Actively pursuing weight loss involves mental and physical restriction, and that comes with consequences. I can’t think of a single person who lost weight through restriction and then lived happily ever after at the new weight with food never being an issue again. That’s the dream, but it never plays out. We always regain or turn to more and worse restriction to maintain. Food becomes such a big issue when it feels scarce or forbidden.
My advice (and what actually works for me) is instead of pursuing weight loss, pursue AWESOME. If you want to feel confident, happy, strong, fit, connected, loved, or peaceful, go at those directly. We use “goal weight” as a stand-in for everything we want in life, and it’s a flimsy worthless stand-in.
If I want to feel confident, I challenge myself by stepping up, trying new skills, learning new things, and seeing how I improve, seeing how I can handle it. If I want to be happy, I do things that make me genuinely happy, undereating is not one of those, but spending time outdoors, spoiling the dog, laughing with my husband, and binge-watching television shows in my jammies rank pretty high. You get the idea. The big revelation for me is that if I want to be genuinely strong, fit, and healthy, I have to EAT. Eating gives me the energy to live an active life and to have a healthy body, mind, and metabolism. All restricting my food ever got me was a cranky, weak, binge-prone brain fog. It never even delivered sustainable weight loss, not once. I was generally heavier when I was dieting because I was hungrier and more obsessed with food, plus my metabolism was a lot slower, so not exactly a winning combo.
Currently, I eat whatever I want and don’t worry about it, which I realize is completely unacceptable advice to a diet mind. If someone had suggested that at the start of my journey, my head would have exploded. I wanted and needed structure, otherwise I’d overthink until my brain burned. Having just a little structure meant less thinking and more freedom. So, think about a general framework that you know feels good as far as gentle nutrition, meal timing, and foods you enjoy. Then don’t be too much of a nut about it. Stay flexible and pay attention to how the way you’re eating makes you feel. Notice if your meals are mentally and physically satisfying (mental satisfaction is important). Let go of more rules and give your body more trust as you can. Let go of the weight focus and increase the awesome focus as you can. If you keep heading in that direction, you’ll get there.
I’ve been heavier on the scale and leaner than I am now. I’ve also been lighter on the scale with more body fat. I’ve been this very weight having starved myself for months to get here (didn’t stay long those times), and I’ve been this weight after prolonged binge eating (due to prolonged restriction). So it’s not the number on the scale that matters. You can be just fine or suffering mightily at the same weight. How you treat yourself is what matters. Approach your eating with kindness and curiosity, keep your sense of humor, keep the emphasis on how you want to feel, and you’ll have a much better outcome than if you’re prioritizing a scale number.