If you’ve been trying to lose those final few kilos but aren’t making any progress, your body could be trying to tell you something. Dietitian Lyndi Cohen is here to give you the best advice you might ever hear.
So you’re doing all the things you’re supposed to… Cooking, fresh healthy food and exercising regularly. And yet, you still don’t look the way you wished you did. Do you know why you’re finding it so hard to lose the last few kilograms? It may be because you’re not supposed to.
You may already be at the weight where your hormones are balanced, your body is strong and your mood is stable. Those extra 2-5kgs (the weight your body clings to) could be the weight where your body functions at its best.
You’re at your healthiest weight when you fall asleep easily, you have boundless energy and your mind is free to think about things other than macros, calories, or reps at the gym.
I’ll let you in on a secret it took me a whole decade to finally realise: Most people don’t naturally have a perfect bikini body or abs when they are at their healthiest weight.
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Most people still have cellulite and stomach rolls when they are truly healthy. Low body fat percentages are dangerous. But because our society is obsessed with being skinny at all costs, you probably missed the research that shows being underweight is more deadly than being overweight.
Sadly, many people with ‘perfect looking bodies’ and models on the front covers of health and fitness magazines have done incredibly unhealthy things to look that way.
Your body has you back…
If it feels like your body is fighting against you when you try to lose those last few kilograms, it’s because your body probably IS fighting against you.
When your weight drops below where it’s meant to be (your natural ‘set-point’ weight), your body will fight back. When you restrict your food or over-exercise or try desperately to get below your ‘set point weight’, your metabolism will slow.
And it wants the best for you. It wants you to have enough body fat to easily maintain your body temperature, menstruate (if you’re a woman of child-bearing age) and it wants you to have some protection (fat stores) in case you ever get sick and can’t eat enough energy. Perhaps you’ve already seen how your ‘dedication’ can easily turn into fixation and obsession – where your thoughts become controlled by ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food choices. This used to be me. When I was a dieter, I used to punish myself to try and look better in a bikini. But it made everything harder… But not anymore. I realised that when your life revolves around food and what you look like, your life and potential is limited. When you starve your body, you can’t think straight. Your thoughts are taken up by what you’re ‘allowed’ to eat.
You can’t live a full life on an empty stomach
When you push your body to lose those last few stubborn kilos, you’re giving up more than just calories. You miss out on life. You pay with your freedom, your spontaneity… the simple pleasures in life. You give up:
- Falling asleep easily, feeling satiated, happy, and full.
- Licking the bowl after you’ve made your best friend a birthday cake.
- Eating your favourite dessert.
- Going to a restaurant and ordering what you want – never having to Google the menu beforehand.
- Catching up with your best friend for dinner (because you aren’t willing to miss a workout).
Those last 2-5kg may just be your favourite holidays and unforgettable memories. It’s not worth giving up 95 per cent of your life to weigh 5 per cent less.
These days, I won’t give up the simple pleasures in life just to look good in a bikini. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I won’t ever have the ‘best’ body at the beach. But I go to sleep happy with myself (without any guilt about what I ate that day) and my thoughts aren’t dictated by what I’m ‘allowed’ to eat or my hips bones.
Accepting your body does not mean you’re giving up on yourself. Accepting your body is realising you don’t need to look perfect from every angle to be worthy. You’re going to have to live with yourself for the rest of your life. You can either hate on your body and struggle with your weight or you can choose to accept your imperfections. It may sound counter-intuitive but it’s time to stop trying to lose weight. And instead, focus all that sweet energy of yours into being healthier – not because you hate yourself, but because it makes you feel good.
Lyndi Cohen is a dietitian and best-selling author of The Nude Nutritionist book, she also has an app, Back to Basics. You can follow Lyndi on Instagram @nude_nutritonist.