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April 10, 2015

5 Reasons Losing Weight Isn’t a Life Purpose.

Photo via Roy Cheung on Pixoto

One of the most difficult parts of being human can be feeling like our life is purposeless or meaningless.

This feeling can often leave us hopeless and depressed and for some reason it seems this journey towards finding meaning and purpose in our lives is not a straight line—it is a journey riddled with challenges and curves, sometimes even land mines but, in my opinion, this journey is one worth taking nevertheless.

Unfortunately, there are many things that can sidetrack us from staying staying on the path and one of them is our ambition to lose weight.

Now, there are many reasons losing weight can be a good idea—if we’re having knee or back issues or if our weight is preventing us from being able to be active, then yes, losing weight might be a necessary step on our path of finding meaning and purpose.

But let’s be honest, that is not why most people are trying to lose weight. Somehow being thin has been equated with being happy, worthy and successful and gaining weight has been associated with failure.

I would like to argue here that the goal of losing weight is not a life purpose. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. It doesn’t help other people.

When people feel aligned with their life purpose they are usually doing something that benefits other people, animals or the planet itself. Feeling purposeful brings a sense of connection  to others and a sense of satisfaction that they’re making the world a better place.

Losing weight, on the other hand, is a very personal journey where we need to be absorbed with ourselves. Too much focus on losing weight can pull people away from the greater picture of global suffering and make them too focused on the details of the their diet and numbers on the scale.

2. Our physical size doesn’t matter for the job we want to do.

This is a really important question we can all ask ourselves, “Do my weight, skin color, shape of my face, thickness of my chin and size of my ass matter when it comes to providing the service I want to provide to the world? Will what I offer be less if I weighed 20 lbs more? Will my “work” suffer if I have bags under my eyes?” Unless you are a supermodel the answer is probably no.

3. Takes our energy from us.

The energy we put towards our life purpose does suffer when all of our energy is going into scrutinising the size of our ass or the folds on our belly. This is literally a time suck and can waste away many hours from the day and week that we could be using to meditate, walk in nature or daydream about the things that makes us come alive.

4. Doesn’t improve our self-love.

My experience of losing weight, gaining weight and losing weight and gaining weight yet again is that I don’t have more self-love when I’ve lost weight. I am excited, yes—it is a certain kind of a high to watch the pounds drop off and feel the pants loosen around the waist. But if I hate myself again when I get those 10 lbs back than that isn’t real self-love.

Real self-love, as I am now learning, is unshakeable in the midst of external circumstances.

Real self-love is a sense of being whole and no criticism from ourselves or others can carve out a piece of that whole self-love pie when it is real. A way better use of time, instead of changing our looks, is changing ourselves on the inside by growing self-love until it is much bigger then our opinions of our physical size.

 5. There is no actual correlation between happiness and weight.

Being thinner does not ensure more happiness. Nothing ensures more happiness except being committed to more happiness. Cutting calories, climbing on a scale each day, measuring self-worth by numbers and shapes, this does not sound like happy to me.

Spending time doing things that make us happy in a way that we feel connected to others, ourselves and the planet, not numbing out and avoiding happiness, does bring us closer to finding our meaning and purpose—this type of happy isn’t found in a nutrition plan.

And of course, like everything else, we need to take these concepts inside ourselves, let them digest through our own knowledge and belief systems and see if they are right for us.

But here is what I know—millions of people are trying to lose weight and it doesn’t seem to be working. We seem to be barking up the wrong tree. So, instead of asking “How can I look better?” I think we need to be asking, “How can I feel aligned with my life purpose? How can I feel like I am contributing to the planet in a way that makes me feel whole, happy and connected?” And I believe the answer to these questions will be found in a loving helpfulness to ourselves and others, not in a number on a scale.

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Author: Ruth Lera

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Roy Cheung on Pixoto

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