New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Watch Your Weight

Laurie and Debbie say:

At this time of year, we are bombarded with mainstream media lists of New Year’s resolutions, and it’s almost impossible to find one that doesn’t include weight loss. Here’s what we hate about that:

Making good changes is often impossible if your focus is weight loss.

Here’s Ragen Chastain from Dances with Fat:

“Join the gym, become more active, get healthier!” There are no guarantees but this is ok advice if someone has access to and can afford a gym, if going to the gym sounds like something they want to do, and if they are interested in movement as a path to health.  “Join the gym, become more active, and then you lose weight”.   Horrible advice no matter what the circumstances-  there is no evidence to support that people will lose weight long term, in fact, there is a lot of evidence that increased activity increases health but does not lead to weight loss.  Sadly, since many gyms choose to grossly overstate what the evidence shows they can achieve, when people don’t lose weight, or when they lose it short term and then plateau and start gaining it back, they quit going to the gym (or whatever activity they picked to make them healthier) because they think it’s not “working” because they’ve been wrongly convinced by the gym that if they aren’t thinner then they aren’t healthier.

Humans are (as a group) goal-oriented. We like to know where we’re going; we like to see progress; we like to move forward. If the goal is “become more active, get healthier,” then that can work. Maybe we can walk further without getting tired, climb more stairs, lift heavier weights. Maybe something hurts less, or stops hurting. Maybe anxiety decreases and brain weasels shut up. Or maybe we are just more cheerful and enjoy life more.

But since weight loss for any length of time is not achievable for most people, it works against making the changes that have a fine chance of making our bodies feel well in one way or another.

The other thing we hate about dieting for weight loss is that it discourages us from listening to our bodies, from noticing changes, from appreciating success. It reduces everything to numbers. If you’ve ever said, or heard someone say, “I need to lose 7-1/2 pounds,” when you know perfectly well that your weight changes more than half a pound in the course of the day, then this is obvious. But it’s equally true if the number in your head is 40 pounds, or 150. Obsession with numbers gets in the way of seeing/feeling what’s actually changing.

So don’t watch your weight. Smash the scale. Listen to your body, and do what feels good.