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Let’s talk weight. Let’s talk happy weight. Let’s talk ideal weight. Let’s talk everything in between. Because, as a dietitian, I’ve got a lot of thoughts about weight.
(A phrase I hear almost every time I see a new client for weight loss.)
Nope. I don’t own a scale in my office, and I rarely, rarely weigh clients.
Yup, that’s right. No scale.
Honestly, I really don’t care what they weigh.
OK sure, I care if they are obese or morbidly obese but chances are, if their weight is that high, they already know. They don’t need me weighing them to tell them that they need to lose weight. They can get that at the doctor’s office.
In other words, the scale doesn’t tell me anything I don’t know. It just tells me a number. It doesn’t tell me what my clients ate that day, how they are feeling, confidence level… Nope, just a number. Throw out the scale.
Instead, when they ask me “Aren’t you going to weigh me?” or “What should I weigh?”, I respond with something like this:
Most of us have a happy weight. That weight where you’re comfortable in your clothes, you don’t hate your closet every time you get dressed, you’re happy when you head to the gym, and you don’t deny yourself the occasional brownie, croissant, or piping hot bowl of mac-and-cheese. You’re, you know, happy.
Which may or may not be your ideal body weight. Your ideal weight is what you will most often get when you ask a medical professional that wonderful question, “how much should I weigh?” Instead, I’d like you to try to think about your happy weight.
It may or may not be a number. More than likely, it’s a feeling.
For me, at 5’4″, my “ideal body weight” is 120. 120! I’m not 120.
Sure, I could be 120. If I took out dessert, red wine with girlfriends, rest days, and avocado on my sandwiches. I could be 120 if I spent 2 hours a day at the gym and kept my calories to 1400. I could do it, sure. But I won’t.
I’m not happy at 120. I’ve been 120 and…. well, I was miserable. Not only was I miserable, but I’m pretty sure I made everyone else around me miserable, too.
BL wanted a date night? Not if I didn’t get to the gym earlier in the day. Girlfriends want to meet for happy hour drinks? Unless they were serving steamed kale and tea, I can’t go.
Somewhere after college it clicked. In order to be happy, I couldn’t be my ideal weight. An ideal weight that I should point out was not chosen by me, but by a textbook.
Instead, I asked myself, where am I most happy? While the only time I really know my true weight is at the doctor’s office once a year, I know that my happy weight is somewhere closer to 130. That’s my happy weight, my happy space.
Girlfriends want happy hour? Of course! I’d rather sacrifice my 6-pack ab ambition for quality time with my best friends. BL wants a date night? Of course! I’ll balance my nutrient-dense entree with wine and split dessert. When I start to feel a little out of balance, no big deal. I add a few more miles, change up my meals, and I start to get back to where I like to be.
I encourage my clients, especially my weight loss clients, to aim for their happy weight over their ideal weight. Not only is it a more achievable goal, it will also make the process of weight loss enjoyable and not seem like such a punishment.
I’ve talked about this before, but when weight loss becomes a punishment, you start to resent it. And when you start to resent it, you give up. Blaming yourself and starting and stopping the process many times over.
Make this time different. When you start to look towards your goal weight, focus on the happy rather than the ideal.
What about you? Have you ever thought about your happy weight? How do you find the balance between happy weight and healthy weight? I’d love to know!
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