During weight loss, there is one question above all that people will ask.

“How are you doing it?”

Sometimes they won’t pause to let you answer. They answer their own question with, “Of course it’s just about eating less, right?”

And even then sometimes they will go into a speech about what they need to do themselves to lose weight and can’t seem to muster the strength to pull off.

I know that speech. I would recite it many times over. It was a combination of grand possibility quickly followed by a beat down of my character and my lack of ability to ‘do the right thing’.

When I was dieting and losing weight (only to gain it back plus more for luck), I would have sworn success in weight loss was eating less, too.

I would have defined success as not overeating. As losing weight every day. As getting back into those size 6 jeans.

That’s not my definition of success anymore.

It’s closer than that

My mentor, Brooke Castillo, frequently poses the question of what success means to us. In business, in relationships, and in our general pursuit to be awesome.

If we’re not thinking too hard about it, success can mean more money, eating less, losing weight or finding a partner. It means showing solid evidence of meeting our goals for us – and the whole world – to see.

But on a closer look, I realize that success in weight loss is not about eating less.

Success for me was finding all the reasons I ate more than my body needed. Success was finding what I was making food mean.
Success came when I started healing my mind and my body so that eating less became eating effortlessly.

Success was finding all the ways I used food that had nothing to do with its nutritional value.

So I could feel safe.
So I could feel supported.
So I could feel included.
So I could hide.
So I could be rebellious.
So I could have a mini vacation from life.
So I could make my weekends ‘count’.
So I could bond with people.
So I could feel ‘normal’.

For me, success in weight loss means recognizing when I’m reaching for chocolate and Chinese food like it’s an ‘oh shit’ bar on a roller-coaster.

Eating less is no longer my measure of success.
It’s a side effect of all the other successes I’ve had in this journey.

Reach just a little higher

Success with weight loss is so much richer than just dropping pounds.
You need to reach higher if you want the kind of success that lasts.
For it to become your new normal.

Don’t be ok with simply making yourself eat less.
That will get boring really fast.

Plus, the reasons why we gain weight are not about the food.
So why should the solution be about simply eating less of it?

Strive to find the reasons why you eat more.
Strive to understand your inner struggle instead of squashing it.
Strive to connect with your body so you can feel your way to weight loss instead of getting mad at it for not listening.

These are all proficiencies that make us not just lose weight, but also make sure we don’t find it again.

These answers are all within your reach.
The only place to start is right here, right now.

Don’t force yourself to eat less. Ask yourself why you want to eat more.
Ask yourself what that food means to you.
What does it mean when you stop eating before you’re stuffed?

Then dig a little deeper.

Have an honest conversation with yourself about what is going on at that moment.
What emotions are you feeling?
What needs are you trying meet?

Find what it means for you

Be open with yourself – no one else is listening.
Just you, the most important person, will be there.
Be kind and curious about the answers.

In that moment you will feel the freedom of being honest with yourself.
You will feel the calm of understanding where you’ve been coming from for all this time.
In that moment, you will see that food itself is not the issue that needs attention.
It’s your relationship with food that needs unraveling.

In that moment you will feel the success in your weight loss.
Because dropping the pounds of stress feels so much lighter than dropping the pounds of actual weight.

And you can do it within one conversation with yourself.

When people ask me that question of how I’m losing the weight, I cut them off before they have a chance to expand on why eating less is so hard.

“Weight loss is not about eating less”, I say.
“Weight loss is about finding out why I overate. Eating less is just a happy side effect.”