Practicing Self-Care After A Breakup

Love, Heartbreak

Wanting to be a "better" you can turn into a damaging nightmare that won't help you get over your ex

The trauma after breaking up can cause dramatic changes in weight.Wanting to lose weight, especially after a breakup, is a very vulnerable position to be in.

My first job as a personal fitness trainer was to work with a group of 6 women on a weight-loss challenge. They wanted to lose 20 to 60 lbs each. What surprised me was their desire to lose weight was connected to an idea of a "better self". Their skinny self could find love and keep it. Their skinny self would have a more successful career. Their skinny self would be confident and cheery.

As the women started to lose weight, I noticed these ideas working as a self-fulfilling prophecy. They began hiking outdoors on the weekends. They made new friends. They joined dating sites. A few started romantic relationships. They felt happier and more productive at work. We ended up winning the competition, but not all of them lost the weight they hoped for. Those who didn't lose their weight, their happiness quickly dissipated. As their coach, what I realized is that while my group thought their weight decided if they could be happy or not, it was really their changes in lifestyle that made the biggest impact. They could have started these positive habits a long time ago. They could already be their better selves if they thought it possible regardless of their weight.

Why is weight-loss a bad idea after a breakup? Because you, your healthcare professionals, and/or your personal trainer can use tactics that deepen your fears and vulnerabilities that are already intense. I've heard all kinds of crazy rational to motivate someone to lose weight:

Your ex is going to regret ever divorcing you when he looks at your new body

If you loved yourself, you would lose the weight

My recommendations aren't working because you are lying about doing them

You should do this, you should do that, you should, you should, you should.....

How does this losing weight translate into loving yourself when you need so much of it to help you heal? Even if you lose weight, it doesn't help. All the happiness you achieved is fully dependent on your weight. Losing weight does not inherently bring you happiness and it does not create a better self.

Self-Care is a much better approach to achieving health during a time of healing. The primary focus is to make sure you are meeting your needs to help you feel better. This helps you distinguish between a destructive and a restorative habit. For example, not eating past 7pm even when you are hungry is a destructive habit. Eating more vegetables at lunch that are stock full of needed nutrients to boost your energy is a restorative habit. Self-care can result in weight-loss, but you are not reliant on it to achieve your goals. The best way to get over your ex is to heal. The best way to heal is to take care of who you are and your health in its entirety.

Examples of Self-Care

Eating a nutrient-rich diet to restore your body

Taking time for fun activities

Building strength to avoid injury

Building strength to feel more capable

Expanding your social network

Spending time with those you love