Many of us have had a difficult relationship with our “last 10 pounds” — they often seem like an elusive mirage. The mind wants to shed just a bit more weight before we can rest in our bodies…
In this blog post, excerpted from a Heal Overeating: Untangled support call, Karly shares her experience with her “last 10 pounds,” and her insight into the impulse’s deeper meaning.
“I would say that in my life, whenever I’m at a normal healthy weight and I have this desire to be 10 pounds thinner, that’s usually a sign for me that there’s something else going on. Again, this is my experience, so yours might be different, but the part of me that is typically wanting to be 10 pounds thinner is usually my perfectionist, hard-driving self.
It’s the part of me that wants to be perfect in every area of my life, because the belief system of that part of me is that unless I’m perfect, I’m not loveable. That part of me, when it speaks, can feel anxious about, ‘I’ve got to get all my you-know-what together and get it together perfectly so that I can feel loveable and okay.’
When that part of me is driving the show, I get very tight and tense, and very hard on myself; I don’t look at myself with soft eyes. When I make a mistake, it can feel like the end of the world. Fortunately, that might be a part that you have inside you too; we have other parts, and those are the parts that I would encourage you to honor and listen to when you notice that you’re fixating on getting to that place of perfection.
Again, that question that’s framing this call is: What am I needing? Underneath that desire to lose 10 pounds, what are you really wanting? Self-acceptance? To know that you’re enough? Unconditional love? Freedom?
I know for a lot of us, we hold these beliefs in our head that until our body looks a certain way, we can’t enjoy pleasure; we can’t go swimming, we can’t go dancing, we can’t buy the clothes we want, we can’t enjoy sex with our beloved, whatever it is with the body. It’s like we put on ‘if/then’; ‘When I lose weight, I will . . .’
In my experience, tapping into that deeper need in the body is important here, as well as asking a great question when you notice that you’re feeling a little bit controlling toward your weight: Think of the weight as a symbol. What I mean by that is that it’s really easy when our lives feel out of control to make the body the scapegoat and say, ‘If I only lost 10 pounds, things would be great.’ I definitely see that show up for me.
In fact, whenever I notice that desire of ‘I need to lose 10 pounds,’ it’s almost always a red flag when the next question I ask myself is, ‘Where do you feel out of control in your life, Karly? Is it because your daughter’s going through a hard time and you’re feeling like you should be able to control that? Is it because you feel concerned about money? Is it because you’re feeling nervous about something big that you want to accomplish?’
Whatever it is, it’s usually not about my body, it’s usually about this feeling of wanting to clamp down on some uncomfortable feelings or uncomfortable situations that I’m dealing with.
The other thing that I would say about this is that it’s very normal and very common. When you’re using an inside-out approach to healing, like what ‘Heal Overeating: Untangled’ is, like what, for example, Geneen Roth’s work is, what other people’s work like Intuitive Eating, etc. With that inside-out approach, it can look very, very different than a diet, because a diet is all about changing the behavior and then seeing the results — seeing the pounds come off in X-many weeks — so many pounds, so many weeks.
Whereas, when you start doing the inside stuff, it’s a little bit messier. The results that tend to show up, in my experience, last because you’re doing all this juicy inner work that has a much greater long-term affect and it also takes a little bit longer. The results aren’t as immediately apparent, and it tends to be more of a squiggly line where it’s a little more up and down.
Again, if that’s your experience, I’m trying to normalize that for you. I know that that can bring up some disappointment because we all like quick results, and I get it. I really get it. I wish I could offer you an easier way, but I feel like then I’d be being dishonest with you, because I haven’t found it.
It’s also normal when we’re overeating a food, that we might carry a little extra pounds. Can we be compassionate towards those extra pounds? Can we find this kindness and softness towards our bodies and really forgive ourselves and our bodies for being imperfect?
Being healed is not, in my experience, about eating perfectly. There’s going to be an ebb and flow, you’re going to spiral, you’re going to peel the onion, and there’s going to be days that are wonderful and days that aren’t so great. Can you really look at everything as a chance to learn and to open your heart, and trust that that growth and healing is occurring? Be compassionate towards your human messiness.
I used to think that if I just read enough books, did enough inner work, got enough counseling, enough therapy, I really could be this completely-together person who finally had all her stuff figured out. I realized how much that goal really cramped down my life because I was always having to get somewhere to finally be at peace and at rest.
That softness, what I was talking about earlier, is a softness of being ok with some of the chaos; it’s here. How good do we have to be to feel enough and to feel loveable? Can we be okay with our human process'”
What is your relationship to your “last 10 pounds?” Have you de-coded your personal message behind the urge for greater “body-perfection?” We would love to hear about your experience in the comments!
Wanting more hands on help:
- This month were exploring the theme of healing through love on Firstourselves.org. If you want to learn how you can heal the roots of overeating through love, I invite you to explore the Heal Overeating: Untangled program. This audio and workbook program is my most popular program, and can help you heal your relationship with food and your sweet self. If it feels right to you, I encourage you to experience the healing in this program for yourself. Sign up for a free mini course, an introduction to Untangled, here.
- If you liked this article, you may also like this post on ending the obsession with weight.
- You may also enjoy a post in which Karly shares her story of finding love for her body.