Everyone wants to be happy with their weight. The problem is, for most people, actually getting (and staying) there is anything but happy. Or even healthy.
"[Stressing about weight] doesn't contribute to people's best potential physical or mental health in the long term," says Jodi Aman, psychotherapist and author of "You 1, Anxiety 0." "They may obsess, yo-yo, get dangerously thin or stay heavy because of the stress of failing."
Because in actuality, your happy weight is so much more than seeing a certain number on the scale, having a so-called "bikini body" or achieving a target BMI. (Don't get us started on all of the flaws with that health marker!)
What Is Your “Happy Weight,” Really?
Above all else, your happy weight is happy and healthy.
"For me, it's the place where my health, aesthetics, lifestyle and performance intersect, meaning I'm not prioritizing or sacrificing any of those goals over the other," say Molly Galbraith, owner of the Girls Gone Strong fitness community and a former figure competitor who has since ditched restrictive eating and obsessive training for good.
"My weight has fluctuated between 152 and 185 pounds a few times in my adult life, and the interesting thing is that both my highest and lowest weights came when I struggled with food obsession and disordered eating," she says.
"Over the last four years, I've healed my relationship with food and my body, and now my weight sits comfortably between 162 and 172 pretty much all the time. I would call this my 'happy weight' because it's where I sit when myself and my body are most happy."
After all, physical, mental and emotional health don't always peak simultaneously. When they do, however, that's when true health happens. "Your happy weight is one where you feel comfortable with your choices in that they match your values," says Georgie Fear, RD, author of "Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss."
7 Ways to Find Your Happy Weight
OK, all of that sounds good. But how do you actually get to that place?
1. Realize how incredible your body is.
"When you love your body and think of it as a temple, then your whole relationship with eating and exercise changes," Aman says. "If you view both as ways to worship your body and keep it functioning late into your life, every healthy habit is easier to sustain."
Consider all of the amazing experiences your body affords you — from waking up each morning to allowing you to summit a mountain. All of that depends on how you treat yourself and your body.
2. Ditch the “good food vs. bad food” mentality.
Food is neither a reward nor a punishment. It's a part of life you should always feel good about, no guilt involved, Aman says. "I eat whatever I want for every meal and snack, which happens to be about 80 percent protein and produce and about 20 percent less nutrient-dense food," Galbraith says.
3. Find a workout you love.
If you haven't found a workout that you legit love, try something else. There are too many options out there to stick with anything you hate. "When you can go to the gym for enjoyment, I think you've won: You've discovered that working out isn't about losing weight, but about feeling good, feeling strong, feeling confident," says Southern California-based certified personal trainer Mike Donavanik.
4. Give yourself a reality check.
"The photos you see on Instagram, in magazines and in ads — those are all taken under the best conditions: lighting, angles, Photoshop. It's important to recognize that's not real life," Donavanik says. Stop comparing yourself to those images. Consider ditching #fitspo accounts on social media for #realbodies or #bodyappreciation.
5. Take a tracking hiatus.
While logging your calories, macros or weight can definitely help you increase awareness of your habits and their effects, there can come a point when all that tracking becomes obsessive and sucks the "happy" out of any weight. "At your happy weight, you are focused on living and not your weight. It doesn't take up brain space," Aman says.
To get there, try taking a break from tracking until you can entertain the idea without a surge of stress or anxiety. "I step on the scale because I enjoy it, but what the scale says means nothing about my worth as a woman, and it certainly doesn't dictate how I show up in the world," Galbraith says.
6. Listen to your body.
Whether or not you track anything, tuning into your body can help guide you to a weight that's both healthy and stress-free. A big thing to listen to is your hunger cues. "You should feel hungry at certain points in the day, but satisfied after you eat," Fear says. "Don't carry around gnawing hunger for hours or eat until you are uncomfortably stuffed."
Another cue from your body is that you leave your workouts feeling pumped, not defeated. "Your happy weight is one where you feel healthy and energetic, not lethargic, chronically sore or drained," she says.
7. Focus on small, sustainable habits.
You're in this body for the long haul! Treat it that way by taking your sights off overwhelming lifestyle makeovers. Prioritize forging small, healthy habits one at a time. "You feel like you could keep living this way forever," Fear says. "You aren't banking on some day in the future being able to release yourself."
What Do YOU Think?
Are you at your happy weight? What signs did you notice that let you know? Or are you striving to find your happy weight? Did any of these tips help? Are there others you would add? Share your thoughts, stories and suggestions in the comments below!