With increasing media focus on how we look, and how to lose ‘weight’, remaining neutral about our bodies is a growing challenge. One thing I work hard to cultivate with my clients is a healthy mindset around reaching physical performance and aesthetic goals. I firmly believe there is a balance to be had, and to achieve goals one must take a multi-faceted approach; dealing with the various aspects of actual food consumption and energy expenditure plus a healthy mental narrative.
Taking a weight-neutral approach is not anti weight loss.
Weight loss may come as a result of healthier lifestyle habits so from a health perspective, weight is not the best barometer. It only gives one very basic piece of information rather than a complete picture… context and variables must always be considered. Factoring in hormonal fluctuations, water retention, sleep quality and inflammation mean that much of the scale number is actually beyond our control. So try to not waste energy worrying about it… It’s no secret that in the pursuit of aesthetic change, measurements and photos can be far more useful than the bathroom scale.
Where disordered eating needs to be considered, weighing oneself can be an emotional trigger, resurrecting old habits and obsessive thoughts - months of positive progress can be undone with one perilous step onto the scales. Weight may have been a defining factor of your previous identity and feelings of self worth, but the scale is not the boss of you! You are in control of your life, not a battery operated device on your bathroom floor! If you are obsessing over the scale, you may want to set a goal of not weighing yourself for 6-12 months… or throw the scale out altogether!
Being body neutral is not the same as being body positive.
You don’t have to feel happy every time you look in the mirror. Because that would be like assuming you could only live your happiest, best life if you constantly felt like you were loving the way you look, and let’s be honest, EVERYBODY has days when they don’t like what they see. You can still have a great day and live your best life when you’re feeling neutral (or even a little negative) about how you look. So remind yourself that the reflection in the mirror is not a reflection of who you are inside.
The way we look is merely surface, and only one facet of us. You are far more than your appearance. In much the same way that we cannot control the number on the scales, our body will shapeshift a million times throughout our lives. And that’s OK. We are designed to stretch and shrink, move and grow, according to our needs - it’s survival!
If you are recovering from disordered eating and gaining weight you may want to buy better fitting clothes, that make you feel less aware of your physical changes. Dress for comfort. When you eat, choose foods based on how you feel and what you want, rather than thinking about how those foods might manifest themselves in terms of your physical appearance! Honour your hunger, savour the flavours and textures, stop when you are satisfied.
5 Simple Steps To Change:
Change the conversation with yourself: Remind yourself that weight gain is not failure. Forgive yourself and always speak kindly, as you would to your best friend. Use neutral terms regarding your weight/reflection in the mirror.
Change the conversation with other people: Even well-intentioned compliments can be a double-edged sword so steer conversations away from aesthetics, and physically walk away from a situation if you need to.
Have a social media cull: Unfollow any accounts that don’t make you feel good. Unfollow people you are compelled to compare yourself to. Follow a variety of accounts that fill your mind with positivity, art, nature, books and anything else that sparks your curiosity.
Only use a mirror when necessary: Avoid constant mirror checking, and before you step in front of the mirror, remind yourself to be neutral about the reflection you see.
Do movements you enjoy: Never exercise from a place of punishment, or focus on how many calories it will burn. Choose exercise that you love and makes you feel good. Do not pin your worth on how well you perform a movement, always aim for progress, not perfection.
Being body neutral frees up emotional and mental energy for so much more productive and fulfilling things in life. Make space to enjoy hobbies, expand your interests, really spend time with loved ones - living in the moment and enjoying yourself to the full.
There is nothing wrong with having physical goals, the problems arise when we pin our self worth and emotional welfare to them. Your lovability and value do not depend on your body weight or reflection in the mirror.
Thanks for reading. If you have been affected with any of the issues discussed here and would like personalised help please contact me.