- Counting calories
- Counting macros
- Counting steps (lots of counting)
- Body checks
- Guilt when you don’t exercise
- Weighing yourself
Do you relate to any of these? Are they things that you find yourself doing daily? Maybe more than once?
I can put my hand up and say all of these bullet points were part of my daily routines a few years ago. During my eating disorder I did all I could to keep ‘on track’. But you don’t need to have an eating disorder to be swept up into calorie counting and obsessive thoughts.
The question I have is, when do these seamlessly innocent acts cross over into obsession?
You may have started making healthier choices, measuring your fats and sugars, knowing how many calories are in your lunch, choosing salad over pizza, knowing how much you’ve burnt in your weekly spin class, doing all of these this with genuine effort to improve your lifestyle. But I think for a number of people, these good intentions can quickly become something a little more sinister. Exercise is a prime example of this, a number of studies show that young women, in particular, exercise more for appearance and weight loss rather than to improve their health. So are we really enjoying the gym and the classes that we attend so religiously or are we more focused on the amount of calories that we’re burning and our end ‘goal’?
With the influx of calorie counter watches on the market and fitness tracking apps you can understand how quickly a simple interest can develop into an obsession when we’re surrounded by it all the time. Having a giggle with your friends about how many steps you’ve completed this week can swiftly morph into a competition and before you know it the fitness bug has got you by the throat. You dust off the weighing scales and start body checks, you notice the wobbly bits, the parts that aren’t deemed as desirable in today’s society. You begin to buy into work out plans ‘get your dream body in 6 weeks’, ‘washboard stomach of your dreams with these 5 easy steps.’ You set a goal weight and you start the chase, just one more stone, just that bit more, one more push. But it’s never just ‘one more.’
Even if you become aware that your exercise and eating habits are bordering on harmful or obsessive, you may not be able to stop them. It becomes a comfort, a distraction to your everyday life and something you are fully in control of when work becomes stressful or relationships are on the brink.
‘Feeling good is the primary intention’
If feeling good is our first aim, so to speak, then what are we actually craving? When we want to weigh a particular amount, when we want to fit into a certain size, when we want to look a certain way. Is it really this dream body that we’re chasing, or is it the feeling that we believe we’ll have if we reach it? The feeling of accomplishment and success, to feel connected and wanted?
Do you think that if you finally reached your ‘goal’, that weight or that dress size, that you’d be content? That once you’re there you’ll just stop?
I wasn’t content and I didn’t stop.
My ‘goal weight’ was never enough. It very rarely is. It didn’t bring me satisfaction or bliss, just misery and the feeling a failure because I still wanted to be lighter. I wanted to keep going
So here’s my next question; why do we look for validation in our weigh scales? Ultimately just springs and plastic, yet they have this hold over so many people. We jump on the scales daily, maybe more than once. We close our eyes and wait with baited breath to see how our day will unfold.
‘Am I good or bad today?’
Am I ugly or beautiful today?’
‘Am I able to have *yummy food* today or will it have to be a salad?’
And that’s it, whatever that scale displays will dictate our mood and our choices for the foreseeable future.
But this number doesn’t tell you how smart you are, how kind, gentle or compassionate you are. All it tells you is your effect on gravity and that’s not even taking into consideration muscle to fat ratio or water weight! It doesn’t hold your worth!
We are more than what we choose to eat. We are more than a number of steps or number of calories burnt. We are more than our weight!
So please, stop trying to convince yourself that you’ll stop after X more pounds. Stop poking at your belly and jiggling your thighs in the mirror wishing them to change. Stop hating yourself for missing a workout or indulging in a treat. Just try it now. Try throwing all those tools for weight loss out the window (not literally)…… (Well, maybe literally.)
You can love yourself now, just as you are, with your scars and stretch marks, with you jiggles and waves, with your individual beauty and wonder.
‘Eat like you love yourself
Move like you love yourself
Speak like you love yourself
Act like you love yourself’