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? I’m talking about the weighting place, where people are just weighing, weighing in the morning and the evening and after meals and after going to the toilet, people are just weighing! (measuring on the scales that is)
This space can still be confusing for me as a health professional, 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 fortunate to work with beautiful individuals, people that I look up to and admire. Teachers, Social workers, Doctors, Mums, Dads, Carers, Nurses, the list goes on. Despite their amazing attributes as a human being, a lot 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 or losing weight; 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: the individual measures 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.
These three scenarios all have an accompanying feeling that the last week was not worth it, and I’ll have to do better next week! Here is the science though: your body weight is dependent on 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 these variables impact how much someone’s body composition could weigh at any one time, and it changes every 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. When interviewed alongside a before and after pic, people will talk about the anxiety of ‘slipping back’. They’re no happier in their lives, their just living in fear of a number increasing or decreasing, is that healthy???
I recently attended a conference presented by a psychologist on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a useful psychological approach to assisting people in living a life of choice, one based on their values. It was enlightening and has significantly helped in the work I do in the disordered eating space. The conference presented a useful tool that I feel can be used to apply to this particular issue. It’s 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??
Some people want to be weighed; others don’t. It isn’t for me to decide, but the preoccupation 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 have an impact with daily.
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, an important part of others lives. Those of us that genuinely care about you 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 should 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