A long time ago, humans decided that everyone, but women in particular, should judge their worth by how much their body weighs. Weight, an arbitrary model depicting the strength of the attraction between any object and the Earth, was used to decide whether or not women were permitted to be flight attendants, it is still used to decide which men can competitively fight other men, and it is used for the objectification of women on fashion runways all over the world.
When did we let this insignificant number take control over our lives?
Regardless of age, body composition, muscle mass, or any other myriad of factors that influence weight, doctors continue to use the outdated and imprecise BMI chart to determine health. Women continue to weigh themselves daily as they bounce from one diet plan to another hoping to find the magical formula for a lighter body. Wrestlers, bodybuilders, and boxers fast for days upon days to “make weight” so they can compete in their sport at their weakest from not eating. This is damaging.
Don’t get me wrong. Yes, we should know how much we weigh to give ourselves an idea of our internal health. If you are carrying around a lot of excess fat, that could be detrimental to your joint health, in addition to increasing your risk factors for heart disease and type II Diabetes. But! If you are unhappy with your body and want to lose a small amount of weight, (10-20 pounds) the important thing to ask yourself and understand is “Why?”
Why do you want to lose weight? What will be different in your life when you do? Will you be happier when you lose that weight? Why do you think so?
Fact: No one ever found long-term happiness from staring at a slightly smaller digital number on a scale.
Now I am going to share with you the step by step approach to long term happiness and health.
Step One: Banish your scale to the back of a closet as far from easy access as possible. Then forget it’s there. If you like, put an appointment on your calendar once a year to haul it out and weigh yourself.
Step Two: Prepare food joyfully again. A few times a month, cook something you’ve never made before. Go on Pinterest (Fun!) and look up healthy ways to prepare vegetables and start cooking. Eat more fruit. Eat more whole grains. Try new foods that you hear about from your friends and talk shows. Get experimental and explore new ways to eat that don’t come with a calorie punch.
Step Three: Get regular Activity. Notice: I did not say Exercise. Activity means to walk the dog. Bike up to the local grocery store. Play frisbee in the park with your kids. Kick the soccer ball around in the yard. Go for a walk on your lunch break. Move your body.
Step Four: If you must measure progress, use an old fashioned tape measure and take circumference measurements of your:
- Bicep (5 inches above the elbow)
- Chest (At the fullest part)
- Waist (At the smallest part, usually about 2 inches above the navel)
- Hips (At the widest part)
- Thigh (5 inches above the knee)
Write down your measurements and track your progress over time. Limit yourself to taking measurements once per month.
Step Five: After you have completed the above 3 (possibly 4) steps: re-evaluate. Compare your state of mind with how you were feeling before completing the first step. Are you: Happier? More optimistic? Calmer? More joyful? Healthier? If you can answer “yes” to any of these, then your work is done! Congratulations!
If you say no, then there might be some underlying issues that have nothing at all to do with your eating and activity habits. If you are not healthier, you may have an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed with your doctor.
In the case you are not calmer, more joyful or happier, you may have a different problem that had nothing to do with your weight in the first place. I encourage you to seek out a mental health specialist who can help you sort through what’s standing in the way of your happiness and explore some solutions to becoming happier.
This is not an overnight, quick fix. And this advice is also not for those who have a lot of weight to lose for health, or have gone through a long weight loss journey and are on the tail end of reaching their goals. This is a long term solution for people who constantly think “Oh, if I could just lose 10 pounds, I could be happy.” “Oh, if I just had this one thing, I could be happy.” “Oh, if I just do this diet, I will lose the weight and be happy.”
You are a person who is worthy, loved, and strong. You have every right to seek your bliss. But there is no help for you inside that bathroom scale. And the scale does not determine your worth, love, or strength. Banish it, and start following happiness.