You Can’t Chase Health and Fitness Without Thinking About Your Life

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

I went on a very successful weight loss journey in 2020, losing 19 kg (~42 lbs). This was the culmination of years of frustration at my weight and my inability to feel healthy, energetic, and whole.

In 2021, I have regained ~4 kgs. A small part of that is working out with very heavy weights, and a big part is eating for comfort. I have somewhat spiraled back into the old habits that led to frustration.

But I’m not sweating it at the moment. There is no panic, and I’m okay with putting on a little weight.

The reason for that? I’m focusing on my career right now. As a result of focusing on my career, I accumulate stress, and I deal with stress by through food.

People google “How to lose weight” 550,000 times per month, according to digital marketing company mondovo.com. Not far behind is “how to lose weight fast” — 301,000 times/month.

Weight loss is a perennial desire for people. It’s the #1 AND #2 new year’s resolution (“exercise more” and “lose weight”).

Since my own journey, I’ve been asked by no less than 10 people for help. In cataloguing my own experience and years of frustration, I learned a key lesson that was right in front of me:

“You can’t be healthy in a vacuum.”

You cannot keep your life the same while working on your fitness. It’s hard. It’s stressful. Food is a comfort and a source of happiness. If you take that away and don’t supplement it with something else, you’re actively reducing your happiness.

It’s the same reason quitting cigarettes (or sugar, or coffee) is hard. They are clearly adding SOMETHING to your life. Otherwise, why would you lean on them? They’re alleviating stress in some way or the other.

When you work on your fitness, it takes a while to experience the rewards. You don’t start feeling good until you’ve shown some consistency.

Therefore, you lose out on the happiness you get from food, and you’re waiting for the happiness that comes from health. A net reduction in happiness is the reason working on fitness is hard.

The Good News

In my journey last year, I started experiencing a huge boost in mental clarity and mood, midway through the process. I learned that the joy I get from feeling light and healthy is very different from the joy eating food. They’re two completely different feelings.

The joy of feeling light is something you can get from many sources other than food — exercise, sports, and walks for sure, but also reading, creative arts, and social time.

I’ve already started course-correcting myself, and am slowly getting back into healthy eating, while ensuring that I make time to read, write, and play D&D — my sources of happiness.

When you’re trying to lose weight, you lose out on the happiness that food brings to you. Put an increased focus on other things that make you happy, such as family time or hobbies, so that you can make up the lost happiness.

You’ll have a lot more success that way.

Professional technical writer, 2x Distinguished Toastmaster. I write about mental health and self-awareness. Also see https://medium.com/thorough-and-unkempt