You got that right, a life without a scale could be just what the doctor ordered. Here are the top 5 reasons to stop weighing yourself. Hint: your life will be better without that unrelenting scale, here’s why.
Ok, so if you can’t tell by my lack of new recipes, my camera still isn’t fixed. Here’s to a few more weeks of experimentation and lessons learned in patience and parting with hard earned $$$ (because this repair is spendy).
On another *almost* as terrifying note, I’ve got a big announcement. Essentially starting in October, I’ll be actually making my nutrition business my full time job. I’d been talking to my manager at my current corporate wellness job since early summer (I’d actually asked to quit then, but 2 of my coworkers would be out on maternity leave & I agreed to stay on for a few extra months), the day finally came around last week when we chatted about the future. I was hoping and planning on staying on just 1d/week, but I was no longer needed for that time, right now I’ll be working as needed-mostly to teach a few health classes/month. So, here’s to 2 more weeks of part financial security before I jump into the abyss of actual full time entrepreneurship. Life doesn’t go as planned, but guess I’ll make it work. And I’m actually really excited (most of the time).
To be cheesy and relate my life back to the actual topic of this post, I’ll relate it back to focusing on weight. Weight is this awful (although my current job is anything but awful) safety net for Americans. We feel comfortable focusing on weight, we’re told from every direction that’s what we should be doing. We see it in the media we consume, we’re fed the lie that our health and happiness are tied up with that number on the scale. That that number is feedback to our success and our self worth. As awful as it is to write down, and see on paper, that’s what we’ve been lead to believe, and it’s a lie. We think it makes us happy, but it just leads to longing and wondering if there’s a better way.
Or wishing that eating food (lots of foods) can be enjoyable & not lead to guilt and misery. This sounds extreme, but if I had a dollar for each time a client or someone I just came across laughed at my approach to nutrition because they really didn’t believe it was possible. It infuriates me to think that we’ve been lead to disconnect so much from food and have such a negative perception of eating, but also sad that it’s impacted so many lives so negatively.
This kind-of relates to my current job (or just not working for myself). I’ve been doing what’s normal, what I’ve been raised to do. My great grandfather started a business with his brother, but no-one else in my extended family is an entrepreneur. I was never raised to think I could do my own thing. Most dietetics programs do nothing to prepare you for entrepreneurship, at least mine didn’t. But after 5 years of in the nutrition field (because I started working as a diet tech a couple weeks before unexpectedly being accepted to a dietetic internship-but that’s a story for another day). It’s something that I have never really felt fulfilled by or empowered by. Then 3 (or even 4! yikes) years ago, when I started my first nutrition blog, things changed. I did things my way, I embraced the grey areas of life & was able to grow and learn in ways I never could have expected. It wasn’t easy, but it was productive and challenging and made me grow.
Focusing on weight is ‘safe’, its totally acceptable in our society, to the point where it’s encouraged, we get feedback on our weight all-the-freaking-time. People comment on weight changes like we’re more or less good for changing our weight, like we’re accomplishing things or failing at life. That sucks.
ok. sorry. I really don’t know where I’m going with this, but scales and focusing on weight really sucks. Partly because after learning more about health at every size, body image, and what nourishment currently looks like to me, I can’t promote weight loss. Our focus on weight loss is flawed, it’s tied up in many other issues, and it’s HARD. I’m not so good with explaining it, so I’ll turn it over to one of my favorite Utah dietitians, Emily Fonnesbeck in her KSL article, Why Focusing on Weight Can be Harmful to Your Health. Ya. She said it, I echo it.
Here are five reasons why ditching your scale just might be the best thing you can do for yourself.
1. Weight isn’t a good measure of health.
Think about the concept of hydration. When weighing yourself daily or consistently, we focus on every single digit. Losing one pound is exciting and you think you’re doing great — but on the other hand, if you gain a pound, you feel like a failure.
Think about it — if you drink 16 ounces of water, you’re going to weigh one pound more. Is drinking that water unhealthy? Probably not, especially in the heat. This is one small example of why focusing on weight may not be so productive. So does that weight gain reflect failure or unhealthiness? No, it doesn’t. A review of controlled weight loss trials shows why.
2. Focusing on weight can lead to unhealthy habits.
If weight loss is your main or only measure of success, you can totally miss the mark. In a previous health-related job I’ve had, I had to weigh hundreds of employees every few weeks. Through that experience, I noticed a few trends: Many people I weighed expressed frustration that they were doing “all the right things” and lost a small amount of weight or none at all.
On the other hand, I saw a few people who were losing weight rapidly. I asked them what they were doing, and a few reported that they were eating almost nothing. Now, these anecdotal reports aren’t scientifically sound, but they are reality for some. If you’re pursuing weight loss at any cost, you may be risking your health or your well-being to reach a certain number on the scale.
3. A ‘healthy weight’ is kind of arbitrary.
A healthy or ideal weight as promoted in the media is not that. One study looked at the BMIs of contestants of Miss America pageants since the 1920s. I’m no fan of the BMI scale, but with the increased health risks of a low body weight/BMI and possibility of eating disorders that may lead to that weight, this is appropriate. The average BMI of contestants in 2010s was 17.5.
It’s important to note that weight/height ratio is only naturally found in about 5 percent of women. Secondly, that tells the rest of the women that an ideal body is one similar to that. It may be impossible for most women to achieve this weight in a way that promotes health and well-being.
4. Weight bias makes things really hard.
We’ve either experienced it or seen it, or even done it. Our society praises weight loss at face value, and there’s a stigma associated with living in a larger body.
Anyone who makes lifestyle changes, either positive or negative ones, and is congratulated for those changes knows what it’s like. All of a sudden, your value and you are being tied into your weight. You’re being noticed, you may be asked what you did to achieve it. You’re getting positive reinforcement.
But the truth is that your value has nothing to do with what your body looks like, your ability to accomplish difficult things has nothing to do with your ability to restrict and lose weight. Our society focuses on so much on weight, and we can easily miss out on nourishing our bodies.
5. Dieting for weight loss often results in failure.
For so many people, dieting is a vicious cycle that doesn’t really ever end. Experiences from past participants of The Biggest Loser tell us a lot about the perils of dieting. Their diets wrecked their metabolisms and lead to weight gain in the long run.
In addition to wrecking people’s metabolisms, dieting causes us to feel a sense of powerlessness. Diets, for example, don’t work for most people, and when those diets don’t work we, as the dieters, feel like failures and don’t attribute our inability to follow a restrictive often miserable diet to the actual diet. Also, diet rules often trigger an inner rebellion because they infringe on your own ability to choose for yourself.
Clearly, this is a complex issue and many of the complexities aren’t brought up in this short article. Essentially, people can be healthy at any size, if we focus on enjoyable ways to move more, eat a wide variety of foods, practice gentle nutrition, reduce stress, and be kind to ourselves we can drastically improve our mental and physical health. Here are additional resources to learn more about really improving your health and well-being.
- Health at Every Size, haescommunity.com
- Beauty Redefined, beautyredefined.org
- Intuitive Eating, www.intuitiveeating.org
So, with all that said, instead of focusing on weight loss, focus on separating your value from your weight, focus on nourishing your mind and body with positive self-talk and health habits that make your body feel better and yourself empowered.
Let’s get chatty:
- What do you think about throwing out your scale? Yay or nay?