The Madness of the Weigh
The Madness of the Weigh : As a diet coach you would assume I enjoy watching shows like Diet Doctors and You Are What You Eat and I do, but not for the reasons you may think.Over the years I have developed a special skill: I can guess people’s weight and how much they’ve gained or lost. I hope you are impressed!
So when my clients sit in front of me and say they feel they have lost weight and, to me, it looks that way. I feel confident that between us we are right. After all, years of playing guess the weight has to count for something.
So far so good, we both feel good at this point and then I weigh them and the answer is not what they expected. That’s when the trouble starts …
Because of a lump of metal and glass all reason goes out of the window.
Reactions To The Scales
I get a variety of reactions which I would like to share with you and do please tick off the ones you have heard yourself say over the years.
- I can’t believe I’ve not lost weight. I have tried so hard this week.
- I worked so hard this week and I’ve only lost 2 pounds. I deserve to have lost more. It is just not fair.
- Is that all I’ve lost? It is going to take me ages to get to my goal. I don’t think I can bear to keep up this struggle if it is going to take me so long …
- Blimey that much! That can’t be right. I ate fish and chips on Saturday so I don’t deserve to have lost all that. The scales must be wrong.
- Wow that much. Probably lost so much because the weather has got better! You may think I am joking but I really have been told this. You know who you are.
Sometimes my clients sit in front of me and say they have had a bad week. I think we all know what this means. It has been a week of unplanned, chaotic eating involving too much food, particularly of the fatty and sugary variety.
Running The Gauntlet
They usually expect to have put on weight or to have stayed the same. Again we run the gauntlet of the weigh in. Again I get a series of reactions. Take your pick.
- “What! I can’t believe I’ve put on that much. It isn’t fair, I see other people eating like I did this week and they get away with it.”
- “Wow I’ve stayed the same! Thank goodness I got away with all that extra eating.”
- “Oh no I’ve put on weight! This is too difficult. I hardly deviated from my plan at all. I just don’t think I can keep so strictly to an eating plan when I get punished like this for the odd extra bit of eating.”
I would imagine that these scenarios are all too familiar to you. But did you realise that, without fail, if the scales do not say exactly what you want them to say you will overeat!
In other words … if the news is unexpected you will overeat!
Let me explain. If you worship the power of the scale you are in danger of hearing yourself say any of the following.
Let’s say you lose more than expected. The chances are you will immediately think:
- “Good, I can ease off for a while as I am ahead of schedule”
- “Good, I can go for a takeaway now as I wont be weighed for another week”
- “Good, I can get away with eating more than I thought, even though I am not hungry”
- “I deserve that cake now as I’ve been so good and have done so well”
All resulting in overeating!
Let’s say you lose less than expected. The chances are you will immediately think:
- “Well that’s not fair: I may as well have that cake as I am no good at this dieting lark anyway.”
- “Well I will have to deprive myself even more to lose weight so I will have one last big treat before I start trying harder.”
All resulting in overeating!
If you have identified with the story so far you need to read on to get an idea of the true consequences of being so reliant on the scales for proof that you are losing weight.
I think you would agree that if you react to what the scales are telling you by using them as an excuse to overeat you will put on weight.
Yes, that’s right, weighing yourself could be contributing to your weight gain.
Do The Maths
Let’s say you weigh yourself every week. A conservative estimate I think you would agree. The scales throw up an unexpected answer. You have the inevitable chat with yourself and then you overeat. Let’s pick the justification for a takeaway scenario.
So you have a MacDonald’s Big Mac and Fries once a week as a direct consequence of what the scales said. That’s 492cals for the Big Mac and 219 cals for Regular Fries. Total 711 cals more than your body needs every week. In a year that translates into a weight gain of 10.5 pounds!
Change Your Way Of Thinking
A solution to this is possible.
If you keep thinking the same way you will keep behaving the same way and you will get exactly the same results.
So the solution lies is changing your way of thinking about your weight and about the power of the scales.
Your weight is the direct result of the amount you eat. Your body needs a certain amount of food that is personal to you alone. You are unique and you need to work out how much food you need. Don’t compare yourself to others. Come to terms with how much food you need.
This will be a different amount to the amount of food you want!
And that is the really tough bit so give yourself a break. Try to forgive yourself for wanting more food than you actually need and move on towards a solution.
Remove Overeating Triggers
The solution lies in removing as many triggers for overeating as possible until you are in a position where you rarely overeat.
I would imagine you have lots of triggers to overeating. Your reactions to lots of different emotions and situations you find yourself in may result in you overeating.
But for today we are going to tackle the scales …
Trust Your Own Judgement
Be clear about their role in your progress towards becoming slimmer. Don’t forget, they are just a lump of metal and glass!
You know when you are losing weight so pay attention to this and build trust in your own judgement. The scales will give you an indication of trends up or down and so a positive way forward is to get on them only occasionally to monitor trends.
Be clear that your attention needs to focus on your problem which is your overeating and not on the symptom which is your weight. So keep your attention on getting your portion sizes right for you and making healthy food choices as much as possible.
Replace the feeling of achievement you got when you saw the scales go down with another meaningful sense of achievement.
Set up a reward system that is not determined by weight but by how well you eat. Reward yourself every time you eat in a way that makes you feel proud of yourself.
Reward systems that could work for you:
Smiley faces for each meal you are proud of. Give yourself a non food treat when you have accumulated enough smiley faces.
Buy a new outfit every time you go down a dress size or go down a belt notch.
Be imaginative with your rewards.