For the last 8 years I had no reason to know what I weighed. I had broken up with the scale like it was an abusive boyfriend. My self-esteem took a deep hit every time that I got on it. So, I said “no more”. Weight loss just can’t be my focus.
Well, this winter, I had a reason to know my weight. I bought some new ski equipment and I needed my bindings set to my current weight. If I hadn’t set them to my weight, I could’ve ended up with skis that popped off all the time, or stayed on when they really needed to pop off. Either way, it could’ve led to injury.
The only other reason that I can justify knowing my weight, is if I were to need to take a medication that dosing is dependent on my weight. Again, safety is the reason. Other than that, my weight is simply one of many possible risk factors toward my overall health. And since measuring it led me to a place of questionable mental health, I chose to not bother.
When I got on that scale this winter, I saw a number that I’d not seen before (outside of pregnancy anyway). I watched the barrage of thoughts flow through my head. I remembered quickly why weighing myself had always done more harm than good. I had this urge to make that number mean something and I had to be conscious about keeping facts from fiction.
Let’s start with the facts (since there are far less of those).
Fact: this is the heaviest I’ve ever been.
Fact: my gravitational pull has increased since I last weighed myself.
Yep, that about sums up all the facts. Everything else was fiction. But that didn’t make it easy.
I could have added a few commentaries, and I certainly would’ve in the past. It happened every time that I saw “that number”. You know that number – the one that leads to a major change in the diet and the lifestyle. It’s desperate. It’s frantic.
It follows a dialogue something like this: I’m out of control, I’m so freaking lazy, I’m going to drop dead of a heart attack or get diabetes, I’m such an idiot, I’m so ugly and disgusting, I can’t believe that I let it get this bad, my husband is going to start cheating on me, nobody will take me seriously as a healthcare provider…and so on, and so on, and so on.
It’s a beating that no one could deliver with more vehemence than myself. It’s full of shame and dread and fear. It’s an awful place.
Let me share with you how this time was so different for me. Remember, 8 years of not getting on the scale because of this horrid place; and seeing a number that I had only seen during pregnancy – it could’ve so easily gone so very wrong. I could’ve easily ended up on a new diet and exercise program. I could’ve even convinced myself that it wasn’t about the weight, that it was about my health. And that could’ve been my entry point in the dieting/self-loathing cycle that I’ve happily escaped.
Here’s what I realized:
Fiction looking like fact #1: I’m so freaking lazy, I need to start an exercise program.
Nope, I already do that. In fact, I lead a more active lifestyle than most North Americans.
Fiction looking like fact #2: I’m out of control.
Actually, no. I’m still wearing clothes that I bought more than five years ago. My eating habits are more controlled than ever, since I now listen to my body and practice intuitive eating. No binges.
Fiction looking like fact #3: I’m going to drop dead of a heart attack or get diabetes.
This one is worth is exploring more. While my weight does have the potential to affect my health, it does not define my health. My weight is a possible risk factor for disease.
So, being the geek that I am, I plugged in all of my numbers into two different risk assessment tools (get yours here). One to know my risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next ten years (it’s under 5% btw) and one to know my risk of developing diabetes in the next ten years (it’s under 15%).
So, this begs the question, am I healthy? And what is heathy anyway?
For right now, let’s say that health is defined by having low risk of developing disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis.
Health also includes financial health, stress, mental health, relationships…I could go on a serious tangent here, so I’ll keep this discussion purely in the physical health world and save my overall health rant for another time.
Let’s delve into risk factors.
There’s cholesterol and blood pressure.
There’s activity level.
How about vegetables consumed? Yep.
Family history and of course, gender.
My husband, by being a man, has double the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke. Just by having a penis he has double the risk. Does that make all men unhealthy then?
Since my risk factor (my weight) is visible to everyone, it is assumed that I’m not healthy. It’s assumed that I must lose weight for my health’s sake and A LOT of people feel OBLIGED to tell me that. Even though I’m in the lowest risk category for disease across the board.
But, a normal weighted (hate the term but roll with me here) woman who doesn’t like veggies, hates exercise and has high cholesterol is far more at risk than me. She also doesn’t have to endure any of the HELPFUL advice by family and friends (even strangers on the street or online) who feel compelled in EDUCATING her for her own good about her health.
This is why the body positive movement is so important.
We live and act as though someone with extra weight is a walking disease. That they’re destined to drain the healthcare system of resources and die a horrible early death.
It’s ONE risk factor folks!!
Not to mention, study after study shows that by increasing exercise and improving one’s nutrition, those risks drop. EVEN if weight isn’t dropped!! And by a lot I’ll add. Take for instance the Diabetes prevention program – the diet and lifestyle group only lost an average of 4-8 pounds; but they decreased their risk by 60%. That’s a big deal.
When we treat people with obesity with disdain, when we give Nike a hard time for making clothes that fit bigger bodies, when we shame and bully those with extra weight, we don’t contribute to their health. Not one bit.
When you bully yourself for being fat, you’re not contributing to your health.
When you tell yourself that you’re lazy and have no control, you’re not helping your health.
That’s what I used to do every time that I got on the scale. I’d criticize myself with such harsh words it’s embarrassing to admit. My mental health declined. My physical health declined. I was far more likely to say ‘eff it’ and eat my way through my feelings in that state. It was unlikely that I would get out to an exercise class in that state. I was more inclined to hide my fat, ugly body from the world.
That’s not what happened this winter. I saw a number and stated the facts. The fiction, I’ll leave to the trolls. They don’t seem to have anything better to do with their time.
Please know your risks. Your health is important.
Cardiovascular health: http://chd.bestsciencemedicine.com/calc2.html
And then take care of your health.
- Work towards using a kinder more respectful voice with yourself.
- Find a way to enjoyably move your body more often. I chose to ski this winter and it was the most active winter I’ve had in years.
- Learn to nourish your body instead of depriving it. Create a healthy relationship with food. One that includes all food groups, all celebratory meals, and one that truly satisfies.
If this sounds brilliant to you but you’re not sure where to start, then join me for a live 3-hour workshop. You’ll walk away with tools to start using right away.
Give up on the dieting, not on your health.
Dedicated to helping you achieve peace with your body,