The most useless place… the weighting place …. this is for anyone constantly worried about your weight

You can get so confused that you’ll start to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed I fear toward a most useless place. The weighting place… for people just weighing!

Ok, so I’ve quoted one of my favourites Dr Suess’ “Oh the Places you’ll go” and swapped out a couple of vowels but what am I on about… well I’m talking about the weighting place, where people are just weighing, weighing in the morning and in the evening and after meals and after going to the toilet, people just weighing! (measuring on the scales that is)

As a Dietitian I have studied the body and food and their connection for the majority of my adult life now and this space can still be confusing for me so how does that play out for people who place such value in that all-important number… your weight!

Put your hands up and Step away from the scales…

I am so fortunate to work with some really wonderful individuals, people that I really look up to and yet despite all their amazing values and strength of character so much of their self-worth is tied up in what the scales spit out. I had two conversations earlier in the week that prompted this post as I was attempting to have them let go of the scales with very minimal success.  Whether they are maintaining, gaining lean muscle tissue or losing, the number has to come second to how your feeling about yourself doesn’t it?

Very rarely are we content with the actual number:

Lost: if someone has lost weight, they feel like they should have, could have or need to lose more.

Gained: if they’ve gained it they stress that it might not be muscle (god forbid someone gains any fat at all these days!)

Maintained: quite often the individual is measuring constantly and stressing, living on a cliff edge of good/bad feelings like the worst thing that could happen is for them to gain anything. Let me tell you though based on daily consumption, water intake, sodium intake, temperature, menstrual cycle, stress, time of day, the scales you’re using… the list goes on: all variables on how much someones body composition could weigh at any one time and it changes day to day.

Regardless of your position, the concern around weight is not unique, you’re not alone and many of us can and will struggle with it at some point in our lives. One of the common characteristics among those that do place such value on the number is the bias it has toward negative emotion. All three scenarios above all lean toward a person feeling lesser about themselves. I once trained a gentleman who had been on the biggest loser, post-show the pressure that he felt around his body and food was so immense he wasn’t able to enjoy his life. Quite often when interviewed alongside a before and after pic, you see on social media people will talk about the anxiety that comes along with ‘slipping back’ almost trapped in their ‘new amazing body’. They’re no happier in their lives, their just living in fear of a number increasing or decreasing… is that really that healthy???

I recently attended a conference presented by a psychologist on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a useful psychological approach to assisting people to live a life of choice and one based on their values. It was really enlightening and has helped greatly in the work I do in the disordered eating space. The conference presented a really useful tool that I feel can be used to apply to this particular issue. Its called the choice point:

If weighing yourself is going to take you toward a life you want then go right ahead, it’s your life, however, I would argue that done daily without any consultation with your health professional team would be more of an away move, wouldn’t it??

As a health professional, I see my role to assist you in making towards moves, toward a life where you are the healthiest version of yourself, living a life in line with your values. Some clients want to be weighed, others don’t. It isn’t for me to decide but the pre-occupation with the number is not something I feel adds significant value to that person’s life.  A behavioural focus on tangible, actionable behaviours…towards moves, now there is where we can add value! If it’s interval training, resistance training, cooking from home, meditation: these are things we can focus on daily not some number.

Imagine a world without scales, wouldn’t that be novel… it could exist if you wanted it to! You’re not a number, you’re a person, a role model to people, an important part of other people’s lives, those of us that truly care about the individual aren’t going to be concerned about daily variations in weight. What I hope you take from this is the energy that goes into the concern around such a number could be redirected into a towards move something of importance to you that speaks to who you truly deserve to be not an away move toward who you feel you’re expected to be.

Thanks for reading

Sean

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