I've struggled all my life with my weight. I was always the heavy one in my family. So much so that my mom put me on a diet when I was 9 years old. Thus, started my distorted relationship with food. Being on a diet that young made me learn that if I wasn't on a diet, I would not be able to look skinny and acceptable to my peers.
Also, I learned the habit of labeling food good vs bad and what to avoid eating when people were looking. This made me feel awful and has resulted in having body image issues still to this day! When I felt like I couldn't stay on a diet, I simply overate anything I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, when I was growing up, eating well and exercising was not a focus. The only exercise I got was in gym class at school.
This cycle would continue for most of my adult life. However, about 13 years ago, I decided to make a change. I joined a gym! I had no idea what I should be doing at the gym, but I did it. I use the elliptical machine, stairmaster, started taking spin classes and yoga classes. It definitely helped me get healthier physically but the weight didn't come off really fast.
I had to start looking at my diet. I used to eat meat all the time and did not plan meals, such as lunch. Opting instead for eating cafeteria food or going out for lunch. Definitely not healthy choices. I started reading about how eating meat all the time isn't good for our bodies. I knew at the time I could not follow a vegan lifestyle (I like seafood too much) but I learned about the flextarian lifestyle. This seemed to be the perfect balance for me. For three or four days a week, I avoid meat. The rest of the days, I'll eat chicken or fish or whatever.
What a difference the flextarian lifestyle made for me! I started noticing I had more energy and the weight was definitely started to come off faster. I also learned during a routine doctor's visit that my cholesterol had dropped - even though it wasn't high to begin with. I was so happy with the results, I've continued the lifestyle and now can't even remember when I wasn't flextarian.
But back to the scale. During this entire time I was weighing myself. I was feeling bad when the scale jumped up a couple of pounds and then really happy when it went back down. What I didn't realize is that our bodies fluctuate with our weight at any given time. I was not yet taking probiotics so if I was bloated, the scale went up and the bad feelings returned.
It was very frustrating! In order to stop feeling this way, I've decided to stop weighing myself & start listening to my body. After all, I know how I feel when I am at an appropriate weight and I know when I haven't been eating as balanced as I should. Do you know what happened? I feel so much freer and happier that I haven't stepped on a scale in months!
It feels like I have cut loose a ball and chain that has been dragging me down my whole life. But how do you start paying attention to your body? Here are 3 tips that helped me:
TIP #1: IDENTIFY WHEN YOU ARE TRULY HUNGRY
This is a big one! When you eat something, you may not be hungry. For example, I've never been a person who could wake up in the morning and eat breakfast right away. Yet, that was my lifestyle! I had been raised that as soon as you wake up, you must eat something. So breakfast would be eaten regardless if I was hungry!
As I've started listening to my body, I've realized I do not have to eat when I wake up just because I've been told I have to. Instead, it takes my body a couple of hours to be hungry. If I know I am going to be somewhere that this type if breakfast timing is not going to work for others, I make sure to carry protein bars or fruit and nuts to eat when I am ready.
Having trouble figuring out when you are hungry? Try this when you are eating a meal. Stop and ask yourself "am I hungry?" If you aren't sure, drink a glass of water. If you feel like you can't eat something after drinking the water, you are not hungry. Nine times out of ten, we are really thirsty not hungry when we are eating something.
TIP #2: NOTICE HOW YOUR CLOTHES FEEL
If you are trying to lose weight, you will know you are achieving your goal if your clothes become looser or fit better. The reason this is important is because if you are weighing yourself often, but not seeing results on the scale, you will have a negative outlook on how your clothes fit. But if you stay away from the scale, exercise and eat healthy, your clothes will start feel different.
This will also help you identify patterns of when you are naturally bloated. Bloating happens - we can't avoid it. Whether it is driven by foods you've eaten or hormone changes, you will have days when your clothes do not feel like they normally feel. By staying off the scale, you will notice this as a natural part of life and it will be easier to figure out why it is happening.
TIP#3: ACCEPT YOUR BODY
Unfortunately, we are bombarded with images of how our bodies are "supposed" to look versus seeing real-life images of real bodies. I think we are slowly seeing changes in the media where normal bodies are becoming more acceptable but an ideal is still out there. Just like my childhood taught me that my body was not appropriate and I had to change it, I bet there are a lot of you reading this right now that can relate.
Don't get me wrong - this is not easy to do. There are still times I look in the mirror and think negative thoughts about my body. There are other times I can look in the mirror and compliment myself. Learning to accept your body doesn't mean you can stop exercising or eating healthy. It simply means that striving to be something you cannot be has to be stopped.
Yoga has really helped me with accepting my body. During yoga practice, there will be people in class who can move from pose to pose effortlessly or get into really difficult poses. I may never be able to replicate those poses but it doesn't stop me from trying. The yoga teachers discuss during class that not every body is made to get into all the poses. That is why modifications are important so everyone can participate in class to the best of their ability.
I hope this post encourages you to stop stepping on the scale and to start listening to your body. It isn't easy but I promise you, it will be worth it. If you stop using your scale, let me know how you are listening to your body! I'd love to hear about your experiences. If you would like more healthy living tips for free, follow my blog on Bloglovin.