Friday, May 21, 2010

Weighing In

It was a charming, tiny, one bedroom Paris apartment we rented for the week, fully equipped with everything we needed—dishwasher, iron, espresso maker.  And a scale.  A scale! There was barely room to get off the bed, but by it’s side was a scale. What kind of vacation has room for a scale, I wondered? Who would choose to step on and off as they enjoyed the French food and wine?

Which brings me to my thoughts about weighing. 
Raise your hand if you think that weighing yourself is helpful in your quest to normalize your weight.  Okay, this is the virtual world, so I can’t see your hands, but I suspect that many of you believe that you need to weigh yourself. That if you don’t, your weight may just spiral out of control. And yet I know that most of you really know better.  If you really stop to think about it and remember the cycle you go through each time you weigh yourself you may not be raising your hand (and I’ll never know). So let’s consider the possibilities that may arise with weighing:

• You’re feeling good, thinking you are eating well to support your goal for weight management (whether it needs to go up, down or stabilize) so you step on the Detecto or other device. But the number is not what you were expecting. Perhaps because you have unrealistic expectations about how much change should occur. Perhaps because of normal fluctuation that has nothing to do with your efforts—hydration, constipation, PMS. You may feel disappointed, annoyed and frustrated with yourself, hopeless even. The result? You sabotage your efforts and undo the positive changes you were making as well as your progress. All because of this metal object determining your worth. Only moments ago, you were feeling good, remember?

• You’ve been off track in terms of your eating and activity and could tell that the scale will only share bad news. And it does. Does it help, seeing the number? You already knew where things were off track. Does the number help the situation, motivate you anymore? Or make you feel worse about yourself?

• You’ve been off track and were expecting the see it reflected in your weight, but lucky for you, that doesn’t occur. So maybe you continue to stay off track, thinking you could get by, and then later it shows up in a big way. Also, not helpful, right?

Before You Step On

So if you are determined to weigh yourself (which by now you can tell I don’t support on a regular basis) I have a few suggestions. Before you hop on the scale, try to do an honest self-assessment. 

• Have you been listening to your body’s signals and responding to them, eating when hungry and stopping when full? Or are you finding yourself detaching from your signals—using fluid loading (coffee, diet soda, water) to fill the void instead of food?

• Are you using food not for hunger but to satisfy many other needs—stress, depression, anxiety, loneliness or boredom? 

• Or because you feel you “ruined it” or “deserve it” or don’t deserve to get healthy and feel well? 

We eat and use food for so many reasons. Once you identify what behaviors are in place/not in place, then set a goal for change.  A practical goal. One you can achieve. And stick to it regardless of what the scale says.  Because you know better than that object on the floor where you stand!

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