? Do you allow all of your emotions to the table? Or do you escape emotion by doing things that are costing you your health that are jacking up your chemistry. These are all great things to consider.
So, inside of my Rumble & Rise community, these are the four buckets that we focus on. So I’m constantly teaching masterclasses inside of the Rumble & Rise space that are based on these four buckets stabilizing chemistry picking smart strategy, parenting your brain and learning how to develop emotional agility.
So if you are someone listening to this today, who is having a few aha moments and would like help developing some of these skill sets you are not going to find anything in the wellness industry that is this robust for this price Rumble & Rise membership is 59 bucks a month. You get access to an incredible amount of education support, inspiration community. It is awesome. So you can always check out the details of that program by heading over to https://graceandgrit.com/readytorumble. I hope I will see you on the inside. And I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. I’ll see you again soon. Take care
Thank you for listening to the Grace & Grit Podcast. It is time to mend the fabric of the female health story. And it starts with you taking radical responsibility for your own self care. You are worth the effort and with a little Grace & Grit anything is possible.
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