You may have heard of “happy weight” before - the weight that a person can gain after starting a romantic relationship...but is it a real thing? Is it healthy?
And what does an Intuitive Eating dietitian have to say about happy weight? Let’s dive in!
But first, a disclaimer
Let’s make one bold statement right away: you are so much more than a number on the scale.
There are about a zillion things more interesting and important about who you are than your weight.
Whew. I feel better. How about you?
What is happy weight?
Let’s say that you’re starting to get to know a special someone...your stomach is full of butterflies, you’re checking your phone about 8,382 times an hour for new text messages and doing all sorts of activities outside of your usual routine. You might be eating differently, trying new foods and not in your usual sleep and joyful movement routine.
For people who have been consistently micromanaging their eating – aka dieting – this relaxation of the usual routine might lead to weight gain. You’re too joyfully in the present with this new exciting relationship that your priorities start to shift and you dedicate less time and energy to counting calories, points or pounds. Hence the name: happy weight.
Happy weight is a real phenomenon, but it doesn’t need to be a bad thing. It can be a GOOD thing! Finding your happy weight – or set weight – is an important step to truly living your best life. (Psst: you deserve your best life!)
We tend to think about relationships as an opportunity to get to know another person, but really, a relationship is just as much an opportunity to get to know yourself. What do you like? What activities and conversations challenge you? A relationship with another person might be an opportunity to find your own happy weight – the weight where you feel best both mentally & physically and can enjoy all that life has to offer (like random ice cream dates!).
And if you break up with dieting – which I wholeheartedly encourage you to do – you make time for things that truly make you happy and feel good. I know in my heart of hearts that this is far easier said than done, which is why I created The SociEATy to support you on your successful Intuitive Eating journey. (More on The SociEATy at the end of this post.)
Need a few reasons to give up dieting? Here are 12 Reasons NOT to Diet but believe me, I have many more to share!
Does love make you gain weight?
Does love make you gain weight? Not really. There are no love hormones that influence the number on the scale, your body fat percentage or anything else you might be tracking or measuring.
But what love can do is change your usual routines, habits, and priorities which can later translate into changes in the scale. Your behaviors are influenced by the people you spend the most time with.
If your new partner loves to hike or salsa dance, chances are, you might be having some new or different joyful movement in your routine. And if your partner loves winding down with a glass of wine and some cheese and crackers, you might enjoy the routine as well...even if this is not what you usually allow yourself to eat.
How do you find your happy weight?
How do you find your happy weight? Like one that feels good both mentally and physically? With Intuitive Eating. Let me explain:
Do you love it when your boss asks for updates every 37 seconds, changes the course of a project constantly and limits your ability to do the work that you’re best at? Of course not!
Your body feels the same way if you’re micromanaging how much you’re eating, thwarting your hunger signals and ignoring her need for joyful movement, a good night’s sleep and stress management.
Your body is smart and fiercely protective of your well being. When you give her space to do her job – i.e., help you to feel good, focus easily and move joyfully – she really gets to shine.
Far too many of us are dieting - i.e., micromanaging our bites, meals, points and calories. Diets don’t work long term and can even damage your metabolism - not good!
If you’re just getting started with Intuitive Eating: welcome! I’d suggest this post to learn a bit more about what Food Freedom is and how to implement it, step-by-step: How to Find Freedom From Food.
If you're looking for more guidance on how to overcome food rules and to snag the same hunger scale that I use myself and give to my clients, be sure to snag my free e-book: The Ultimate 5-Step Guide To Food Freedom!
Signs that you’ve found your happy weight
How do you know if you’ve found your happy weight?
While I don’t advocate for using a scale, you can look for any of these clues to show that you’re on your way to becoming an Intuitive Eater and being comfortable at your happy weight:
- You have consistent energy throughout the day
- You’re not obsessing over food, points, or calories
- You don’t have food rules
- You do movement for the joy of it, not to lose weight
- You listen to your hunger and fullness cues
- Your weight maintains itself effortlessly within a range
Here’s the other thing to talk about - our bodies change over time. And friend, that is 1,000% normal. Your happy weight now might be different in five or ten years and different again in twenty. Let’s normalize bodies changing over time!
Is a relationship mandatory for finding your happy weight?
You DO find your set point weight when you find fulfillment in other areas of life – relationship or not! It’s when you let go of the things that don’t truly matter in life (like micromanaging our bodies) and lean into the things that DO: making memories, enjoying experiences, and prioritizing health & feeling good in your body VS looks.
P.S. We've been using happy weight in this blog post, but another way to describe your best weight is your set point. The weight or weight range that your body feels best at and is effortless to maintain. For a bit more info about set point, check out this blog post: Set Point Weight Theory: What It Is & How To Find It.
What if your Happy Weight doesn’t feel good?
The first thing to ask yourself is whether you’re not feeling good physically or you feel like you’re not BEING good (meaning you’re not fitting society’s unrealistic beauty standards! The two are different.
With the abundance of ways that diet culture is woven into the very fabric of our society, it is no wonder that Intuitive Eaters can feel like a fish out of water when doing something different, even if it is far healthier long term.
The truth is, that your body knows the best weight for you to be, even if it doesn’t match the very specific and arbitrary society’s beauty standards. This is such a common concern of my clients that I wrote a post about body image: How To Overcome Negative Body Image.
However, if you’re not feeling good physically such as feeling fatigued and zapped of energy or not sleeping well, then this is your cue to the feedback your body is giving you- that’s part of eating intuitively!
If you’re not feeling well physically then I recommend that you focus on health promoting behaviors over looks. For example, how can I improve flexibility, reduce joint pain, find activity that feels joyful, and so on. Appreciating and respecting your body’s looks will come with time and practice. Weight loss may or may not happen.
You know what is sexy? Confidence. Rest. Contentment and relaxation. Sexy is having relationships that are fulfilling and joyful. Beauty is enjoying the foods you eat and wearing clothes that feel good and fit well - regardless of the size on the label. Happiness is being able to enjoy time with friends without worrying about the snacks served or how you’ll look in photos.
You can be a person in a thin body and be wildly insecure.
You can also be a confident and happy person in a larger body.
No matter what, building a positive and constructive self-image can take time and practice, but you’re worth it. You’ll feel best when you’re at your own happy weight.
It can be a scary process to trust – I get it – but your weight will fall where it wants & you'll FEEL better.
Key takeaways: Happy Weight
With endless dieting messages filling up your social media feed, it can feel a bit lonely getting started with Intuitive Eating. This is why I created The SociEATy to provide others with the supportive community and guidance that I didn’t have. You’re invited!
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