Blog : Your Weight Is Not the Problem
Updated: Feb 3
By : Elizabeth Ray MS RDN LD
Today’s article is going to be about weight. I usually keep my articles lighthearted, however I can’t stay quiet about this subject, especially with January looming. January is the typical time of year that Americans decide to change their diets, sign up for gym memberships and try to work off all the holiday eating.
The US weight loss industry is worth $72 billion at this time, and they are expected to grow in January 2021. Here’s my question, if we have a well-to-do weight loss industry, an industry that is supposed to help us with our weight, why are Americans at an all time high at feeling bad about their weight? Also why are the rates of disordered eating and eating disorders increasing among children, tweens, men, middle aged women, and baby boomers?
It seems like a $72 billion industry would have the resources to take better care of those whom they are selling too, right? Well, the reality is this : the more unhappy you are about your weight, the more they profit.
So here it is, the uncomfortable part, let’s talk about weight. Here’s my list of lies that we are fed about weight, and truths to debunk what we are told.
LIE : To be healthy, you have to lose weight.
TRUTH : Research tells us that in order to see the biggest health benefits, an overweight or obese person will need to lose 5-10% of his/her initial weight. So, if a person is 250 pounds, the biggest benefits for cholesterol, blood pressure, and other health parameters, will be seen with a 13 to 25 pound weight loss.
In addition, people who are of normal weight and underweight aren’t immune to the need for medications to keep blood pressure and other lab parameters within a good range; thus, this indicates they are not always metabolically healthy. Also, participation in unhealthy habits (ie. smoking, excessive exercise) are sometimes employed to maintain a ‘healthy’ weight.
LIE : To be happy, you have to lose weight.
TRUTH : Weight gain can occur in times of distress, however, it can also occur during happy times. For instance, sometimes a person gains weight because he/she has found someone to share life with, and as a result may be celebrating with more eating out, eating snacks while watching a movie, and enjoying more ice cream dates. Weight gain can also occur when a person retires, the birth of a baby, and when on a vacation; all of which are happy times!
On the other hand, weight loss can occur when sadness strikes, like the death of a loved one, divorce, illness, the loss of a job, and other tragedies. Besides, there are plenty of people who are of normal weight and underweight that report unhappiness, depression, and anxiety.
LIE : To be loved, you have to lose weight.
TRUTH : Let me start with this question, if you’ve gained weight does your pet love you less? No, of course not! Your pet loves you regardless of what the scale reads.
Now, let’s extend this question to those who love you or whom you love Does the love of your children or grandchildren depend on what the scale reads? Or do you love someone less because they have appeared to gain weight? No, of course not! Love sees beyond the scale. We love the person for they are, not because of his/her relationship to gravity.
The bottom line : Your weight isn’t the problem, but one part of a bigger story. Your talent, creativity, intelligence, productivity, compassion, bravery, and value are not dependent, nor can be measured by the scale; you are more than a number!
Working as a dietitian nutritionist, people on the weight loss quest seek me out. I welcome those on the quest, but to be honest, my mission is to help people feel good about food. Sometimes weight loss is associated with improving one’s relationship with food, but sometimes it’s not.
I’m currently coaching a group who is seeking to feel good about food, and I was asked what is my key to staying with my health-related goals. My response : “I’ve learned to enjoy the process. I used to be focused on the results (ie. weight) but that’s like saying ‘I’ll only play a team sport if we win every game.’ The winning/results don’t always come, so I’ve learned that the joy is in cooking, cleaning, exercising, self care, etc. It’s the process, and deep down I believe I’m worth the trouble to continue to the process.”
Dr. Kristen Neff, compassion expert, says making change “is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are.” Therefore your health, happiness, and worth aren’t dependent on what the scale reads. If you decide to make a change in the new year, do so out of place of believing you are worth it, because I believe you are!
Elizabeth Ray, MS RDN LD works as a registered dietitian nutritionist helping people improve their relationship with food and with themselves. Her Instagram handle is @wholefoodbeliever, and she can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/e3trition. Elizabeth has also has a blog at https://www.wholefoodbeliever.net.
For your information only. The statements on this website and/or in this article are opinions. Wholefoodbeliever does not provided medical or nutritional advise, treatment, or diagnosis.