Let's start with a fundamental question: Does wanting to lose weight actually sabotage your attempts to do so?
I see it all the time.
It starts with “I’m not okay!” Maybe it starts with body-checking, or seeing a reflection or photo of yourself. It could be the pressure (often not consciously realized) of social media, a TV ad, or an article or book about the latest weight-loss fad. Perhaps you overheard a person’s critical comment directed at you – or someone else – about food or body.
These situations can trigger an intense response to have to “do something about it!” So, you are off and running to find a new way – omitting certain foods, going on a so-called “food plan” or adopting the newest cleanse—to change your eating (less) and your body (to be less).
Has this happened for you more than once? Has this scenario been repeated over and over?
If so, you are not alone! The irony here is that it is exactly the opposite of what actually works for creating long-term health, well-being and attaining a “natural” weight, for you. If it actually worked, we wouldn’t have to keep repeating it, right?
Remember the adage “What you focus on most, you get more of it?” It is the basis of what is called The Law of Attraction. When your focus is on food and your weight, it doesn’t use the parts of the brain that can actually help us attain what we are really trying to attain. It leaves out all of the REAL biological, metabolic, neurological, psychological, social, cultural, savory, and spiritual aspects of eating, health and well-being.
There are a lot of myths and faulty messages about eating and weight. Let's start by looking at one specific example of conventional “wisdom” and ignored scientific facts about weight and dieting (reducing food intake by any means).
Weight: is the scale is a fickle measure?
It's fine for you to wish for weight loss. I'm not here to tell you to ignore your scale, if you're choosing to use one. Rather I want to educate and inspire you to a new consciousness about what meaning we have ascribed to weight, and what weight actually is.
By definition, weight is a measure of a body’s (or object’s) relationship to gravity. That is it! Mass is also used to characterize weight, but mass is a measurement of the amount of matter an object or body contains—density related to volume—while weight is the measurement of the pull of gravity on an object or body.
Here's the really important bit: body weight does NOT measure health, nor psychological well-being, self-esteem, beauty, value, ability to love, creativity, and everything else that we all want in our lives. We will explore how it gets hooked on to all of these things in a later article, for now let’s talk about myths and facts about body weight.
Body weight is made up of dynamic body tissues: fat cells, muscle cells, tendons, ligaments, bone cells, blood and other fluids—about 70% water, and all sorts of nutrients, compounds and systems, that are constantly changing and shifting, that the body (not the mind) is managing to maintain homeostasis and basic survival.
Let me drop some science on you
When you step on the scale, the weight you're seeing is the NET of all of these dynamic body tissues, regardless of which part is contributing to the total number of pounds at any one time. Even if net weight is constant, the internal dynamics of your body may still be dramatically changing. According to the definition of mass and weight, the mass of a body (density related to volume) can change, but the weight, or pull of gravity may or may not. And when weight changes, if only measured by a scale, we do not know what the weight contains. Here’s an analogy. Which is more valued: A semi-truck at the weighing station with 10 times more cargo weight than another truck? We can’t answer that unless we know what cargo is contained inside the truck, right? One may be feathers, the other gold!
This also discredits Body Mass Index (BMI)—a height to weight ratio that is used by most doctors and health agencies—as junk science to measure health risks, because it doesn’t take into account gender, body composition (lean to fat weight ratio), metabolic fitness, physical fitness, nutritional status, dieting history, DNA, etc. BMI is however useful as one indicator of health risks – but only when it's at the lower end of BMI, where starvation or semi-starvation can cause loss of hormones, heart muscle, bone, brain shrinkage and all kinds of chronic conditions and even death.
So let's not go THERE.
Can you drop the yo-yo?
Great news – yes, you can. You can get out of the yo-yo cycle and become healthier. It starts with recognizing that the scale is only an indicator of ONE piece of your health journey – not the ultimate authority for your entire relationship with your body and with food.
That relationship starts in your brain, not on your plate.
More in my next article – glad you're on this journey with me.