We are a society obsessed with thinness. Rare is the woman who does not at some point, if not every day, worry about her weight. Increasingly, men are subject to this critical tyranny as well. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the claim that a person will finally “be happy” when she or he loses a certain number of pounds.

The British spend north of £3 billion annually to try to lose weight. That’s billion with a “b” — or a lot of 0’s. £3,000,000,000. These pounds go to everything from gym memberships, weight-loss programs, and special diet foods and beverages. And the kicker is, none of this works to lose weight and keep it off.

But the money spent on weight loss is cheap compared to the cost in time, mental energy, and attention. How many people go through an entire day without a single thought about needing to weigh less? Very few. Most tie up enormous amounts of time in self-critical examination, rumination, and recrimination. Mental battles about what and when to eat, failure to adhere to that, struggle with clothing, and discomfort are often a daily norm.

Let’s start a rebellion! Let’s push back against this self-defeating preoccupation. First of all, happiness is much more complicated than a number of pounds lost. Secondly, it’s the wrong focus! Learning to accept our bodies is the first step to becoming skillful in how we manage them. Making peace with yourself is a huge undertaking. But your desire to change will be far more effective if it is grounded in a foundation of kindness and self-acceptance.

Weight is a significant problem in our country, with obesity rising along with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. We also now know that weight loss is far more complicated than “calories in, calories out.” Everything from hormones to sleep patterns to metabolic rate play a role in a very complex system.

We think the topic merits a deeper exploration than an obsession about shedding some pounds. What is your body telling you about your lifestyle? What steps might you realistically take to address the goal of feeling healthy, energetic, and comfortable in your own skin? Approached with a loving, accepting attitude rather than a punitive and punishing one, you may find you make far more progress toward being a person you can respect and nurture, than by following the latest diet plan or punishing exercise regime.