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Weighing Weight

A client of mine lost about 30 pounds by stopping dieting and bingeing and learning to eat more “normally.” Like many of the people I treat, she’d previously been hyper-focused on her weight rather than on her eating. This mindset must shift for intuitive eating to start taking hold: losing weight needs to take a back seat to gaining skills in eating and emotional management. I knew the shift had occurred for this client when she said she wasn’t sure if she could lose more weight or if she even wanted to, but that she’d decided, for now, to continue trying to eat “normally” and see where her weight stabilized.

How many of you agonize over losing under 10 pounds: or 7 or 3 or 1? In your head the amount is huge—the difference between night and day. But in reality, what would change if you lost it? Go through every facet of your life and ask this question, “How will this part of my life improve if I lose this amount of weight?” My guess is that the difference would be negligible. Now ask this question, “How will my life improve if I continue to practice “normal” eating and maintain my current weight?” For most people letting go of an ongoing eating problem makes a tremendous difference in the quality of life. They are happier, prouder, and more relaxed, body comfortable, content, connected to appetite and emotion, and engaged with life in general. Gone are the shame, guilt, and frustration that come from trying to micro-manage appetite in an unnatural way.

After talking about the difference 9 pounds would make in her life, my client came up with an idea: she’d find something that weighed that much, pick it up daily, and consider whether losing 9 pounds—the weight of the object—would actually change her life. We explored where changes might occur: in her health, job, marriage, a group she belonged to, with her siblings, mother, friends, or strangers. She couldn’t come up with one aspect of her life that would be an iota better if she were 9 pounds lighter.

What’s your answer to the above questions about eating and weight? If you decide to opt for weight loss, keep monitoring its actual importance by listing specifics of how your life will improve. If you decide you’ll be happier eating “normally” at your current weight, try my client’s idea and find something that weighs approximately what you think you should lose and remind yourself every day that it’s not worth it. You may need to do this for a while before it really sinks in that you can make decisions about what to weigh rather than obsess about it. Remember, your choices regarding how you view your body play a big part in determining your general happiness and satisfaction in life.