Toss Your Scale. Seriously.

scale - no signImagine this scenario:

You’ve been doing pretty well making headway with internally regulated eating (aka intuitive/attuned/mindful eating/eating competence), enjoying formerly forbidden foods with ease and seeing a decrease in the number of times you overeat. You’re feeling pretty relaxed around food and making choices based on what you actually like instead stupid diet rules. Food restriction is becoming a distant memory.

You’re doing a great job of embracing body acceptance, learning compassion towards yourself, and generally feeling much more comfortable in your skin. You’ve even bought a few new outfits and think you look pretty damn awesome.

You’re feeling so confident, in fact, that you decide to get on the scale. “If I’m feeling this good, I must have lost weight!”…even though that was never the point of all this good work.

Then you see the number. Surprise! It’s your highest weight ever.

Your mood comes crashing down. You feel the need to dive into a gallon of ice cream and get lost forever while simultaneously tossing out every last delicious food in your cupboard. You feel that all the clothes that looked cute on you before you got on the scale now make you look horrible. Worst of all, you feel completely unacceptable, unlovable, and unworthy. You so desperately want to diet to “correct” this weight situation even though it wasn’t even a problem a few minutes before.

If this has happened to you, it’s time to get rid of your scale.

At the height of my diet addiction, I sometimes weighed myself three times a day. The act of weighing was not an emotionally neutral act. I was constantly attempting to reassure myself that my societal acceptability – and depending on the number, superiority – was intact. If the number didn’t jive with what I expected, I was obviously a failure. I used these feelings to ensure that I never ate enough to satisfy my appetite.

Wow, just writing that kind of makes me feel sick.

After I started eating to satisfy my appetite, my weight started to go up rapidly. This, of course, is a normal bodily response to weight suppression below one’s natural set point, and I knew that, but before I was fully there body acceptance, the number glaring back at me, judging me, was just hard to see.

But because I had finally committed to letting my body do its own thing, to trust in its wisdom as I learned to enjoy eating again in a relaxed, healthy-for-me fashion, I knew I had to get rid of the scale that had the power to take me from a perfectly fine mood to a much darker, critical one. I knew, at last, that I didn’t need its judgement anymore.

The act of stepping onto the scale is one of self-sabotage. We are telling ourselves that we don’t trust in the process our body needs to go through to reclaim joy and normalcy in eating. We bargain with ourselves: “I’ll eat normally only if I haven’t gained weight…” And then all our good work in eating and body acceptance is undermined. We start restricting – maybe even unintentionally – and the next thing we know, we are overeating again.

If this has happened to you and you’re in a tailspin of bad body feelings, ask yourself – how did you feel about yourself before you got on the scale? If you felt good, why can a number that only represents the Earth’s gravitational pull on your body take that away? What was it you were hoping to find from the number you saw there? Approval? Acceptance?

The scale is simply not a way to gauge your non-diet journey progress, especially if you came from Diet Hell. Metabolic alterations from dieting and other processes that are out of your control have much more to do with what happens to your weight than eating-without-a-diet-plan.

Society puts so much emphasis on the weights of women and their ability to achieve and maintain smallness. This is not about our health; it’s about keeping us obedient. As long as you keep buying into this obedience by judging yourself by a number on the scale, you will continue to prop up the anti-female diet culture that denies us everything. And I know you don’t want to do that!

So the fix is easy: Get. Rid. Of. The. Damn. Scale. You don’t need to know the number to have a great life. It doesn’t tell you anything about your eating progress. It doesn’t measure your worthiness. And it makes you feel bad.

Sayonara, scale. We’ll do better without you.

Let’s Talk

Food got you down? Feel like your eating is out of control? Are you tired of fighting with your weight?  Do you want to get to a place of normal eating but just don’t know how? I can help with all those things. Let’s talk for 20 minutes and come up with some strategies for you. Click here to schedule.

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Dietitians Unplugged Ep 22: There Will Be Rants

Cover2Aaron and I are kicking it solo (duo?) in this episode of ranty rantings about bad science around weight and health, celebrity weight loss pressure, and why we need our fat positive role models so damn badly. Some of my favorite Dietitians Unplugged podcast episodes are when Aaron and I get to catch each other up with what’s on our minds, and this is one of those times.

Listen on:

Libsyn
iTunes
Stitcher

Let’s Talk

Food got you down? Feel like your eating is out of control? Do you want to get to a place of normal eating but just don’t know how? I can help with all those things. Let’s talk – for free! – for 20 minutes and come up with some strategies for you. Click here to schedule.

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Feeling Left Out of BoPo?

BoPo heartOne of the things I’ve heard said recently is that thin or “normal” weight folks feel left out of the Body Positive movement.

It totally sucks to feel left out.

Some feel that the body positive movement is too focused on fat bodies, and this feels alienating to those with thinner bodies. Because fat bodies are highly stigmatized in our society, they do get a lot of attention within the BoPo community because this is radically different from how they are treated outside the community.

So if you are not fat and feel left out of the Body Positive movement – you are not alone. I understand your need for the body positive community to be inclusive of all weights and shapes because body shame can affect someone of any size. You belong in the body positive movement as much as the next person.

But there is a reason why there is often a focus on larger bodies.

First, there is a difference in the way body shame is experienced by fat people and thin people. When you, the non-fat person, experience feelings of shame around your thin or “normal” sized body, you alone experience those feelings. You may feel that others are judging you, but in reality, your body still largely conforms to the expectations society has for women’s bodies: it is within an “acceptable” weight/size range, and is not deemed in any sense “overweight”, “obese” or “fat”. Dealing with feelings of intense body shame is no small feat and the body positive movement is important for you.

When you are fat and dealing with body shame, both you and society feel your body is not “right.” So you experience the double whammy of not feeling good about your body, and also society reaffirming that feeling through institutionalized, accepted weight bigotry. This is underscored most often in fat people’s visits to the doctor, where they often cannot get the same treatment for conditions as thin people do because all problems are blamed on their weight. That is a really big load of stigma to carry, not to mention life-threatening at times.

So, some things to know:

The Body Positive Movement is first and foremost a social justice movement. Body positivity used by individuals as nothing more than a personal tool to improve self-esteem is not the sole purpose of the movement. The Body Positive Movement is about dismantling systems of oppression that keep us in a state of body hatred. So while you can certainly be positive about your own body image in any way you want, Body Positivity, The Movement, hopes for more, for more people, and therefore requires more effort. (and if you’re wondering about how weight loss fits into this, I wrote about that here)

Thin people are not the only people feeling left out the body positive movement. Melissa Toler, Aaron and I talked about this problem on this podcast. The Body Positive Movement feels to many like it only includes the “right” kind of fat body: not too fat, hourglass, white, cis-gendered, symmetrical-faced, able-bodied, female.  This is a huge problem for something that started out as a social justice movement to include all bodies as good bodies. ALL OF THEM.

We need to include all the shapes, sizes, colors, abilities and genders because it takes all of us to lift up not just ourselves but everyone else in need of lifting. So you can be thin in the BoPo Movement while still recognizing that some bodies are not treated equally in the world and therefore need more help in achieving this equality, and that you can help with this kind of advocacy. And there’s a  whole lot of feel-good around doing that.

Also, if you are thin or “normal” weight/shape/size, I want to invite you to join the Fat Acceptance/Fat Positive movement.

Yes, really!

Why? Because we need you as allies. You’ll be helping to address a major civil liberties issue. And you may find that in helping to liberate other bodies, you’ll find some liberation for yourself as well.

You will be with people who are working on accepting themselves just as you are, while also trying to change the culture. We all lift each other up.

PS – just as I was putting the finishing touches on this post, I came across this brilliant article that says everything I’m trying to say here but SO much better.

Want to join my Facebook group where we all lift each other up??

Does Food Rule Your Life?

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Dietitians Unplugged Ep 21: Rebecca Scritchfield Teaches us Body Kindness

Cover2I loved this conversation between our fellow dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield and Aaron and I. Rebecca recently published the amazing non-diet self-care manual, Body Kindness (it’s great, please buy ASAP) and she talks about her personal journey of getting to body kindness herself.

Rebecca’s passion for Health at Every Size® is infectious and her no-hold-barred opinions on everything from nutrition education to bringing HAES® to the forefront of the dietetics profession will fire you up.

Listen on: Libsyn, iTunes, Stitcher

Show notes:
Peter Attia’s TED Talk
Body Kindness
RDs for Body Confidence

Wanna hang out?

We have a cool little group going on over at Facebook where we talk about going diet-free, embracing body acceptance, and rejecting diet culture. Want to join? Click here.

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