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Weight Loss Comes at the End of a Process

Sometimes I think I have more discussions with clients about weight than about eating. They tell me what happens when they weigh themselves, ask how often they should hop on the scale, explain that they want to stop but can’t help themselves, and just plain can’t seem to get weight off their minds. Does this sound like you?

Truth is, a focus on weight may actively prevent you from becoming a “normal” eater. Remember this: Weight loss comes at the end of the eating process. Many of you act as if it’s a determinant of what you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat. It is not. You know what happens when you weigh yourself. Either you’ve lost weight or haven’t gained any and are thrilled. Or you haven’t dropped pounds or as many as you’d hoped you would and you’re disappointed. If you’re happy about your weight loss, you may feel it’s okay to eat more than is necessary. If you’re unhappy, you may turn to food to manage your disappointment and frustration and give up caring about your body. Any way you look at it, weighing yourself does not portend a happy ending to the story.

All you need to know to become a “normal” eater is about eating, not weight. The goal is to learn and practice “normal” eating skills. You are learning no new skills when you jump on the scale. I can’t help but harp on this point: you are doing nothing positive for yourself by focusing on weight. It teaches you nothing and misdirects your energies. If you want to be a great tennis player, do you daydream about winning a championship or get out there and practice? If you’re driving to Cape Cod for vacation, do you get into your car and drive or sit there musing about walking on the beach?

So focus on eating. My book, The Rules of “Normal” Eating,” will tell you much of what you need to know about improving your eating. If you always consider your hunger level and don’t eat unless you’re hungry enough, you’re learning. If you take time to consider what you’re planning to eat and whether it will satisfy you, you’re learning. If you eat mindfully and slowly, chewing a lot and letting food sit on your tongue, you’re learning. If you pay attention to diminishing hunger and reaching satisfaction as you eat, you’re learning. And learning is what will rewire your brain to eat more “normally.”

There’s no downside to engaging in “normal” eating as there is to weighing yourself. Start paying attention to the beginning of the process—eating—rather than to the end of it—weighing—and you’ll make progress. You don’t have a weight problem; you have an eating problem. So fix what’s not working and you’ll get where you want to go.