Client Comment: “So you can’t “make” my body lose weight? I did not know that.”
Yes, its true. We can’t make a body lose body fat. We can support a body nutritionally with lifestyle and stress management. Which then enables us to create an environment conducive for body fat loss. But we cannot force a body to lose weight. Which is contrary to typical “diet culture”. And with diet culture, you can abuse (some form of restriction or limitation, purging or over exercise) your body into a different size momentarily. But a body is so so smart, that it is always looking out for you and your survival. And it will do what it needs to do to help you survive. Or help you get back to a more supportive base level. When it is stressed, threatened, famished etc. You name it, the body knows how to alter itself to protect itself.
Often times clients come in to see me specifically to lose body fat. If clients see me at my office, then I am able to get a body composition read on them. This allows me to actually see how much muscle and how much body fat they actually have. Let me preface; my focus is not on the numbers. Not on the numbers at all. In fact, most of the time, I’m not even discussing these with my clients. I am just paying attention to what is happening because it tells me information to help the individual. Especially when I’m working with my athletes. Getting back to what I was starting to say earlier, knowing this data is helpful to show the client, what is even realistic if body fat loss is their goal. Many clients will throw out these huge numbers at me, like, “I need to lose 50# or 65#.”, when in reality, they actually have way more muscle then they knew they had. And, in order for their body to properly function, we discover that realistically, and again, if and only if their body even wants to lose body fat, they may potentially lose a fraction of what they thought.
The whole point in showing this to my client, is the whole idea of how distorted our body image can be. Or how distorted our own idea of what “health” needs to “look” like. Or, how there is so much focus on reducing size because it will all of a sudden make life so much better for some reason. When I’m working with a client, virtually or in-person, we are always focusing on how we are supporting our body. Whether an athlete, someone dealing with an ailment, someone looking to improve quality of intake, someone dealing with hormonal shifts. Supporting the body is what we will doing. We are paying attention to other outcomes. And associating self-care with increase energy, better mental space, improved digestion, improved sleep, regulated hunger and fullness levels and cues. This in turn, can lead to a better appreciation for their body. This also opens the door to self-acceptance and can start the ball rolling with more self-love and care. At times, this often leads to the discovery that my client wasn’t setting good boundaries for themselves, or they were giving their power away to outside sources, leading them to make food choices or restrictive behaviors based on stress, rebellion, comfort, or to numb out feelings. Relying on their environment to validate their worth for them. Or they notice how often they choose to put themselves last. How they were the ones, this whole time, not allowing themselves to experience joy, fun, pleasure or anything else they would like to experience in life. All based on beliefs that they carried around themselves, their world and of course food.
Yes, this seems like a lot. But our desire to change or alter our bodies, usually stems from a desire to feel differently than what we feel right now. And I don’t mean, thinner. I mean what you associate that with. Often people associate being thinner with being happy, feeling free, winning all the time, better everything. Better everything isn’t dictated by a weight. Its dictated by your willingness to love yourself enough to experience better everything, despite the size or shape or anything.
Next month we’ll explore the idea of the bodies “set point”. For now, focus on what you can do to support your body. What does your body need, what does it crave, what would make it feel good? If you are having trouble pin pointing what that might be for you, feel free to reach out. I’m happy to explore all of this with you and help bring you into better balance.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Nicole is recognized state-wide and nationally as a Registered Dietitian and is also a Certified dietitian through the state of Wisconsin. She is also a Board Certified Sports Dietitian and a Certified Personal Trainer and Physical Fitness Instructor.
Nicole’s areas of expertise include: Wellness and lifestyle coaching, weight management, behavior modification, eating disorders, vegetarian lifestyles, gluten-free living, sports nutrition, recipe and menu design and development.