Does your weight influence how you feel about yourself? Have you ever based your self-worth on the size of clothes that currently fit or on the number on the scale? Do you believe your weight is the most important determiner of your health status?
When we are trying to assess health, there are a myriad of things that can be considered…and I would take weight off the list all together.
Let’s talk about weight and size. We humans come in many shapes and sizes, and the narrow scope of “healthy weights” defined by the many reference charts found in books and online are not the reliable measure of one’s health most people believe them to be.
The number on the scale does not tell us:
- What someone is eating.
- How much someone is exercising.
- The degree of muscle mass, bone mass, or hydration someone has.
- Genetic background
- Disease history
- Health and dieting history
If you are wondering what someone’s dieting history has to do with health, a history of dieting resets metabolic norms rendering traditional weight charts and BMI formulas even less accurate. Dieting also teaches us that our internal regulation of hunger and satiety is incorrect. Unlearning this is a necessary process requiring deliberate action.
In fact, weight in isolation tells us next to nothing about health or habits. (Unfortunately, given the weight discrimination in our society, people in large bodies are probably more susceptible to feelings of shame, frustration, and self-loathing, lower self-esteem, and depression.) Yet these weight charts can be the start of body dissatisfaction, leading to early attempts at weight loss and dieting, which are so very detrimental to future health and happiness. These inaccurate assumptions about weight propel diets which in turn diminish health outcomes.
In my book, Ditch the Diet, we take a very close look at where dieting begins and where it leads. In a nutshell, 95% of dieters gain their weight back. Then they continue to find new diets to lose the weight again—and then this happens over and over and over again. With each successive diet there are physical and mental changes that take root creating a vicious cycle and permanent consequences.
One of those consequences may be an inability to ever lose the weight gained from this yo-yo dieting. But again, that does not mean one cannot be healthy. In fact, our health is much more about our behaviors and thought processes than it is about weight.
The health risks associated with dieting and the mental trauma diets cause can be far greater than living in a large body. More on this in future posts.
- It is not necessary to be thin to be healthy.
- The vast majority of dieters (95%) gain back the weight they lose.
- Repeat dieting is a confirmed health risk.
- There is no upside to dieting.
- After all the trauma of the process, the results leave dieters heavier and with added health problems.
So, what is the solution? Well, it is certainly a multi-part process, but it always starts with you. It starts with finding your voice and standing up for yourself and rejecting ideas that don’t serve you. Even if those ideas come from a trusted friend, advisor, or doctor. Just as I remind myself and teach my children we can only control our own actions, choices, and behaviors. The action you are taking is to work on your health and that can be done without ever weighing yourself again.
In order to truly foster health we have to look at our relationship with food, our history as it pertains to eating, and how we eat. These concepts are more abstract and subjective than a clear-cut menu and calorie recommendation. However, learning how to eat is our foundation. As you can see in our “Pyramid to Healthy Eating,” that means learning about eating mindfully and how that looks in your personal life. It also includes allowing yourself to eat and removing regimented rules from eating.
These foundational pieces are what set us up to be able to move into the more concrete strategies surrounding the science of building lasting habits and eating nutritionally. Of course the glue binding these steps together is body acceptance. Body acceptance can be a difficult idea to embrace, but at the root of the eating and diet dysfunction is body dissatisfaction.
Here are a couple strategies taken from Ditch the Diet for working on body acceptance.
Move Your Body
Let your body show you what it can do! Not only does activity promote the release of endorphins, which make us feel good (serving as our own internal mood enhancers), but activity also inspires all sorts of other positive and productive thought processes. After you start moving, I bet you find that you are amazed, appreciative, and proud of what you can do.
Whether or not our physical activity is actually changing the shape of our bodies, somehow it does change how we see ourselves. You will likely view your body in a more positive light when you recognize and are grateful for its capabilities.
Embrace Clothes That Fit You Now
Have you got a closet full of clothes you’re saving for the day they’ll fit again? If so, that wardrobe is not motivating you. It’s actually shaming and discouraging you. You may love that outfit, you may have spent a lot of money on it, and it probably has sentimental value. But believe me when I say, if it no longer fits, it is doing more harm than good hanging there. Your smaller clothes had their day. It is time for you to move on by setting effective, positive goals that will motivate you in the right direction. A tiny talisman in the form of bygone jeans is not that goal. Give them away to a new home and spend a little money on something you love that fits right now!
Part of the process of body acceptance includes buying yourself clothes in your current size that are nice and that you love. Focus on styles, colors, and patterns that accentuate what you like most about yourself: a bright blue shirt that makes your eyes pop, a cute bohemian skirt that shows off your strong calves, bracelets that accentuate your perfectly manicured nails.
I hope this has inspired you to think about ways to love yourself, Ditch the Diet, and move forward with confidence and self-assurance. For more on these topics you can order Ditch the Diet right here: www.Ditchthedietnow.com. You can also get signed up for updates and tips there as well. Get connected with me on social media too! I would love to begin a thoughtful conversation with you.