Step off the scales and keep your mental health in balance
Stepping onto the scales in the morning may be as much of a part as your daily routine as brushing your teeth and getting dressed, but this seemingly harmless activity can have a serious impact on the mental health of emotional eaters or anyone who struggles with low self-esteem. Additionally, regularly or obsessively self-weighing may also lead to you gaining the weight which you are desperate to lose.
As a rapid transformation therapist specialising in weight loss, I often work with clients who have attempted to make their quest for a healthier and happier body all about the metrics. But until the key issues are addressed, i.e., the reason for the unhealthy eating habits, results are unlikely to be seen on the scales or anywhere else for that matter.
Be Honest. How do you usually feel after you have stepped off the scales?
If the answer is sad, depressed, guilty, anxious or shameful, then it is probably time to break off your relationship with the scales. That doesn’t mean that you need to adopt an ignorance is bliss attitude and eat with wild abandon, it simply means less negative self-scrutiny.
Scales definitely have their place in the health and fitness world and in GP’s consulting rooms, but for emotional eaters, that place certainly isn’t in a daily routine.
What Social Science Has to Say
There has been plenty of research on the relationship between self-weighing and low self-esteem, one particularly revealing study, carried out by Professor Jane Ogden, revealed that even people who had a ‘normal’ BMI reported decreased self-esteem after using the scales. That’s not the most worrying part. The only participants in the study to report increased self-esteem were the participants whose BMI fell below average.
This came as no surprise to Jane Ogden after spending over 30-years researching weight management and eating disorders, however, it will come as a surprise to any reader who has only learned about health and wellness by hearing about fad diets and intense weight-loss programmes on TV ads and reading magazines.
One of the main reasons why people fad diet in the first place is to improve their self-esteem, however, by routinely putting yourself through destructive habits, such as self-monitoring, you’re far less likely to achieve that sense of satisfaction when you look in the mirror. If that wasn’t bad enough, people who are vulnerable to eating disorders can alter how they view their bodies after weighing themselves. Some people suffering from disorders such as anorexia can actually see their bodies changing after the scales have registered that they haven’t lost weight, or their weight has remained the same as the last time they checked.
Furthermore, anyone taking the ‘sad step’ off the scales who is currently trying to lose weight may feel less inclined to keep up with their eating healthy after telling themselves that it is pointless trying anyway. When you combine this with the fact that weight fluctuates throughout the day depending on what we have eaten, what we have drank and what we are wearing, some dieters may self-sabotage on the basis of false information.
If Self-Weighing Doesn’t Work, What’s the Alternative?
People often use scales to keep track of their weight-loss progress, while setting goals and seeing how close you are to achieving them can be beneficial, you can think of this approach to health as only addressing a secondary issue and not the primary cause of the problem with your body and weight.
Successfully overcoming emotional eating habits such as comfort eating will take much more than restricting calorific intake and exercise, it will take adopting a mindful approach to your health and your habits, being kind to yourself, and ideally seeking help for the mental roadblocks which you are not able to overcome independently. Asking for help is never a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’re ready for real change.
If you identify as an emotional eater who soothes and suppresses negative emotions such as loneliness, sadness, anger, fear, stress or boredom with food, positive reinforcement is a far effective method to keeping on track with a healthy lifestyle.
Set up a reward system for when you have been successful with your exercise and nutrition plan. No, this doesn’t mean eating healthy dinners for 6 nights a week then giving yourself the permission to have a ‘cheat day’. While plenty of pleasure can be derived from food, there are plenty of other, healthier, ways to reward yourself.
For example, you can add money to a jar, or a savings account every time you hit the gym or successfully complete a day of healthy eating. Once you’ve hit a certain amount, you can treat yourself to whatever makes you feel good; a spa trip, some retail therapy or a minibreak, you’ll be far more likely to stay on track if there is a benefit at the end which won’t unravel all of your progress! With this method, you’ll start to see that deriving pleasure from food only makes you feel worse in the long run. The ways you reward yourself don’t have to be flash and extravagant, it can be any healthy act of self-care which leaves you feeling better about yourself.
Banish the Scales in 4 Easy Steps:
- Stow away your scales, the more out of sight, the better.
- If you’re not ready for the scales to permanently retire, or you’re someone who weighs themselves daily, try cutting back on how regularly you use the scales before going cold turkey.
- Reward yourself every time you successfully go a certain amount of time without weighing yourself.
- If you want to see how your weight loss is going, use a pair of jeans or a t shirt to give you an idea of your progress.
How Can Rapid Transformation Therapy Help Emotional Eaters?
A journey into fitness shouldn’t leave you feeling bad about yourself. Everyone picks up unhealthy habits and coping mechanisms along the way in stressful modern times. RTT can address the root cause of comfort eating, taking the comfort blanket way before the issue is addressed will only result in people needing that comfort even more.
When RTT is used alongside guidance for healthy and nutritionally balanced meals and exercise which is moderate for everyone to engage with, that’s when real progress can start to be made.
Remember, scales can only show your weight, they can’t reflect how healthy your body is. Scales can’t determine between muscle and fat; they also can’t figure out the nutrient value of the food which has added weight to your body. RTT can empower people to trust themselves and their decisions around food. External validation is always nice, but it is even better when that validation can come from within.