When wanting to lose weight occupies your every waking thought, from the pull to step of the scale every morning or multiple times a day praying for a drop to obsessively counting every calorie that is on your plate and in your mouth, it is time to shake yourself out of this all consuming battle. If you think it is not affecting your relationships, work, or overall happiness, think again. Do these sounds familiar?
If I am thin, I will finally get the attention I crave.
If I am thin, I will start to enjoy food and stop obsessing over every calorie.
If I am thin, I will be desired and loved.
If I am thin, I will have the confidence to rock that little black dress I love.
If I am thin, I will finally start that business I dream about.
If I am thin, I will be able to go out with my fit friends and finally have fun!
The fight for a certain number on the scale can start to hold way more meaning than it should. Everything that number in your head represents is truly a bubble of pressure waiting to burst and disappoint you if you get there. Weight loss is not a cure for happiness, boredom, lack of confidence, or a spark for ambition. The obsession to get there can actually make you unhappier, stressed, isolated, and let’s be honest, super moody. Knowing the staggering statistics that 95% of all dieters regain the weight within 5 years and 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting based on information from ANAD it is hard to deny things need to change.
But wait there is good news! After working with thousands of women recovering from disordered eating, I have seen a few key habits that have the biggest impact improving lives. Here are three ways to not your obsession with losing weight ruin your life!
Stop Calorie Counting
Whether using a calorie counter app or food journaling every nook and cranny you eat each day, this behavior can easily become obsessive. Our bodies were designed to tell you when you are hungry and full but tuning into that becomes impossible when are adding up numbers to see if we are on track. An apple turns from a delicious, crisp fruit to only 60 calories. You pick a meal at a restaurant because it has a symbol depicting less then 500 calories, not because it will satisfy you. You are not present in line for coffee because you are too busy entering ingredients to decide if the skim or soy milk cuts the drink down by 25 calories. When it is becoming an obsessive game and you can’t help but comment on your friend’s food because you have calorie counting turrets, this ritual needs to stop. When food becomes about taste, nourishment, and fuel, you will be able taste the food in all its glory and even leave food on your plate because you are satisfied instead of inhaling it all because it is all you are allowed this meal.
Smash Your Scale
Notice I did not say get rid of, I said smash that baby! This was my favorite empowering ritual from the days running the nutrition program at an eating disorder clinic. Gently hiding that puppy under your bed is a recipe for disaster anytime you have a bad day. That bad boy is so seductive. Calling your name, asking you to take the risk and step on. That high of hope the number will drop telling you to be proud. The moment it creeps up, the fasting and suffering for the day begins, but you keep returning for the high of the drop. You don’t make choices based on loving your body and your confidence is coming from a machine that simply spits back a number. It is constantly changing since we are hopefully eating and drinking throughout the day (1 cup of water weighs a half a pound). If you are addicted to the scale, looking for validation and how to feel each day it is time to break out the hammer (at your own risk and I do recommend covering with a towel first). For every hit, remember the negative thoughts and feelings it brought you. Let go of all the moments it kept you from enjoying the day and being present with your family. You can reach your goals without it and start to feel the relief of not thinking of the number from your scale ritual all day.
Redirect Your Body Envy
When you are obsessed with losing weight, suddenly your friends that are thin or fit can cause bring about anxiety because you are playing the comparison game. You don’t want to sit next to them. You compare what you eat and they eat. You envy the clothes they fit in. Maybe you even turn down invitations for a girl’s night out to avoid feeling worse about yourself. Envy is a form of self-pity and can keep you thinking about yourself not others. Remember everyone has a struggle; they come in all shapes and sizes. Just because your struggle is more visible and showing up in the form of extra weight does not meant their life is ideal. You are losing the opportunity to make a friend smile because they had a bad day or to lend an ear to their struggle. Focus on being the friend you want and you will spend less time comparing waist size. Make your life so irresistible to yourself that no matter size you are you don’t want to give it up or trade it in to drop some pounds.
Also published on Huffington Post