Find Your “Happy Weight”

by tinareale on April 11, 2013

Recently I have had quite a few emails with questions about feeling good in your body and achieving a healthy, balanced weight. Questions about how I managed to find what I like to call my “happy weight”. Happy weight. It sure sounds nice, doesn’t it? But…what in the world does it even mean? How do we know when we reach it and what that place physically looks or feels like.

I posted about finding my happy weight after my Body After Baby series on my old blog, but figured it was a topic worth revisiting. It took me years of my weight playing the yo-yo game before even remotely understanding where my body functions best. But, with time, I did eventually find my “happy weight” and would always encourage others to focus on finding theirs over an arbitrary number on the scale, as well. So let’s discuss!

Happy Weight

What IS Your Happy Weight?
In my opinion, three factors play into the definition of a person’s happy weight:

  • a weight your body naturally inclines to when living a balanced lifestyle
  • a weight that you can maintain relatively easily once reached
  • a weight where your body functions optimally and has energy

Four Ways to Achieve Your Happy Weight
1. Overcome Eating Issues. I truly believe you cannot manage to reach a comfortable place for your body if you constantly battle food. I spent years in a vicious binge and restrict cycle. In the past, I could limit myself to 1200 calories a day for days on end without ever achieving a healthy, fit body. Yet, my emotional struggles with food kept me from ever truly achieving a healthy size for myself. I did not reach my happy weight until after my personal journey to overcome binge eating.

2. Learn through trial and error what foods fuel your body best. For years, I consumed myself with food rules and could rattle off what foods someone “should” or “shouldn’t” consume when trying to lose weight. I could tell you the number of grams of protein, carbs, or fat for an “optimal” meal. I could spew off data on a variety of eating plans. Yet somehow I still had no clue how my body worked best.

It turns out eating low-carb, which I believed to be the Holy Grail of dieting, actually caused my body to revolt and hold onto weight. Through trial and error – and relieving myself of all the “cans”, “cannots”, “should eats”, and “mustn’t eats” – I finally began honoring my body and it showed its appreciation by feeling better and better. And also, with time, losing stubborn weight without a sense of deprivation.

3. Discover workouts that keep you energized. Similar to finding a method of eating that suits you, we also must search out ways to stay active that fulfill us. Not every person will love running. Not every person wants to shake it in Zumba. Choose a way to move your body that you will enjoy so you can reap the health rewards of activity without wanting to shoot yourself in the foot. It will keep you motivated to continue and your level of fitness will naturally continue to improve.

4. Don’t kill yourself. Be able to experience life and the fun things that come with it. Healthy living does not have to be difficult. There really are no top-secret files on how to make it work. Simply consume quality foods in appropriate portions, stay reasonably active, and enjoy life. When I found a balance of 80% wholesome, nutritious foods and 20% not-as-nutritionally-sound foods, I could easily keep up with healthy choices consistently (that’s the key). I didn’t have to turn down things I enjoyed and could really live life. Taking the stress off myself improved my happiness and my desire to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

The Number One Way to Stay There
Lose the number! Many of us have a weight in our mind we believe will make us happy. It may be a weight we compare to others or one of our previous sizes. This is not a true happy weight. You can fight your body to reach the number on the scale you think you should be and I can guarantee you that you won’t really be happier. Don’t view your happy weight as a particular number. View it as a feeling.

No Regrets Body Image Quote

If you are having to workout hours a day or want to eat your arm off 24/7 to maintain the weight you are at, it likely isn’t your body’s happy weight.

Your body craves balance. It is a smart machine and will fight being in an unhealthy place. If you don’tfeel strong, healthy, energized, fit, and able to LIVE then you need to adjust what you think is your happy weight. Our bodies know what is best. We don’t need a scale to tell us that. Focus on how you feel and remember – strong, energetic, and healthy looks good on everyone.

  • How would YOU define “happy weight”?

{ 55 comments }

1 Miz April 11, 2013 at 7:38 am

AMEN and number four.
NUMBER FOUR!!!
we all learn that one—I hope?—-sooner or later.

xo

2 lindsay April 11, 2013 at 2:23 pm

YES! Unfortunately, i learned that the hard way, but I LEARNED!

3 Jana @ Happy Wife Healthy Life April 11, 2013 at 7:38 am

Great great post today Tina! I can relate to all points you made :) There was a time when I thought 1200 calories a day was the end all be all for weight loss…and that is simply not true! I could eat 1200 calories a day and not lose weight, but actually gain weight! Talk about frustrating! Along with an unhealthy weight I was hungry, tired, and just plain grouchy. Now I eat much more and I actually lose weight, have more energy, and am an altogether happier person. It takes time to get to that point, but letting go of the food rules and allowing your body weight to settle at its natural point is the only way to go if you want to experience true food freedom! :)

4 Sarah April 11, 2013 at 7:39 am

Absolutely love this! I think this is one of those journeys that many women go through in life, I just pray that I along with others find their happy weight/body faster than slower! GREAT post

5 Beth April 11, 2013 at 7:42 am

Thank you for posting this! I love your BBB, but I noticed so many women were focusing on getting to a size six or dropping 20 pounds and they have been trying to years to do it. I wanted to post maybe you are at your natural weight, but was afraid to say that (I have gotten backlash in other places in the past for saying something similar). I think God created us uniquely and that means having different body weights and not all being the small size. So I appreciate this post, its well said, and I hope more women can start being happy with healthy bodies not skinny ones.

6 Corina April 11, 2013 at 7:42 am

Wow, Tina, you’ve done it again. This post could not have come at a more perfect time for me. Exactly what I needed to here. Thank you!!

7 Dana @momrunshalf April 11, 2013 at 7:53 am

Love this. My happy weight, is when I can look in the mirror and love what I see. I have been working with calories to maintain weight and struggled to know exactly how many to eat, now I just trust my body and it letting me know what I need and keep up with clean eating

8 Kim April 11, 2013 at 7:53 am

I love that quote at the end – very true!!

9 Linz @ Itz Linz April 11, 2013 at 8:10 am

couldn’t agree more with finding an exercise or activity that you love! not only does that help shed pounds, but it always keeps you happy because itz fun!!

10 Betsy April 11, 2013 at 8:13 am

Great post! My happy weight isn’t even a number because I rarely weight myself (I don’t even own a scale). Instead it is how I feel that makes me feel like I am at my happy weight!

11 tinareale April 12, 2013 at 7:29 am

I do the same. Scales can drive me crazy and to doing unhealthy, unbalanced things.

12 Lee April 11, 2013 at 8:18 am

I feel like I am at (or close enough to) my happy weight now, but that’s after losing 12ish lbs. It has to do less with the number on the scale and more with how my clothes are fitting and how I feel like I look in pictures, really. (Is that vain?) I was doing all the exercise stuff right but not getting to this weight until I really took a look at my diet (through weight watchers) and figured out what the problem was.

13 tinareale April 12, 2013 at 7:32 am

I definitely think tracking, weighing, etc can help a person reach a healthier (and still natural) weight for their body and your ways to assess that aren’t vain at all! They’re part of mine too to some extent (and probably most people’s). PS – I think you look GREAT. You always did to me but I do see a change and can tell you feel better about it too. :)

14 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More April 11, 2013 at 8:30 am

I couldn’t agree more with number 2 – ” Learn through trial and error what foods fuel your body best.” Not only the trial and error of what makes your body FEEL best but FUELING your body. The biggest thing for me has been realizing and constantly reminding myself that FOOD IS FUEL. Without it our bodies can’t function and work at their best.

15 Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut April 11, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Amen to that!!

16 Carissa @fit2flex April 11, 2013 at 8:30 am

You are so right girl! I wish more people could feel that way and now how to be at their happy weight. I hurt to see women battle and obsess over food all while trying to be at a weight that wasn’t ever meant to be. I hope a lot of people read this and feel confident in who they are!

17 Laura @ Mommy Run Fast April 11, 2013 at 8:35 am

Such a fantastic post, Tina! It seems like so many women are fighting for just 5 more pounds… but if you’re fighting it for months (years) it’s very possibly you’re at you’re happy weight. I also love your point that reaching a certain number will not make you happier. And that quote about what really matters in life- LOVE.

18 Emily April 11, 2013 at 8:41 am

Thank you!! I needed this today. It’s wonderful to hear that being miserable is not worth it :) Great post!

19 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table April 11, 2013 at 8:46 am

I’m so glad you said that about ditching the scale. I no longer have a happy weight, but a happy “look” instead. It’s all about how you feel!

20 Amy Lauren April 11, 2013 at 8:50 am

I love this post, Tina. I especially like the last picture, that is so true. We all put ourselves through the ringer with noticing pounds or scars or marks or imperfections with our body. I’ve been through quite a few body sizes too, and I’ve never looked back on high school, college, etc and said “Gee, I wish I was skinnier back then, I look so fat in these pictures!”. I had some amazing times, met great people, we had a lot of fun… who cares what size I wore or what the scale said? I guess it’s important if you’re possibly at a weight that is medically unhealthy, but really… life is about so much more than numbers or counting calories. If you have to give up the fun things in life to look a certain way, it’s just not worth it. That’s not living life at all.

21 Jamie @ MyHealthfulPursuits April 11, 2013 at 9:10 am

Hey Tina! I absolutely loved this post and will probably read it 25 more times today haha. I’m finally letting go of food rules and have been practicing intuitive eating for the past two weeks. I’ve had some slips-ups, but overall it has been an extremely positive experience. I know that with more practice I will be able to let go of my food rules once and for all. Even in the past couple weeks I’ve learned a lot about myself and my body. I’ve found that like you, I need carbs to feel my best! They keep me fuller longer and I’ve just generally had more energy since I’ve welcomed carbs back into my life. I’ve also been able to go out with friends and enjoy a couple drinks which is something I always HATED in the past because of the “empty calories.” It turns out, those calories aren’t empty at all. They are calories for the soul :)

22 Heather @ fit mama real food April 11, 2013 at 9:10 am

Number 3 — yup! I’ve found by focusing on fueling for my workouts, it’s brought me to my happy weight. I still indulge from time to time, but it isn’t uncontrollable. That’s they key for me. Controlled indulgence :)

23 Jess April 11, 2013 at 9:21 am

AGREE AGREE AGREE — it takes all of the components you listed above to really get to that happy place weight-wise. It’s not about being overly restrictive and killing yourself (as you said), it’s about finding what works for you, figuring out foods that you love that are also nourishing and yes, fun to eat. And it’s ultimately about learning to love and listen to your body, and figuring out those hunger cues! It’s taken me years to get to that point but I’m finally in that happy weight spot but more importantly, I’m in a very good place food relationship wise. I’m even stepping away from my food log which I’ve kept diligently for two years and have found that yes, I’m STILL eating the way I would if I were logging, I’m just that tuned into my body now that I truly don’t need to list out my eats to know I’m in that right range for my body’s needs. It’s been quite an eye opening moment since stepping away from the log a few weeks back. I can’t even begin to put the right words around that. Anyway, I’m rambling. Bottom line — love this post and your advice as always!!

24 Sarah @ Blonde Bostonian April 11, 2013 at 9:21 am

Number 3 is how I found my happy weight. Once I got into running, I realized how important it is to fuel correctly and to take care of your body. I never take it for granted anymore. Who cares what the number on the scale says – that same body carries me through half marathons!

25 misszippy April 11, 2013 at 9:27 am

Just about never step on a scale..my clothes and mirror tell me all I need to know!

26 Jessie April 11, 2013 at 9:28 am

I am learning SO much about this right now. It’s hard for me to accept that my happy weight will look different than the next girls. I’ve been trying to maintain something that is not healthy for ME (even though you wouldn’t look at me and think I’m too skinny) and I’m ready to find my happy weight. I am finally letting go!

27 Becky April 11, 2013 at 9:53 am

I love this!! Numbers on a scale are not important! I have been telling people this for so long, but I still would weigh myself every day, even though I knew this wasn’t good. I am finally starting to get to a point where I know I don’t need to weight every day because a number isn’t important. I feel healthy and love my body, and that is all that matters. Thank you so much for sharing!

28 Julie April 11, 2013 at 10:09 am

Love this post, Tina! I’ve lately stopped counting calories and weighing myself. It was making me crazy and obsessive… I’ve learned what foods make my body happy, and still enjoy the things I love. It’s all about balance, and fueling your body what what makes sense for you!

29 Amanda @runtothefinish April 11, 2013 at 10:54 am

I love a post that makes me want to hug the writer :) You have said it so well!! It took me maybe the wisdom of age to finally understand the difference between being happy right now and thinking a weight made me happy

30 jobo April 11, 2013 at 11:53 am

absolutely love this post!!! You are right on with this – it needs to be a balance, it needs to work FOR YOU and consistency is key. We should be happy at the weight that is ‘happy’ for us, not just some arbitrary number that we cannot maintain and aren’t happy in other areas of our lives as a result!!

31 Jennifer April 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm

This is one of my all time best posts that I have ever read. You nailed every single idea! Thank you for reaffirming my thoughts on my body. I have always believed that 135lbs was my magic weight. No matter what I eat or how hard I work I always settle out at this spot. The only difference is my body composition. Right now its a solid, strong, muscular 135! THANK YOU :)

32 Tina April 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm

And strong, fit, and HEALTHY is so much more reason to be confident in your body than weighing less and having zero energy, joy, etc. Glad you’re feeling great!

33 Tina April 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm

What a great quote you posted! I’m still trying to get to my “happy weight” but I’m in no rush. I have come a long way. Thanks for always being supportive to me : )

34 Bonnie April 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Great tips all around, Tina! Thank you for posting this and for your solid outlook that you can share with us – I feel like I’m getting closer and closer every day to this and was just thinking I’m grateful today for that. Strong is beautiful! Being you is beautiful! Experiencing life is beautiful! Enjoying people and yourself is beautiful. Thanks Tina!

35 susan April 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I agree. Learning what works BEST for our body is what is really important. What works for me won’t work for everyone else, but when I feel healthy and happy – that’s my key to success. And not focusing on the number is SO HARD, but this time around in my journey I’ve spent more effort focusong on how I feel, and I find it so much easier to keep going!

36 Melissa April 11, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I agree with all of these things! I definitely still struggle with this sometimes. I recently stopped using the scale (my goal is to avoid it as much as possible), because that number makes me crazy. If the clothes fit and I feel strong, then who cares what that number says?! Life’s too short to worry about incorporating ice cream and beer (and chocolate) into your life.

37 [email protected] April 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Oh my gosh!! I could’ve written this! AMEN & AMEN! SO well written, Tina. Such good points! :) Get rid of the number is a huge, huge one. So grateful for my experiences though, and for finding my happy weight (b/c now I can happily grow & have a baby without all those crazy worries)!

38 Janice - Fitness Cheerleader April 11, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I finally found my happy place when I threw out my scale and started paying more attention to how I felt. How I felt after eating a healthy meal, how I felt after a bad meal, how I felt while running etc. It’s definitely been a LONG road getting here though. Great job on finding your happy place!

39 Amanda @ Run Principessa April 11, 2013 at 3:09 pm

All of this is just so true. When I think of defining “happy weight” I think for me it’s a weight that I don’t think about. I just am. Do you know what I mean? I’m not super excited about being less than it, but I’m also not completely depressed about being more. I just am!

40 Tina April 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I know exactly what you mean and agree. Doesn’t come with overanalyzing but with living life in a healthy, balanced, happy way.

41 Ari @ Ari's Menu April 11, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Well said, Tina!! This has always been (and still sometimes is) a struggle for me. When I began my weight loss journey, I had one number in mind, and in the end, it just wasn’t achievable for me. I’ve become so much happier and more balanced since I let that number go.

42 Danica @ It's Progression April 11, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I JUST shared a post today about my challenge this past year with calories and the scale. I had to give up counting calories and stepping on the scale – it was so much pressure, which only I put on myself, and it wasn’t healthy. I eat really well most of the time, I have a treat once in a while when I’m craving it, I exercise, I rest, and I’m always working on my spiritual growth–I’m learning to be healthy without those numbers and it’s so incredibly freeing!

43 Heather @fitncookies April 11, 2013 at 9:15 pm

I love this post! It is so true that everyone’s body is different and needs different things! I have learned what works for mine, to a point, but still learning!

44 Tamara April 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm

I get caught up in the ‘magic number’. You know, the weight you were before marriage and kids (and for me, before I started lifting weights). That number is long in the past and I need to get my head around the new number that’s my new normal!

Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

45 Tina April 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I’ve done that too when I get caught up in wanting to be the X amount I was before getting pregnant with Braedon. I was my smallest actually post Makenzie but not in a healthy, balanced way. I stopped the scale when trying to reach that number was taking over. Best thing I did.

46 Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut April 11, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Goodness I want to share this with every single female I meet!!

It seems like we ALL at one point or another are trying to be a certain size or a certain weight or fit into certain jeans…ugh! Women’s bodies change so much in composition and shape over the years that a scale is usually the last thing we need. I myself haven’t been totally immune to the issue…it usually happens when I can’t fit into a pair of jeans haha. I am currently in the process of deciding whether this is my “happy weight” so I can decide if I need to just go shopping!

It is, however, different for those who are overweight/obese and aren’t eating the right foods or exercising, so of course that group might need to use the scale a little bit for medical reasons…. but otherwise I say throw it out!!

It’s so good to have a blogger like you sharing a healthy, balanced mindset all the time! And knowing that you’ve come to understand this mindset through your struggles, experiences and your education is pretty sweet too. :)

47 Tina April 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Oh, agreed. I never meant to imply that the scale or tracking food or things couldn’t be useful and certainly are important in some ways. When it’s done without a healthy balance, though, that’s when the issues come up.

48 Bek @ Crave April 12, 2013 at 6:50 am

Amazing post! Definitely linking this up for Crave readers- thanks Tina for another great insight :)

49 Stephanie April 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm

It feels so freeing not to worry about my weight. It’s been about a year and a half since I started worrying about a ‘number.’ I only look at the scale at doctor appointments if I feel like it! I also may not be as tiny as I was five years ago pre-college, but I feel better about my body than ever before.

50 Coco April 14, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I think you nailed the definition of “happy weight.” I want to say that I wish I had figured this out sooner, but I’m not sure I could have believed it. In fact, I’m sure I read things like this but thought, “That’s not true for ME.They may be able to eat intuitively, but unless I monitor and restrict every morsel I will be fat.” Ugh. Hopefully this will “click” for some people reading it today.

51 Melanie April 14, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Number One is a biggie. Great article but I do feel that part was oversimplified.

52 tinareale April 15, 2013 at 6:19 am

Thanks for your comment. I didn’t want to branch off into all that could go into that topic in this post, which is why I linked to my section with my experience overcoming binge eating where I discuss a lot more about finding peace with eating issues to get to a healthier place physically and mentally for a happy weight. Sorry for any confusion there. :)

53 Syd June 8, 2013 at 5:59 pm

I really connected to what you wrote about. Currently I am dealing with the same issues. My entire life has been controlled by numbers and I am unsure of how to deal with the fact that the scale says a number I’m unhappy with. I reached a point where I ruined my metabolism, because I would restrict myself constantly. Right now I’m working on eating fuller meals, but it seems as each day comes to an end I become more hopeless I’ll ever be happy with my body. How is it that I judge others less critically than I judge myself?

54 Paige January 4, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Gosh, this was exactly what I needed tonight. I’m recovering from an eating disorder and was having a relapse…for weeks I’ve been convincing myself that 100lbs was THE weight I HAD to be. Not a happy weight at all. You’ve inspired me to want to help myself. Thank you.

55 tinareale January 4, 2014 at 5:37 pm

I’m glad to hear this helped, Paige. It’s alwasy more fulfilling to focus on health and being able to live and enjoy life. I hope you find that balance for yourself. Best wishes!

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