Weight and Self-Esteem: A Vicious Cycle
“When you step on the scale, you are not measuring your weight; you are measuring your self-esteem.” This was a powerful statement from Gary Weiler, an Eating Behaviorist and expert in food addiction.
Gary spoke at one of the free seminars held at the Sensible Fitness Personal Training Center in Cincinnati, and much of this article is from his incredible presentation.
As you keep an eye on your weight, don’t weigh yourself all the time! Gary recommends weighing yourself once per week and then looking at it in multiple week blocks. Your weight can fluctuate a great deal within a 24-hour period, and just like the stock market, if you watch the ups and downs every few hours or every few days, you will freak out and panic.
Weighing yourself often generates a great deal of anxiety for people, in addition to a few prayers as you lightly place the first foot on the scale. For many, the scale is measuring self-esteem, because if you are down a few pounds you feel great about yourself, and if you are up a pound or two, you feel bad about yourself. In this case, the scale is in control of you, rather than you being in control of the scale.
Of course many step on the scale because they “feel fat”. But fat is not a feeling. How can you feel good on Thursday, but “feel fat” on Friday? Did you gain 25 pounds overnight? “Feeling fat” can be a cover-up for saying “I feel inadequate”, “I feel insecure”, “I feel ashamed”, “I feel guilty”, “I feel uncomfortable with myself”, or “I feel like I have no self-esteem”. And instead of people dealing with these powerful emotions, they chose to deal with “feeling fat”, and throw themselves on a diet, because that is easier.
But Gary says a diet does not fix anything. In fact, it often makes things worse and starts a vicious cycle. Here is the cycle: You have weight and shape concerns, so you go on a diet. You can’t stick to a diet, and similar to trying to hold your breath, you lose control and take in a big gasp (a feeding frenzy), which then causes you to beat yourself up with negative feelings, resulting in low self-esteem. Then you have traveled full-circle, but this time have even more weight and shape concerns, as you probably gained all your weight back plus a few bonus pounds.
“If a diet fixed the problem, the problem would have been resolved years ago. The issue is not what food does TO you, but rather what food does FOR you”. Food is not the enemy; the enemy is that big round thing balancing on top of your neck. Are you eating because your stomach is hungry, or is it a response to an emotion or situation? If you fix your weight, will you fix your self-esteem? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on if your weight is the symptom, or the cause.
We hope your focus for weight loss is motivated by your health and not the scale. We at the Sensible Fitness Personal Training Center, in Cincinnati, would love to help you.