For years, I have facilitated fitness programs for plus-size women. Their reason for joining is almost always a pursuit of the idealistic thin body that is projected upon them daily. And let’s not fool ourselves, this isn’t just about plus-size women — women in general feel the daily pressure to achieve the perfect body. A GLAMOUR survey found that women of varying body sizes have 13 negative body thoughts per day, one for nearly every waking hour.
My clients usually arrive with an elusive diet plan in place ready to change for good, along with a truckload of guilt when they can’t stick to their (often hard to stick to) eating goals. I relate and empathise deeply because for many years I was exactly the same way. Every couple weeks I’d fall off the diet wagon and feel like a colossal failure. My life was full of attempting to be “good,” followed by hunger, restriction, and the inevitable failure when I couldn’t sustain the latest diet trend. Mondays were for starting over. My relationship with exercise was as stop-and-start as the diets. It was always all or nothing.
I thought this was the path to health, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth. It wasn’t just my physical health that suffered, my inability to stick to my “health plan” only deepened my self-loathing.
At the root of it all, my pursuit was really about acceptance; to feel part of a society that typically only celebrates the thin, young, and flawless. Well, many years ago I decided I was done with our society’s form of acceptance, so I ditched the scale and followed my own path to health. Since then, I’ve never been more happy, healthy, and free.
Here are reasons that ditching the scale turned out to be the healthiest thing I could do for myself and you can do for yourself.
1 Diets. Don’t. Work.
Sadly, statistics show that the diet industry is worth over R791 billion yet only 5 percent of dieters lose their goal weight and keep it off for five or more years. There is no other industry in the world that fails so many people while thriving so economically. Don’t get hooked into this cycle, believe me, get out now and kick the scale to the curb!
2 Success is not measured in kilogrammes, and the scale hurts more than it helps
Exercise has endless benefits, including better body composition, better sleep, more energy, improved self-esteem, and improved physiological health, yet we focus so much on the number on the scale to judge its effects. I have seen many people declare that their fitness program “isn’t working” simply because the scale isn’t moving. Just like I used to, they ignore all the other benefits of exercise and often throw in the towel. This is part of the stop-start cycle of diets and exercise, and the scale is often the culprit in our lack of follow-through. Instead of looking at the numbers on a scale, which barely tell you anything, measure your success by how good and strong you feel.
3 The scale will mislead you
Often as part of my attempts to lose weight, I would start going to the gym and gain weight! My body composition was changing as I built muscle mass and reduced fat, but instead if seeing these gains as wins, I would feel like a failure. When you replace fat with muscle you may see the scale going up, not down — another reason why ditching the scale and focusing on other physical benefits trumps all!
4 Restrictive eating can lead to unhealthy practices
When we are constantly referring to a number on the scale it can become obsessive. Been there, done that. I would weigh myself in the morning, on an empty stomach, naked, after going to the bathroom or after a workout. I’d try anything to see a smaller number and it became all consuming. As Psychology Today reports, “Dieting, along with the frequent and compulsive weighing that accompanies it, can lead to eating disorders. According to one source, people who diet are eight times as likely to develop an eating disorder as people who don’t.” Fixating on weight can make food feel like an enemy to be avoided. It’s not! It’s the fuel that powers your body! On that note…
5 Athletes need to eat
Yesterday I rode 75 kilometres on my bike and last night I was starving, like nothing-could-quench-my-appetite starving. I had burned almost 8 400 kilojoules and my body was crying for replenishment. When you’re athletic, you should follow a model of healthy abundance, not restriction. Eat the food! Listen to your body, not the scale.
6 Our weight is not our worth
Many women believe that if they don’t fit into the thin ideal their identity isn’t as valuable. We need to work on changing how we give value and worth to some body types and not others. We see preschool children hurling the word fat at each other because even at a very early age children are affected by our media message. Our value can never be ruled by a scale unless we allow it to be. Every body is valuable. Never let the scale dictate your worth.
Ditching the scale and no longer feeling like I have to weigh myself has allowed me to rule my own life and pursue my athletic dreams in the body I have (my real body, right now, not an imaginary thinner version). It’s allowed me to find a healthy balance in nutrition, to kick ass in fitness and sport, and to believe that I am valuable and worthy of achieving anything I set my mind to. I know this can be true for you too.
I wish you all the health and fitness success in the world.
Louise Green is a plus-size trainer, founder of the fitness program Body Exchange, and author of Big Fit Girl: Embrace the Body You Have.
Taken from Self. Click here to read the original.
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