There are many reasons why people decide to focus on changing their weight. These goals may be to increase their health, to feel better about their body relationship, and to feel better overall. Weight change may also be a goal suggested by someone else. Recently I came across weight loss as a suggested pleasurable activity in a therapeutic workbook.
While well-intentioned, focusing our attention specifically on weight change or achieving specific numbers on a scale can help reinforce a standard of self-measurement that can be quite unhelpful in helping us to achieve valued goals for health, self-worth and self-esteem.
Within Desired Weight Range =Sense of success, confidence, increase in self-worth, health
Above Desired Weight Range=Sense of failure, lack of confidence, impacted self-worth, unhealthy
The Limitation of Focusing Mainly on Weight Control
When weight becomes our measure of our success, health, or well-being, our attention and energy is likely to be centered on controlling weight. Instead of giving attention to how our actions can support us in enhancing our well-being, a weight-control lens narrows our view to whether our actions supported us in controlling our weight.
Did eating a regular breakfast versus skipping it lead to a weight change? How about going to yoga or walking the dog? Did cutting out butter make a difference? How about carbs? We can see how weight becomes the focus of attention and the way that our actions might reflect our underlying values for health and well-being may be overlooked.
As we move attention away from our weight to our underlying values we are empowered to explore actions that support us with nourishing health, self-worth, and self-esteem.
Moving From Weight-Control Focus to Enhancing Your Well-Being
Does the idea of focusing a little less on weight and numbers on a scale seem a little scary? You might worried that if you don’t focus on controlling your weight you’ll feel lost in moving toward improving your health or feeling better about yourself. While it can seem intimidating at first, as you begin to refocus your attention on your values, you can begin to identify intentions and actions that support you with moving towards living that reflects these values. Before we move on, let’s pause and clarify what I mean by intentions & actions:Intentions:
- Reflecting about what’s important to you
- your internal dialogue about yourself and the way you want to live
- how you decide to make meaning from your experiences
- thinking about your hopes, exploring and identifying thoughts and actions that will help you with valued living.
- Can be small or big
- Activities we engage in and the things that we do
- May be done in the moment, an activity we engage in sometimes, or something that we engage in regularly
- Actions don’t need to be exercise, they can be self-care, how we take care of ourselves and do for ourselves, and how we interact with others and the world around us
- Through intentional action we can live in ways that reflect our underlying values.
Ready to start exploring the intentions and actions you can engage in to help nourish your well-being? Check out the steps below to help get you started with exploring possibilities for actions and intentions that reflect the values most important to you!
Ready, Set, Intention & Action!
1. Take some time to reflect on the value that is important to you that has become tangled up with weight (Health, Self-Esteem, Confidence, etc.)
2. Once you identify the overarching value, you can identify smaller actions that you believe will be realistic and consistent with nourishing that value
*note make an attainment rather than avoidance goal. Eg. I will not drink as much coffee to..I will drink water when I feel thirsty or notice Im feeling tired in the afternoon.
3. Ask yourself-what steps can I take that support me with nourishing my (health/self-esteem/
4. Make your steps realistic-start small and celebrate your successes. Intentions, thoughts, and actions are all important.
5. What can you do now or in the next hour? What can you do today? What might be helpful to you tomorrow? This week?
6. Notice successes, positive intentions and accept challenges and recognize your own resilience. Accept that there will be challenges and recognize your successes as you learn what you find helpful at this time & place in your life.
Instead of numbers on a scale determining success or non-success, we step into the realm of possibilities where our actions and intentions can be opportunities to feel good about ourselves and nourish our well-being. We don’t have to achieve a certain weight in order to appreciate our value and nourish our well-being.
Photo Credits: firstname.lastname@example.org, Cartoon by: BenitaEpstein