Intuitive Eating & Body Positivity with Terri Pugh

20. Why you THINK you want to be thin, and why you REALLY want to be thin

August 29, 2021 Terri Pugh Episode 20
Intuitive Eating & Body Positivity with Terri Pugh
20. Why you THINK you want to be thin, and why you REALLY want to be thin
Show Notes Transcript

We want to lose weight, and we want to be thinner, but why? This week I'm delving into why you think you want to lose weight and why you actually really want to lose weight. Spoiler alert - we rarely want to lose weight for ourselves.

Listener question this week is "How do I handle comments about my eating from people who aren't Intuitive Eating informed?".

Join our weekly group coaching sessions:

Join the conversation in the Facebook group:

Follow on Instagram: or @IAmTerriPugh 

Get updates straight into your inbox each week:

Drop me an email: [email protected] 




Please note, this podcast is intended to be general information for entertainment purposes only. Any figures quoted are correct at the time of recording. As always, please seek the support of a registered professional before making changes to your diet or lifestyle⁠, or if you feel that you are affected by any of the topics discussed.


Related Topics:

Intuitive Eating, HAES, Health At Every Size, Body Positivity, Body Confidence, Body Positive, Anti Diet, Non Diet, Diet Culture, Food Freedom, Fat Acceptance, Fat Liberation, Self Care, Weight Loss, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, Disordered Eating, Nutritional Therapy, Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Cambridge Diet, Cambridge Plan, 121 Diet, Lighter Life, Noom, Coaching, Healing, Health, Wellness, Calorie Counting, Macros

Welcome to the Intuitive Eating and Body Positivity Podcast. I'm Terri and I'll be talking about all things intuitive eating, body positivity and health at every size and shaking off weight stigma, diet culture and food rules, so that we can all have a better relationship with food and our bodies.


Hello. How are you? How has your week been? I am coming at you on a bank holiday weekend. I think actually this episode is going to go out on time, which is good because we've got plans this weekend and I was worried that I would have to send it out a day or so late.


I was thinking it was going to go on Monday and I don't want to do that to you. I want it to be regular every week, so I'm happy to be recording today. We're waiting for some visitors to turn up. They've been stuck in bank holiday traffic and diverted all over the place, so I've got an hour or so to chat to you instead.


I hope you've had a good week. I hope you've done some nice stuff. We went out for dinner last night. We haven't done that for ages. We went out for a friend's birthday and it was a surprise. She didn't know that my husband and I were going to be there. So when she rocked up, she was pleasantly surprised to see us, which is good. Yeah. It was lovely to see her. So nice to see people again, isn't it? Now things are opening up.


We had some awesome food. So for those of you that know Hereford you will know The Courtyard. They've got a restaurant called the Chase Lounge, and we went there. Not been there before. It was so, so good, so good.


They had a choice of main plates. Really nice options. My husband had short rib and a potato fondant I think it was, and some seasonal veg that looked amazing. He said it was really, really good. And I had a selection of three small plates, because they've got the main plates option and a small plates option, and then you can mix and match so it's a bit tapas-y.


I had some Ham and pea arancini, some teriyaki belly pork, and some patatas bravas. Oh it was so good. It was way more food than I thought it was going to be because, you know, you always have a little look to see what the people at the next table are eating and they had these little dishes with this food in, and thought I will go for three because it was an option of one, two or three.


I will go for three because they don't look like it's much food, but I was stuffed. These were heaped small dishes. So good. There was other things on table, like my friend had a chicken dish. There was I think it was a tempura cauliflower, which came with a sesame dip. No, not a sesame seed dip. I think it was coated and had sesame seeds on it and then there was a dip with it. I can't remember what everybody else had, but it was amazing.


So if you are local, you should try it. And if you are not local, you should still try it. And if you are overseas, you should still come here and try it. It's so good. I was really, really impressed.


And we were those people. We were those customers. We were last out. Sorry, Courtyard staff, but we were just having such a nice time.


And they've got a really nice selection of Chase gins and things like that. So, yeah, we just had a really, really nice evening out. So that was amazing. I hope you're starting to do nice things now that restrictions are lifting. I hope you feel confident enough to be able to go out and see people you haven't seen for a long time.


We have my sister in law visiting this weekend and we haven't seen her for the best part of two years, so we're so excited to see her. We're going to have a barbecue this afternoon. This bank holiday is shaping up to be a good one.


Right on with the topic of the week. This week, I wanted to talk about what weight loss really means to you. So I know when we first start thinking about weight loss, it's all "I want to be thinner. I want to lose weight. I don't want to be as fat as I am", but we never really ask ourselves why we want that.


Why do we want to be thinner? Why do we want to lose weight? Why do we not want to stay the shape and size that we are? For most people, the weight loss means to be thinner or to be a lower number on the scales. I cannot tell you the amount of times that I have lost weight and I've lost weight and I've lost weight.


And I'm always striving for thinner and lighter, and I never get to my unachievable goal because that's what it is. It's an unachievable goal, because when I get to a goal that I've set myself, I always want a bit more. So that is problem number one. You will never be happy.


You will never be happy with that goal that you set yourself because you're going to get there and you're going to change your mind and want more. And say you do get to a goal weight or a goal size, what's going to happen when you get there? If you're happy to stay at that size or weight, what is going to happen that will be different to how it is now? Why is that better than being in a bigger or heavier body? Do you even have a reason? That's not me pointing fingers and accusing you of any crazy thoughts, that's just me saying, do you have a reason?


Because you can bet your life, you probably actually don't. Very few people do have a reason, a real reason, for wanting that weight or size. For most people, it's a societal thing. It's to fit in in some way. It's because people are putting pressure on. It's because our peers around us are always doing it.


And when you get to that size or weight, most of the time your body won't look the way you think it will. You have this dream of being thin and having this beautiful, sculpted body. I say beautiful, because that's what we always kind of think of, isn't it? That's what we strive to be, this picture of idealistic beauty. But when you get there, is your body actually what you think it's going to be?


Because I know when I lost weight, I did not have this supermodel figure. I was just a smaller version of how I am now just with less fat, I guess. And any change in my actual figure was because of the exercise that I was doing, because I was doing quite a lot of pole dancing at the time, and my body was shaping because of the muscle that I was using and the exercise that I was doing. I wasn't doing the exercise to get that goal. I was doing the exercise to become a better pole dancer, better dancer, stronger, fitter.


It just so happened that my body changed as a byproduct of that. So if you take out of the loop things like exercise, what actually is going to change your body shape and size other than having less fat, you're not suddenly going to have this supermodel-esque, toned, lean, sculpted body. That's not reality.


Then here's another question to add on to that. That body that you're striving for. Why are you striving for that? Is it to look good? And if it's to look good, who are you doing that for? Are you doing it for the people you pass in the street? Are you doing it for the people you share exercise classes, workspaces, college classes with?


Are you doing it for those people so that they will be impressed? I know that we can look in the mirror and be unhappy with what we see, and I can appreciate that you will have an element of wanting to do it for yourself, but what if you could accept and love the way you look as you are rather than changing the way you look to suit some beauty standards? To suit what other people would prefer you to look like?


Another comment that I hear quite often is or they haven't they let themselves go? No, they haven't let themselves go. What they've done is they've stopped obsessing over dieting. It's a totally different thing. I have not let myself go. I have taken back the care of myself, and in taking better care of myself, I have gained some weight against what people perceived me to be at a lower weight.


But I am taking better care of myself now than I ever did then. So that letting yourself go isn't reality. And here's a radical thought. How about people don't have to look like they've let themselves go? You can be well dressed, well presented, have lovely hair, have lovely nails if you want them. Wear jewellery if you want to. Wear makeup if you want to. You can still be this amazing version of yourself. You don't have to be thin to be that.


And then here's another one. I'm going on holiday soon, right? You're going on holiday, lovely, have a nice time. Just because you're going on holiday doesn't mean that you suddenly have to lose a load of weight.


And what are you losing that weight for? See, it all comes back to thinking about why you want to do it. What are you losing that weight for? Is it so you look better on the beach or by the pool? Is it so you look better when you go out in the evening?


Who are you looking better for? Not yourself I'm willing to bet. You want to lose weight or be smaller because you don't want people to look at you in a swimming costume, in a bikini, in a nice dress and see you as a fat person or a bigger person than you would like to be. So again, you are aiming to lose weight for other people, not for yourself, for other people.


And I can hear you going, "but it is for myself because I want to look better in a bikini. I want to look better in a swimming costume". I understand that. I understand how you feel, but you are concerned with how people are looking at you. You are not solely concerned with how you will look for yourself.


Lots of people will say they want to lose weight for health. There is a big perception that if you are smaller, if you are lighter, that you are healthier. If you are in that "normal" BMI range you will be healthier, because that is what our doctors, our medics tell us. But weight loss doesn't equal health, habits equal health.


You can lose weight in a very, very unhealthy way. You can starve yourself to lose weight. You can do these rubbish shakes diets to lose that weight and all you've done is cut back on calories, restricted, heavily starved your body. That's not health inducing. That's actually having the opposite effect.


Nutrition. That is what is health maximising. When it comes to food habits, regular eating, portions that suit your body and your appetite, food that suits your body and doesn't make you feel unwell, eating at times that suit you because that's when you feel like you need to eat rather than the hours that you've allowed yourself to eat.


There is so much fake health advice out there when it comes to food. Things like you should cut carbs or you should cut fats or you should cut sugars. But actually all those things are needed in a healthy diet. You will hear me say this over and over and over again. Cutting those things out really doesn't have a health benefit for you. Eating a mixed bag of nutrients of all your macros, so your carbs, your fats, your protein, having a good range of lots of different foods, that is health maximising.


And actually, dieting is incredibly dangerous. It's incredibly damaging to health. Weight cycling, that's Yo Yo dieting - basically losing weight, gaining it losing it gaining it losing it gaining it, that's actually been shown to be more harmful than being in a bigger body and not dieting.


And fitness. Exercising. Regular joyful movement. Movement in your day that makes you feel good, that is suitable for your abilities, that is health promoting. And if weight loss is a byproduct of these behaviours, then so be it. But it is the behaviours themselves that will improve your health. It's not the dieting, it's not being lighter, it's not having less fat on your body.


Quite often people will diet to be a part of something, because everybody else is doing it. All your mates at work, they're all on the latest fad diet. Your mate, she's found the best thing that you should absolutely have a go at. Or even just because you feel like if you go to these Slimming groups, you will feel like you have someone else who understands you.


I know what it's like to be in a house with a partner who does not know dieting. He has never dieted a day in his life. I am so jealous of that, but it does mean that he doesn't understand my feelings around my weight, around eating. I can tell him, but he doesn't really understand, and so if you go to a Slimming club, there's lots of other people there are there that all feel the same way as you.


It can be easy to go on a diet and stay on a diet where you feel like you share something with somebody around you.


Maybe you want to lose weight and be thinner to make the people around you happier. A lot of parents will comment on their child's weight, comment on their teenagers weight, comment on their adult children's weight, and they think they're caring. They think that they are encouraging you to "just lose a little bit of weight, love" thinking that that will make you healthier, or it will make you happier, or you look better. Whatever their reasons, they're not often doing it out of unkindness. They just think it will be better for you.


Or maybe for your partner. Maybe you will feel like you're more attractive. Maybe you'll feel like your relationship all round will be better if you could just be more attractive, if you could just lose some weight, if you could just be thinner.


Or maybe it's because your brothers, your sisters, they're not like you. So you feel like you should be thinner to match up to their standards.


Or maybe you feel judged by the people in the workplace. So if you could just lose some weight, they'd be really impressed by that, and you'd feel like you were more accepted. Maybe that will be success bringing for you. A lot of people feel like they have to be looking a different way in order to get a promotion.


So maybe you just want people to stop judging you in all kinds of ways. However, again, this is weight loss for other people, because what if your parents didn't comment? What if you knew that your partner absolutely adores the way you look? What if your partner really loves your relationship? What if your siblings wanted to look like you? What if people just didn't judge you?


What if they weren't judging you, then would you be so keen to lose the weight? Because up until now, you're losing it to please those people. But if those people didn't matter any more, if you didn't care what they thought, if they didn't have those thoughts, you're not going to have that same drive to lose weight.


While you're thinking of things in terms of what other people are thinking, you are constantly going to be comparing yourself to your siblings, to your parents, to your colleagues. You're even going to be comparing yourself to the people at the slimming club.


Remember those people that you feel like you fit in with because they understand how you feel. How many times do you sit there and compare yourself to them? If only you could have lost as much weight as her. If only you could have done as well as them this week. If only you had the willpower that they had. Why do they look that way at that weight and you look completely different at that weight.


And when you're having a bad time, when you're having a bad week and you have to explain yourself in group, you've got Carol over there who's having a great time. She is losing weight like it was going out of fashion. Now all of a sudden do you still feel like you fit in now?


For some I know, myself included, shopping for clothes is an issue, and so part of the desire to lose weight is based around the fact that it's not easy to buy clothes.


Now, you've had me talk in previous episodes about my trials and tribulations of buying clothes. But the reality is that you shouldn't have to lose weight in order to fit what a clothes shop wants you to wear. It is difficult. It is more difficult to buy clothes that fit you. I am not taking that away from you, but the onus is on the shop.


The onus is on the fashion industry to make things better. We need to continually highlight where the fashion industry is failing for people in bigger bodies. For people who cannot just walk into a shop and buy what they want off the rack. These stores need to make it more inclusive. They need to make their ranges more inclusive for people in different body shapes and sizes.


There are some great companies doing some great things clothes wise for people in bigger bodies. So you do not have to change your body to fit into those ideals of the high street stores find yourself some stores that will stock the stuff that you like and in your size. Clothes are meant to fit your body, not the other way round.


So I appreciate that that's difficult, I really, truly do, but that should not be the reason that you are trying to lose weight. And all these things, they're all really difficult. I totally, totally understand it. Everybody wants to be appreciated and loved and admired by other people.


It is normal. It is human nature, but you have to take your health and your happiness into your own hands. You have to stop giving a damn about what other people think about your body. Your body is none of their business. Your worth does not hinge around your weight or your shape or your size.


And if anybody else is putting that on you, shame on them. So here's how you start to get around it. You start by making how you feel about your body about you. This work is hard enough to do without considering other people's feelings too. Do the work for you.


Do it so that you like how you look. Do it so that you feel better about yourself. The reality is that that lower weight, that thinner body, it is not all that it's cracked up to be. It will not be the way you expect it to be. You are not going to have a better holiday because you are thinner.


Wear the clothes, wear the bikini, wear the swimming costume. Go to the pool, go to the beach, make your memories. Anybody else sharing that location with you, your body is none of their business. Those Slimming clubs that you feel like you fit in with that is easily replaced by a tribe of people that really do have your back, who are body positive, who are weight inclusive, who celebrate you as you are now.


I for one am here for you. I am here and I am telling you, you do not need to change to get other people's approval. I will be your cheerleader. You do not need a Slimming club to be your cheerleaders.


Come and join the community that is body positive. That is health at every size. That is intuitive eating. And when I say come and join, I don't mean that there's some secret club you have to join.


I mean, surround yourself with people like that. Surround yourself with social media profiles and things that ooze positivity. Your mindset will change. You will become more positive about your body because you are surrounding yourself with people with messages that tell you you are just wonderful the way you are.


And those people closer to you, your partner, your parents, your siblings, they want you to be happy and healthy, and that happier healthier version is not going to be found in the depths of a diet plan.


Once you give that up, you are more present. You appreciate the other good things in life. Suddenly, food and weight isn't central to your life. That's not the thing that everything revolves around any more, and you start to see how happy you can be just being yourself.


Your partner is with you because they love you as you are. Bodies change over time. That is a fact of life. Maybe they just feel as insecure about their body as you do about yours, who knows? And your siblings, your brothers, your sisters. They probably hadn't even given it a thought.


You are putting that pressure on yourself. You are doing the comparing. Comparing yourself to them and they don't actually care. They just love you for who you are. Those people at work, same again. They are probably wrapped up in their own stuff and really not that bothered about what shape and size you are.


There's always going to be lots of chat in the workplace about food and about dieting and things like that. That's just the way it is, unfortunately. But that doesn't mean that you need to do that dieting. It doesn't mean that you need to adopt those same thoughts. You can be the person driving that change.


You can be the person challenging shops, challenging companies that make clothes. You can be a voice in that crowd. You can be a positive representative of your body type. Take the power. Take the power into your own hands. You don't need to change your weight, your shape, your size in order to be the best version of yourself.


Getting to that point where you feel like you've got all that power is, of course, long journey, but it is a journey that you can start. You can start right now. You can start caring about yourself and you can stop caring about what other people think, and that will give you just the biggest step forward into accepting yourself. Once you stop caring when you stop worrying about what other people think of the way you look, it opens up this whole new world that you can embrace.


Go on. I'm right behind you, right behind you, cheering you on. Really hope that you can start to turn that around. That would be amazing. I'd really love that.


This week I've chosen a question from a listener that fits in so well with this and I hadn't realised how well until I just finished talking and I was thinking about how to answer this question. This week's question is, how do you handle comments from people who are not intuitive eating informed?


Oh, such a good question. It's difficult, isn't it? You've always got people around you that are so quick to comment on food, so quick to comment on what you're eating. What you should be eating, what you shouldn't be eating, or how much you've got on your plate. There's always somebody that's got a comment about your food, isn't there? Now, quite frankly, they can bog off.


You like my choice of words? See, I promised that I would keep this family friendly. I promised you there would be no potty mouth. So that is as strong as the wording is gonna get. But you know where I'm going with that, right?


Know this. It is none of their business. I don't know how many times I have to say that in this episode it is none of their business what you eat, what you drink, what you weigh, what you look like, none of it. None of it is any of their business, but it is difficult to respond when you do get comments. Here are a few ideas of how you can respond.


The key really is to stop the chat soon. If you're in a space where you want to actually educate people around you on intuitive eating, then have a conversation. Open up conversation. That's great. But for people who are just commenting, for people who it's not going to be an easy conversation, you just need to kind of cut it off as quick as you can.


I'm not going to give you exact scenarios in which to use these so you can just take these comments and mix and match them and use them in whatever scenario sees you.


So things like, "Everyone eats differently". "I like what I'm eating right now". "I know what's best for my body" and "I know what food makes me feel good". "I really enjoy this food and it's what I've chosen to eat today". "I have enough food for now. Thank you. I can always have more later, if I feel hungry again", or the opposite of that could be "I've got more than enough food here, I'll just stop when I'm satisfied".


"I don't really want a doughnut right now, thank you, but I know that they're there and I'll grab one later. Thank you". Or then if somebody is saying, "Well, if you don't have one now, then you might not get one" you can say "I'll take the chance, but thanks for the heads up".


Then, you know, you get the questions or the comments about how they couldn't possibly eat what you eat, or they wish they could eat as much as you, or they wish they could be like you and eat as much as you, you know, that kind of thing. Then we're back to the "everybody is unique". "I guess my body handles food differently to yours, but that's cool".


And I know I said I wasn't going to give scenarios, but this one does come up all time. "Should you be eating that" to which you can say "this food is delicious and I'm enjoying it. And life would be very sad if I couldn't enjoy a delicious donut" or enter whatever food you want into that sentence.


Equally, you get comments of "I feel so guilty now I've eaten that" or "do you feel guilty now you've eaten that?" To which you can just respond "you don't have to feel guilty. Guilt is for people who steal, cheat, lie, murder. Guilty is not a word that I choose to use around food".


So there's a few examples there. You don't have to be rude to people. You don't have to get into an argument. You certainly don't have to feel bad about what you're eating or what you're not eating. You can just respond in a nice, gentle one liner that makes it quite clear to them that you're eating what you want because that food feels good satisfies you and you don't have guilt around food.


So I hope you can take some of those and use them. It's quite refreshing when you do say something like that and somebody then wants to have a conversation about it. That's when we can start to educate people and help them understand that you don't have to have guilt around food. But if you just need to use that one line to shut somebody down and stop them commenting on your food, then do that.


In fact, also, never feel bad for saying "I'd rather you didn't comment on my food, if that's okay. I'm on my own journey with it, and it's not particularly helpful for me. Thank you".


Right. My visitors are just about to arrive so that was good timing, wasn't it? Have a great week. Have a lovely bank holiday if it is a bank holiday where you are, and I will speak to you next week. Bye bye.