• Michael Mclaren

Needing To Lose Weight vs Wanting To Lose Weight - What's The Difference & Does It Matter?

One of the most common barriers I come up against, is the idea that by laying claim to your right to a positive relationship with your body, is a sign of giving up.

As if by claiming that because we are accepting of how it is today, means this is how we want it to look tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day.

It’s so much more than that.

You can absolutely have an unconditional love and appreciation for your body - and still want to drop a dress or jean size.

My mission is to help manage and remove elements of the stress, anxiety, self-sabotage and self criticism that can be associated with attempts to change our physical shape.

And for me, through my own experiences (which I’ll touch on further down), and my experiences with a variety of people who find themselves struggling to adopt this positive relationship, one of the first places to start is determining the following;

Do you simply want to lose weight?


Do you hold the belief that you NEED to lose weight?

What’s the difference?

Let’s have a look..

Needing To Lose Weight.


From my experience it’s when everything is riding on it.

And I don’t mean in the shorter term sense of “needing to lose weight for a holiday”..

I mean it in the wider sense of believing that you won’t be “good enough” until that weight is gone.

Good enough for what exactly? Well - that’s always one of the first questions I ask. And I’d encourage you to give it some thought.

But, let’s just take it for what it is.

Believing that you need to lose weight, is when there’s a whole lot riding on it.

Whether it’s your value as a person, the value and joy you can bring to others, or the thing that finally gives you permission to be happy in your body - we can’t have it until the scales go down.

There’s a real “past tense” feeling about this.

It’s a focus on what has already happened. It’s a frequent referral back to how we used to look and feel.

It’s a lot of time spent on seeking justification (from ourselves more often than not), on decisions we’ve already made that have led us to here.

There can be this resistance to the situation we find ourselves in, as if we deep down wish we could wake up one day and everything will be different, almost leading to disappointment when things seem to remain the same.

It’s when you find yourself desperately trying to reach a place and state of mind, that whilst always having been, and is, accessible to you right now, seems to always just be out of reach.

To which we blame ourselves for being unable to reach.

Wanting To Lose Weight.

What makes this different from thinking you need to lose weight?

Well, the absence of the word “need” is one thing.

We have nothing majorly riding on this. As in, we’re not placing our self worth and the value we can offer to the world on whether or not this succeeds.

There’s never been anything wrong with wanting to lose a few pounds or fit into smaller clothes.

You can be fully self accepting and still have a goal of wanting to lose weight.

You can be fully appreciating of what you offer as a person and the value you bring to others whilst not being entirely happy with your body.

Hell, I genuinely believe you can have the most positive of body image’s and still have aspirations to drop an inch or two around the waist!

Having that positive relationship with our bodies isn’t about being happy to stay a certain weight - it’s about being able to always appreciate and respect it for what it is now.

Wanting to lose weight as opposed to feeling like you need to, for me anyways, is the ability to not hold on to any anger, frustration or regret around what your situation is now.

It’s being able to focus your attention fully on shaping the path that lies ahead - and not find yourself wishing the path already gone, was different.

It’s knowing your reasons for why you want to lose weight, and therefore realising your happiness, self confidence and/or value as a person is not at the other side waiting for you.

Why Does This Matter?

I spent the best part of 18 years carrying around the burden that I NEEDED to lose weight.

And as I always try to talk solely from my own experiences, I can safely say that belief, was simply one I could have done without.

In fact, that belief eventually almost drove me to the absolute brink.

Because ultimately, the only thing worse than feeling like you need to lose weight in order to be happy, is finally losing it, only to still feel like you need more to be happy.

Or at least it proved to be the case for myself. And I know that won’t be the case for everyone, but I’m absolutely dedicated to ensuring that those who it may be the case for, are able to recognise this.

That belief of “needing” may serve someone else. I’m not for one moment claiming it hasn’t, or couldn’t.

All I’m encouraging is for anyone reading this, feeling like they’re in a position where their happiness is reliant upon a smaller waist or smaller dress size, is to ask yourself whether or not that belief has served you?

Are you able to want to lose weight whilst being able to appreciate and acknowledge your body for what it gives you?

The experiences, the admiration, the positive feelings all associated with things done because your body is capable of doing so?

Or, do you find yourself unable to see that. Or perhaps unwilling?

Both are fine. Beliefs are a strong thing and have been built up and gripped tighter and tighter for what most likely is many, many years.

It’s naive to think they can be changed through one blog post.

What we can do is challenge them.

Let your guard down and just pretend for one moment..

And ask ourselves;

What if I could be happy for what how I am today, and put aside the “dislikes” I have for my body?

What if the self confidence and self belief I’ve been searching for through the scales, was actually just lying within my willingness to appreciate and love my body for what it provides?

What if, I don’t need to stay on this roundabout of self criticism & self sabotage and resistance to what is now, and decide to be at peace with my body.

Maybe, and this is just a thought, the best way we could get the weight loss we want, is to do just that - want it, not need it.

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