by Dalia Abott, LMSW, RD
We all have it. That scale style. First thing in the morning, undressed, right foot first, two times for an average. It’s an extremely personal experience, and after 20 plus years in practice, I can confidently say that no two people are alike in how it’s done. However, we are almost all alike in our reactions. Down a pound: I am a patient and smiling person with that little extra pep in my step. Up a pound: #stayawayfromme #bulkysweatshirtasap #iamworthless. Why? Why does one glaring number on a scale get to dictate how we feel about ourselves and how we choose to navigate our world for that day, week? More importantly, when did it start?
Think back to a time in your life when you truly believed you were happy. Most people will remember a time during their teens, when family pressures and finances were not things that needed to be on their personal agenda. Oftentimes we look at pictures and play the ‘if only’ game. If only I could look like that now- I would be so happy. Life would be easier, I could find my partner, get that raise, or better yet wear all the clothes that are on the left side of my closet- finally! However, truth be told if you were to be completely honest with yourself, chances are you still had that negative voice in your head reminding you that your thighs could use a little shrinking, and losing a little belly fat would be very welcome.
Stop The Madness! We have heard it all- Life is too short and tomorrow is not a guarantee. Let’s make a pact with ourselves this moment and begin undoing what we have allowed to be done most of our lives.
In 2018, the weight loss industry hit an all-time peak at $72 billion dollars with over 94 million adults in the US qualifying as obese. We all get it- there is a strong need to begin living healthier lives. However, that does not mean cutting out carbs, fasting half the day or exercising hours at a time will get us where we need to go. Quite the contrary- it all will start and end with our mindset.
Start by asking what is your motivation behind stepping on the scale, and be completely honest with yourself as to whether or not it is punishment based. Stepping on the scale after several weeks of holiday meals is not going to end well. SO STEP AWAY and recognize what you need to do in order to get back on track. Increase your fluids, stick to one plate, or meet a friend for a light jog. Conversely, there are times when you may feel excited to get on a scale because you’ve had a few “good days”. Stop and ask yourself will this potentially be a self-sabotaging act that can ultimately derail my efforts in achieving a healthier lifestyle. It is quite common for one to want to see immediate gratification, especially when there has been a change in behavior, albeit very short term. If yes, don’t bother and just continue staying focused on the important health and behavioral shifts you have been working on.
Next, are you being realistic in your self-expectations? We would not measure our intelligence against Albert Einstein, so why should we try to stack up physically against Kylie Jenner? It is not fair to place such an unworkable belief system onto ourselves and it requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline to fight off the pressures to do so.
Truth be told, if a client believes that they will only be happy once they lose weight, they will never be skinny enough to be happy. Reality is that we do not view ourselves the way others see us. That distortion is where self-esteem begins to chip away. Wanting to make health improvements is great, but one should not hate or despise the state they are in now. Remember, confidence about your body will always be more beautiful than body discomfort.
Dalia Abott, LMSW RD, is a registered dietitian and social worker with a private practice in Woodmere. She specializes in adolescent and family therapy with a focus on eating disorders, body image and self-esteem. She can be reached at (718) 490-9232 or DaliaKAbott@gmail.com.