In the years before our big diet and lifestyle changes and moving from the world of diagnostic imaging into nutrition I carried an extra 30kg. I had tried so much and thought I was doing the right things - eating as I was told by diabetes clinic (yes I had T2 diabetes too...) and exercising madly to the point of heart palpitations and passing out. I remember days when it was really challenging and I was so disappointed that my weight wouldn't shift that I thought that if I could just gain another couple of kilos, I would qualify for bariatric surgery. It was easier to go up than down. it only took one pasta meal to grab me a couple of extra kilos!
Fast forward 5 years.... here is what back then I failed to realise about weight......
As a nutritionist I have never focused on weight loss. To me weight is another marker telling us that the body is in some way out of equilibrium whether from food sensitivities, inflammation from inflammatory foods, chemicals or stress, hormonal imbalance or suppression of optimal function. There are other just as important markers of health. These include our moods, energy, digestion, whether our immune system is helping us fight infection or if it is overstimulated by auto-immune illness and hormonal function (ranging from blood sugar, stress response, thyroid hormone through to reproductive health).
From personal experience, I found it demoralising being told that I needed to lose weight. I knew I was struggling with weight and lived with frustration, embarrassment and judgement of myself that I couldn’t lose it so to hear it from others affirmed that I wasn’t good enough in my mind. But what if the weight was an extra symptom to add to the list of others (hormonal fluctuations, depression, fatigue) rather than being the cause? Finding health today is focused on losing weight when this is really a side benefit of gaining health! But our modern approach to losing weight has the capability to create deep scars and internal emotional abuse in the way we speak to ourselves.
How many of us gauge our self-worth by a number? Our day can be directed (a great day or a bad day) by the number displayed representing our gravitational pull when we jump on those scales at the same time every morning. That number triggers a barrage of emotion; shame, guilt, un-worthiness, embarrassment, comparison, judgement and fear if it is not what we wanted to see. Anyone who has stood in line anticipating that moment when secretly (yet not so secretly as there are 15 people standing in line behind you) a number is whispered to you or written down for you to process privately will have heard the self talk. “I should have, I could have, why didn’t I do better.” “If only I didn’t go out, if only I was stronger.” This special number is more than a measure of weight, it is tool you can take home and beat yourself up with for not being good enough. Or if you have “been good”, you can praise yourself just for one week on a job well done but in the back of your mind reminding yourself this is not forever…. It is only one week and you must try your hardest not to fall off the wagon….
You are not a number. Your happiness is not derived from a number. Your self worth is not based on a number. You are beautiful and so much more than your gravitational pull. So get the scales out of the house! Let’s stop this nonsense before it is passed down to our kids. Gauge your health by inflammation, bloating, energy, moods, hormonal presentations, digestion, stress and know that weight is just another one of these health markers. When you identify the other health issues they can be addressed and weight loss is a side benefit. Ditch the scales!