Tag Archives: body image

image via harvard school of public health

Your weight does NOT define you!

By: Jill Ouhrabka MS, RD, LDN, CHC

Working with clients, particularly those who are struggle to lose weight there is a common theme…they all are focused on the number on the scale!  Once they let go of weighing themselves they stop focusing on calories and food and end up loosing weight!

Why is this?

When you weigh yourself, you feel good if your weight is where you want it and badly if it is not where you want it. This reaction to the number on the scale can fuel your mood for the day causing negative (or positive) thoughts and emotions particularly related to body image and food choices. You may find yourself restricting calories or food to try to lose weight or making poor food choices because your weight is where you want it. Why does your weight make it okay or not okay to eat certain foods?

By focusing on your weight, you are so focused on changing the number on the scale that you are not actually listening to what your body needs and this can cause many weight issues. You are also not taking into account that your weight can fluctuate a great deal during the day and depending on what is going on with your body.

What is the answer?

If you have to weigh yourself, do it once a week as an objective measure. Don’t let the number define you.  Remember that the number you see on the scale says nothing about your body composition including body fat versus lean muscle. It does not account for height or body frame.

Focus on how you feel in your body. When you are eating well, exercising in moderation, and your clothes fit well, you are going to feel good about your body! When you stop focusing on the number, you can focus on how you feel and what your body needs (as far as food, sleep, nutrition, exercise, meditation, etc).

How can you get to a healthy weight?

Focus on balance. Eating foods that are healthy most of the time, and those less healthy foods in moderation- don’t deny yourself, eat less.

Diet: Focus on eating breakfast everyday and then eating every 3 hours.

Exercise: Aim to exercise most days of the week for 30 to 45 minutes/day.

Sleep:  Get enough sleep! If you are tired, your body will think it needs energy and you will end up eating more!

Stress: Manage stress with exercise, meditation, and yoga. Stress can cause weight gain so managing it daily is essential.

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Food Addiction Journal Entry

Note: “This is a journal entry when I was at a pivotal point in changing my eating habits and behaviors. Journaling has really helped me learn why I binged, and struggled with food. I encourage you to start journaling and trying to understand why you are struggling to maintain a healthy weight or struggle with food. My hope is that by sharing these types of entries, you will realize you are not alone with your food addiction or weight struggles. I struggled for 16 years. You can get better, there is hope. Do not give up!!” ~Jill

April 19, 2010

To most people a cookie represents happiness. It is something sweet that they crave and eating it fulfills the craving which then passes. To me, a cookie represents fat, calories, and “being bad.” If I ate a cookie I would be “misbehaving.” This does not apply simply to cookies but also to pancakes, cake, pastry, candy, butter, lard, oil, essentially anything with fat and sugar. I realize as I write this how most people will roll their eyes and say “get over it” or “just eat it!” but I also realize that these people would have no comprehension of what it is like to be physically afraid of food.

More and more I am really getting the whole idea that food is what we need for energy.  This simple statement seems like a no brainer but if it was so simple to just eat for energy there would not be such an epidemic of obesity or a rising number of eating disorders and food addiction. I am continually trying to train myself to eat and think more in terms of refueling my body. I am thinking of my body as a car, it won’t work if it doesn’t have fuel. For instance, if I go for a run I will think of the energy I just used and realize that I need to “refuel” in order to continue to operate. I am thinking of my body in much nicer terms. I would not be able to live if it did not support me. I must support it with healthy foods and give it enough food. I am trying to appreciate myself much more.

In many ways I really love and admire my body. I find it amazing that my body can operate on its own and it will keep me alive as long as I provide it with the tools it needs.  While high fat/ high sugar foods are what taste great, they are not the best choice for providing the body with the energy and nutrition it needs to survive. The best choices are low fat, nutrient dense foods like brown rice, vegetables, lean meats/fish/protein, and dairy products.

My whole life I have looked at my body as a means of acceptance to others.  It was like a competition, everyone needed to be the same small pant size or something was wrong with you. I have thought that if my body could look a certain way then I will be more loved by my family and more accepted by strangers and the general population. I remember when I lost weight in high school and college- I loved when people would compliment me on my figure-it made me feel “better than the rest.” Now I realize that this method of thinking is absurd. The reality is that being a certain size is not what is important but rather what you are physically putting into your body (or not putting into it) that is important.

My goal going forward is to eat for health, not happiness/comfort/guilt/etc. I want to become one of those people who changes their whole life simply by eating better and exercising. My biggest challenge is eating right. I keep eating two and three hundred calorie meals and then snacking a lot because I am still so hungry. While I almost never go over my calorie allotment, I also never really feel full. This is something I would like to work on as well.

I really wish this was not such a struggle for me. I wish I could just eat whatever I want and not care but I can’t…not yet.