Choose Another Measure of Success

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One of my clients is struggling at the gym. She isn’t struggling to go to the gym. She isn’t struggling to complete her workouts. What she is struggling with are the trainers at the gym.

They are insisting that she be weighed and measured, despite her protests!

She doesn’t want to be measured and weighed. She knows this will just increase the noise of the eating disorder voice and may even cause a binge and/or purge. She has been diligently attempting to stand up for herself and say no. They won’t listen.

I feel her pain!

I wish she didn’t have to fight with them. I wish they would just listen to her.

Yet I suspect they don’t because they are caught up in believing that their measurements of success are the only ones. They probably believe to the depth of their bones that weighing and measuring is the only way to know if your workout is successful, if your goals of health are being reached, if they are doing their job. They probably believe their measurements of success are helping their clients.

Unfortunately, they aren’t.

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Not only do so many of their members probably have body image challenges (because it is just too common in our culture not to) but they are exasperating the beliefs that how you look is a measurement of your health. When this is the case, how you look starts to determine how you feel about yourself. It leads to body image challenges and eating disorder behaviors.

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Yet how you look is not a measure of your health. Take for instance the client that walks into the gym after a full day of eating only 500 calories. Sure, she might lose weight or measure less (at least temporarily) but she isn’t healthier because of this practice. And that is just one example…

You might feel similarly as these trainers. You might be measuring your own success based on the number on the scale or the measurement of your waist. If so, you are contributing to the negative, critical voice that keeps your eating disorder behaviors going.

If you truly want to be healthy and decrease the critical voice, focusing on your body’s weight and measurement won’t get you there.

Instead, focus on how you feel. Listen to your body and your body will communicate its health with you.

For example, do you feel more energy from your chosen activity (notice I did not call it “exercise”)? Do you feel more endurance as you carry those groceries up the stairs? Do you feel greater strength when you pick up those boxes at work? Do you fell less stress and tension in your neck and shoulders? Do you sleep better at night? Do you have a greater quality of life?

Those are true measurements of success and health.

However, if your focus is on weight or measurement, then the simple act of weighing or measuring yourself can change how you feel about yourself in an instant…despite any other evidence you have.

This is an example of how that happened for me: I went to the doctor one day. This was long before I stopped weighing myself or being weighed. I walked into the office feeling pretty good about myself. It was a good day. Until…I got on that scale! Suddenly, I felt fat and gross and terrible about myself! I felt ugly and unlovable. A good day was ruined and hate for myself turned my day into criticism and self-judgement that lasted for days. If only I hadn’t gotten on that scale.

Now that my weight is no longer a measurement of my success or health for that matter, I can be free to pay attention to what really matters.

This week, pay attention to your measures of health. If you focus on weight and measurements, try shifting your focus to communicating with your body. Check your energy levels, your endurance, your stress, your sleep, your quality of life. Appreciate yourself for all your successes and your failures (those are the ones that you really learn from anyway.)

If you are also being weighed or measured at the gym or by your doctor or anyone else, tell them no. It is your body and you decide what happens to it! If they still don’t listen to you, tell them to give me a call.

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