When was the last time you called a 1-800 number or went to a bank or even the doctor and felt like just a number? You know that feeling, it is like the entire interaction is an automated transaction. It makes you feel unimportant and of no value to them. It can be so frustrating! As human beings we crave connection, acknowledgment and a sense of belonging and unfortunately, we are not getting them from some of these daily interactions. But if being treated like a number is so annoying, why do you apply this same frustrating treatment to yourself? Yes I’m talking about YOU, not the drive thru or the customer service at the bank. When did you start to treat yourself like a number and figured out that it was OK?
You probably don’t know where I’m going with this yet. Well, here is where I’m going: Your scale. The unanimated object in your bedroom or bathroom that shows a number every time you step on it. Last year, I read a research that found that people that weigh themselves everyday lost more weight an kept it off over a good period of time. Around the same time everyone started recommending people to weight themselves daily. I almost cried. To begin, the research was done on a small group, not large enough to be decisive. And secondly, it failed to address any other health markers and the big emotional and mental triggers related to trying to be a “better a number”.
I ask almost all of my clients to put their scales away the moment they start working with me (I sometimes tell them to give it to me . Women specially tend to be borderline vicious with their self talk after seeing increases in “their numbers”. The horrible things that go through your mind when you weight yourself are things you would never say aloud to a dear friend. I happen to disagree strongly with the small research. In my experience clients that check their weight daily are likely to develop a compulsive need and attachment to it. It is as if you could only love yourself when your weight is lowering and if not, you are an ugly, bad or unlovable person. This type of behavior promotes self loading, self sabotaging and it actually does not tell you if you if are healthy or not. You are missing the point because you are not looking a the big picture. These are things like inflammation, digestion, quality of sleep, blood pressure, blood glucose, hydration, energy levels. And that number does not measure joy, relationships, mental focus and self-esteem. The scale is not telling you anything about those things…Do you think these are not as important?
Because I work holistically, I cannot let you chase a number blindly sacrificing your progress and self love. To help you break that “scale checking” habit try these strategies instead. These are ways to know if you are going on the right direction. (so you can put that scale away and begin to treat yourself like a human being not a number)
1. Start a food and mood Journal. Write on a notebook what you eat, the time and quantity PLUS your mood and energy levels (sleep, mental focus, stress, cravings, etc) for at least 30 days. You will learn far more about your diet and habits with this exercise and will discover some interesting connections that will give you proof that some foods are just not working for you.
2. Notice how your clothes fit. The number on the scale doesn’t tell you about water retention, fat vs. muscle ratio or the fluctuations on your weight during the day and even between weekdays and weekends and for women during your menstrual cycle. If your clothes start to feel a bit more loose in areas like the stomach and hips even when you only see little weight change, it means that something real good is happening! This can mean that your body is starting to lose fat, not just water (and perhaps creating muscle). It is also very likely that you are reducing bloating and changing your metabolism.
3. Watch your sleep and energy levels. If you are sleeping better then whatever you are doing is working. No one can lose weight being sleep deprived and call themselves healthy. If you are getting more zzz your metabolism is changing, if you wake up refreshed, your cells are regenerating while your sleep. This means you are fighting early aging. And if your energy levels are improving during the day and while practicing any physical activity, you are definitely moving towards a big change.
Weight loss is the side effect of being healthy. It takes time to change your life and that time is precious. Instead of using it to be harsh on yourself you can learn to read your body and begin to listen to all these signs. Imagine having an actual open conversation with your body and letting it help you on the way. This doesn’t mean you’ll never check your weight, but you’ll do it in a healthy manner, once you have cleared the compulsion. How often should you check? I recommend no more than once a week, preferable at the same time & day. When you focus on a holistic sense of progress you can hear your body saying: Thank you, I love you too. So why don’t we start that new habit: Instead of stepping on the scale every morning, look at yourself in the mirror an say your name, followed by I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH AND I’M GOING TO TAKE CARE OF YOU TODAY.
Let me know how that feels.