Strong is the new beautiful

I’ve Put On Weight

I knew that finding out my weight at my annual physical was going to be a tough moment. In fact, I considered requesting that we skip the weigh-in but decided against that because I do like tracking health data.

I have been on scales a number of times over the past couple of years and they all gave a similar reading but up until now I was able to convince myself that they were off by a few pounds.

Because I cannot weight as much they say…

But when the nurse and I looked at the number on the scale it was confirmed. I weigh 10 pounds more than I did just a few years ago. I have stayed roughly the same weight since I finished high school and also, after 2 pregnancies. And I weighed 10 pounds less even when I was done nursing my kids and was much less active.

If you are ready to stop reading because you are put off by the fact that I am making a big deal about 10 pounds when your weight struggle has gone far beyond that, please stay.

Any person who is obsessed with their weight is affected when they gain weight. The fears about the weight continuing to rise, the scrutiny over every bite of food we take and the fact that thinking about this weight interferes with so many beautiful moments in life every single day are shared between myself and you.

I am offering valuable insight below that applies to anyone who is being ruled by the fear of the number on the scale. Please stay and read on.

I had managed not to gain weight in any of the predictable life stages but now suddenly, as I near 40, I am heavier.

I sat on the examination table at my doctor’s office with my open-back gown, re-evaluating my diet, wondering if I should cut out all potatoes and dairy, avoid dark chocolate entirely and, oh my god, I eat a banana every day….maybe the carbs are the problem! I’ve also been staying up so late…

Suddenly I started thinking that my lifestyle is a mess.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I wanted to skip the scale altogether.

Because, here’s the thing:

Literally, 2 hours before I stepped on the scale at my doctor’s office, I was looking at my body in the mirror and I was happy.

I was happy with the muscles that I saw. I was reflecting on my recent soccer game, the goal I scored, the speed I used to get ahead of the other team’s defenders…I am strong, I am healthy and I know it...and I work for it.

I eat incredibly well 90% of the time. I am more active than I have ever been. If you had asked me prior to getting on that scale how I felt about the healthfulness of my lifestyle I would have said 8/10 if 10 was “extraordinary health and doing everything you can to be amazing.”

And within seconds of getting on the scale all that happiness was gone. Pouf!

Like so many women, my self-confidence and self-love are fragile and easily influenced by the number on the scale.

You and I grew up in a world where our health was measured by our body mass index and “ideal weight” was a number we chose arbitrarily most likely based on what we weighed in high school (this habit very likely picked up from our Slim Fast drinking, LA weight watching mothers who fed us Fruit Loops while telling us not to eat too much or we’d get fat….because that wasn’t just me, right?).

Commercials from our childhood like the one for Special K cereal with the woman in a red body suit claiming “You can’t pinch an inch on me!” lead us all to have a super slim body as the ideal and only acceptable vision for our future self.

Just the idea of any extra amount of fat on my body was enough to make me want to lose my mind.

But amazingly, my actual experience of this…of these additional 10 pounds… when I am not looking at the number on the scale, is that I am over the moon about what my body can do at the gym, how my body allows me to lift heavy things at work every day, do physical work around the house and be active with my family. Sure, pregnancy ruined my once voluminous breasts and I have cellulite that will never go away but I am generally so happy with my body and my overall health.

For many of us the scale has an imaginary red line. Below that line is “Perfection” and above it is “Fat.”  But it’s not real and it is so wrong.

For me, the best plan is to avoid the scale completely.

Instead I generally track my body composition and health based on a specific set of criteria:

  1. Am I taking care of my body (exercise, chiropractic, mobility, massage)?
  2. Am I eating well?
  3. Am I getting adequate sleep that is restful?
  4. Am I coping with stress?
  5. Do I spend time with people I love and who love me?

When I left the doctor’s office and had some time to breathe and think, I came back to these criteria. Here were my answers to the questions above:

  1. I am now more active on a regular basis than I have ever been. I am lifting weights and playing soccer and my muscle mass has increased which will increase my weight. But I do need to be more consistent with chiropractic, massage and mobility.
  2. I eat extremely well (not perfectly).
  3. I could do with a bit more sleep (and this FYI, for someone who does need to lose weight, can be a big factor because it messes with hormones and can lead to consuming more food).
  4. I deal well with stress. (I communicate. I seek personal growth. I let go of what is beyond my control). With that being said, my stress levels are higher when I have not had enough sleep.
  5. I spend time with good people.

These considerations give me a much clearer picture of how I should be feeling about my body. The scale doesn’t tell me any of this.

And I use this information to decide what tweaks I need to make in order to be confident that my body is at it’s ideal composition and health (which for me means taking the right action steps to get more sleep).

Another good moment in this whole episode was when I opened up to a good friend who is very thin but super active and strong. I would have put her at about 25 pounds less than I am.

I told her about my weight and essentially said I was feeling shitty about it. So she told me what she weighed….and I was totally shocked! She only weighs a bit less than me. I would never, ever have guessed that.

And on top of that, I have women in my life that are strong, fit, confident and weigh more than I do…and I idolize them. It never crosses my mind how much they weigh. They are freaking beautiful and how they show up in the world is inspiring; as a patient mother, an strong athlete, an entrepreneur etc.

Weight is by no means irrelevant, but it’s certainly only a part of the equation.

We tend to be misguided about what healthy looks like on a body and on the scale. And our perceived state of beautiful is often different than what is our healthiest weight or body composition and structure. Some people are naturally curvier than others. Others have smaller bone structure.

These are things we cannot change. And that needs to be ok. 

And if you are carrying extra weight that you know you need to lose in order to be healthier then the next step is to change your action steps instead of losing time, feeling bad about your body.

I will be honest with you though, one of my biggest fears is still that one day I am going to see a picture of myself and gasp “Is that really me?”

I admit that I worry that 2 years from now will bring me 10 more pounds.

And although research does not conclude that as women age, we are certain to gain weight, it can still happen and for some people it is actually healthy weight, even if we hate it.

Studies have suggested that people with a BMI that is considered slightly overweight, seem to have longer lifespans and the “overweight” may be protective against mortality. There are a lot of factors to consider in this study but it opens the consideration of how realistic is our “ideal weight” in the first place.

When you find yourself questioning whether or not your weight is ideal, instead of getting on a scale, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I taking care of my body (exercise, chiropractic, mobility, massage)?
  2. Am I eating well (enough or too much)?
  3. Am I getting adequate sleep that is restful?
  4. Am I coping with stress?
  5. Do I spend time with people I love and who love me?

If you are taking the right actions to support your health and you find that your energy, immune system and moods are good and you have recent blood work to back this all up, I really hope that you can logically conclude that your body is beautiful and exactly as it should be.

If your actions seem to be aligned with this criteria but you are not seeing the expected results, get support from an appropriate health professional. You may be experiencing hormonal dysfunction or have gaps in your action steps that you are just not seeing.

And if you need support with these action steps, consider working with a nutritionist to make sure you are doing everything you can to create the healthiest version of you, without worrying about the number on the scale.

Can you relate? Please let me know your experiences in the comments below.

Obviously, losing weight and maintaining that progress can be overwhelming sometimes. Knowing how much you should be eating, how much exercise is enough (or too much) and figuring out what other factors are playing a role can feel frustrating. That is why I work closely with my nutrition consulting clients, to help you create a healthy lifestyle that you love and that you can sustain. Connect with me HERE.



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