The Difference Between Weight Loss & Shape-Shifting

by Tessie Tracy | Fitness, Guest Posts, Life, Mindfulness, Weight Loss

Feb 13, 2017 0 comments

“I just need to lose 10 more pounds!”…
“Once I get down to this number on the scale, I’ll be happy, confident, sexy, lovable”…
“I’m going to increase my exercise and decrease my calories so I can look like her/him”…

Any of these goals sounds familiar? If you are reading this, likely some thought or action has been put on a similar goal as above.

The question is: are these goals serving us?

Let’s all take a moment to ponder where the tendency to focus on ‘losing weight’ comes from… And more specifically, where does the underlying suggestion of “you’re not enough as you are” come from?

Likely, it comes from a combination of our upbringing, society, possibly a traumatic event like having been body-shamed or bullied at a young age, peer pressure, media, etc.

We can all be tempted into this toxic equation of ‘Once I [this], then I’ll be [that]!’

Example: Once I lose 20 lbs., then I’ll feel sexy in my clothes…. Once I get ripped arms, then I’ll feel comfortable in a tank top. Once I’m skinny enough, then he or she will love me.

So if you are thinking, “Yes, I do that, I’ve done that… I’ve measured my self-worth by the way I look”… Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and it’s not your fault.

It’s the world we live in. And it’s up to us to continue tipping the scales (pun intended) in the direction of self-love, self-acceptance, and non-judgment.

The pressure to pursue weight loss is a nasty rabbit hole. And it can happen to anyone.

We are bombarded with “Get fit fast”, “Lose 2 inches in 2 days”, “Burn more calories”… and the TRUTH is… It. Is. NOT. Working. If it would have worked by now, it would have worked.

Current research shows just how much the diet and ‘weight loss’ industry is not working:

  • 95% of people who go on a restrictive weight loss plan gain it back within a matter of 1 year
  • New research shows that weight is not directly connected to health
  • Girls as young as the age of 3 are saying they are on a diet
  • Calorie Restriction, Meal-skipping, and over-exercising will ultimately cause cortisol elevation, weight gain, unbalanced metabolism, and a host of other serious health issues.
  • The $67 Billion weight loss industry is still booming, so it’s obvious their bottom line depends on keeping us coming back for more… hmmm.

Now, if you are someone who is reading this and thinking… ok, but I still want to lose weight. I think I will feel healthier, better, lighter, happier, etc.

I’m not saying you are wrong! I’m saying, let’s shift our inner thoughts and intention around losing weight.

How can we create a healthy life, and at the same time, be comfortable in our own skin? So no matter what we look like (or don’t look like) we are strutting around this world as a self-assured, confident, joyful, generous, healthy, and whole person!?

When we start to focus on self-care and health from a longevity standpoint, we understand that life is about the “big stuff”, like “what are my passions? What’s my purpose? How can I make a difference for others?”

And we gradually let go of the meaningless stuff, like “do they like me? Am I skinny enough? Should I eat that? Why can’t my abs look like his/hers?”

You see, there’s a difference between taking care of ourselves in a sustainable way, and letting food and body image control every thought we have.

When it controls us, it takes up the space that is meant to be used for living our essence. It takes up the thought space that was destined for loving others, being creative, and living the life of our dreams.

Let’s look at some key differences between Weight Loss and Shape-Shifting, a term I learned from my teacher and mentor Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.


Mentality: I’m not ok the weight I am. I’m too big. I’m too fat. No one loves me.
System: Obsession, negativity, control, restriction, stress, and self beat-up.
Results: Short-term, fluctuating, cyclical, frustration, never-ending battle.


Mentality: I’m beautiful, whole and complete just the way I am. 
System: Practicing self-care, self-love, and patience with the journey.
Results: Peace around your relationship with food and body.
**Note** Oftentimes the Shape-Shifting process does result in weight loss.

You see, when we are practicing the self-love, embracing our bodies, and taking care of ourselves in a way that works for us… our body will naturally settle into a weight it’s happy at. And whether you lose 5 lbs more than you ‘wanted’, or no weight at all… you will have succeeded.

While Shape-Shifting is more about the inner work, it can also show up as other physical attributes, not just healthy weight loss. Have you ever seen people who are amazing, big-bodied and beautiful, glowing with confidence and beauty?

Think of women like Queen Latifah, Oprah, or Adele. These women do not fit the media standards of ‘skinny and pretty’ and yet, they’re all unmistakably queens. Goddesses. Not concerned about what others think. They own it.

When we go through the journey of learning to love and accept ourselves at any weight, we will physically show up lighter, happier, elevated, and be glowing.

Now that you have a distinction between a Weight Loss Mindset and a Shape-Shifting Mindset, how do you start?

Here are 3 Powerful Practices you can start right away!

  • If you don’t know already, discover where your desire to lose weight comes from. Have you been told you should lose weight for health reasons? Or is it that ‘last 5 lbs’ you’ve been trying to lose for years?
  • You can do this by journaling about your earliest memories with food and body, or by brainstorming events that may have contributed to sudden weight gain.
  • The practice here is to remind yourself to be curious about your unwanted symptoms or behaviors, instead of being frustrated by them.
  • Create a positive self-affirmation. You will say this in front of the mirror every single morning (preferably a full-body mirror and you are nude… trust the process 😉
  • Begin your affirmation with the declaration “I am” and finish it with the result that you want to create. You can use your equation above to help you. For instance, now you may say “I will be sexy when I lose 10 lbs.” So for your affirmation, you will say it as if it is so: I AM SEXY!
  • Whatever it is you want to be, practice, keyword PRACTICE, stepping into the feeling you will have when you get there. Feel sexy, confident, good in your clothes, happy, joyful, energetic… NOW!
  • When the negative thoughts and comparison creep in, and you start to hear “I need to lose weight, I’ll be prettier, I’ll have a better career, people will treat me better”…
  • Take 5 deep breaths. Say your affirmation. Be gentle with yourself and remind yourself that you are moving forward. You have come so far. Where you are is perfect. How you look… is perfect!
  • The most important part of become… is to have support. I invite you to find at least one person, and accountabilibuddy if you will, who can be there when you just need to talk; who can reel you back in with compassion and non-judgment when you eat the tub of ice cream, and who will stand by you and be committed to your success.

So the next time you find yourself going down that toxic, negative, slippery slope of “I need to lose weight”… Breathe, go back to your affirmation, and step back into the practices above.

It takes patience. It takes practice. And you can do this. When we step into self-love and acceptance in those moments of self-doubt, that is when the magic happens. The “Shape-Shifting” becomes a side-effect of the work you are doing on the inside!

Here’s to your health & happiness,

Tessie Tracy

Tessie is an LA-based Eating Psychology & Mind-Body Nutrition Coach, and a Level2 CrossFit Instructor. She helps busy women age 20-45 develop positive body image, a sustainable fitness routine, and a healthy relationship with food so that they are free to live their highest purpose in this world.

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