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It’s crazy when we’re attached to a particular weight and achieving or not achieving it colors our mood. I know there are people who weigh themselves and who don’t think much about the number on the scale, but for those of you who’ve spent much of your life dieting and obsessing about weight, it’s a different story. Here’s how I know.
If you’ve read my books, you’re aware that I had eating and weight problems galore during the first half of my life, then became a “normal” eater and ditched my scale. The only times I’ve known my weight since then have been weighing in at the doctors’ office. But that changed a while back due to some intestinal problems I’d been having, which included—said the doctors’ scale—losing about five-pounds in a short period of time.
Concerned because I hadn’t changed my eating or exercise, I started to monitor my weight. I dug out the digital scale from the garage, dusted it off, tested it to see that it was working properly, and hopped on. In the nano-second before the number appeared, I could feel myself tense up, a kick back from my weight-obsessed days, even though now I was hoping to put on a pound or two. So I began intentionally eating to gain weight and, after about two weeks, to my relief, I was back to my normal weight.
But a funny thing happened on the way to normalcy: I kept thinking about that number on the scale during the day, which then got me to overfocus on what I was eating. Forget appetite, I found myself ignoring my body’s cues and instead counting the calories I was consuming. Due to my decades of dieting, I seem to have slipped back into this mental space quite quickly—and, more scarily, unconsciously. Though I was back at my normal weight, I continued to hop on the scale daily until, suddenly, I was up one pound, then two. What’s that about, I panicked, and immediately started to cut back on the foods I’d purposely been eating to regain weight. Here I was, after decades of “normal” eating, analyzing my food behavior and hooked back into the scale. Ugh!
Then, one day, as I was about to step on the scale, I realized how crazy I was making myself and stuffed the darned thing back into the cabinet where I’d found it. Ah, relief. I could feel it instantly. For the next day or two, I fought the urge to take it out again, knowing the urge would pass. Which it did. Amazing to me how quickly my brain’s grooves re-activated and put me back on old tracks. And amazing how quickly focusing on the scale impacted my eating. The two go hand in hand for some of us, which is why I encourage you to ditch your scale and let your natural appetite guide your eating.
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