Whether you’re actually overweight or obese, or if you just think you’re fat, chances are, you’re preoccupied with your weight, just like the other 80% of American women. The messages we receive in the media certainly do not help. The “ideal” body presented on magazine covers and advertisements is not anywhere near an attainable reality for most women. The bodies we see in the media belong to women who make a living out of looking the way they do. Most of us don’t have the luxury of working out all day and hiring trainers to make us look that way. Yet, we take to heart the message that we need to lose weight (even if we don’t). So we go off to the gym and commit (yet again) to eating better.
For most people, a desire to eat more healthily and move more often is a good thing – a varied diet and an active lifestyle can prevent a host of chronic health conditions, thereby increasing not only longevity, but also quality of life.
For some people, however, the pursuit of health becomes an obsession, and the behaviours in which they engage become far from healthy, and sometimes even dangerous. Left unchecked, an unhealthy obsession with body weight can escalate into an eating disorder, which can sometimes become life-threatening. If you or someone you know is doing one or more of the ten things listed in this article, it may be time to re-evaluate priorities, and make a plan for gaining a new mindset.
10 You Weigh Yourself Every Day, Often Multiple Times A Day
Scales don’t tell the whole story, and therefore, the best use for them is to go on a trip to the garbage can. There are many factors that affect body weight, from how much water you’ve drank in a day, to how long ago you used the bathroom, to what time of the month it is. Scales don’t tell you your body fat percentage, your hip to waist ratio, or your blood lipid profile, all of which are important in gaining a full picture of your current health status.
If you are not an athlete for which weight matters (such as a boxer or wrestler) and you are weighing yourself every day, you may want to stop and ask yourself why you are doing so. Are you worried about gaining weight? If so, why?
If you are weighing yourself several times a day, it may be wise to get rid of the scale and go by how your clothes fit. If they fit well, tell yourself that you are comfortable and let the weight be, lest you start celebrating or mourning weight gain or losses that don’t actually mean a thing.
9 You Celebrate Losses Of 1 lb And Get Depressed When You Gain A Pound
You step onto the scale and realize you’ve lost a pound. You’re over the moon and can’t wait to tell your best friend. The next day, you get on the scale and realize you’ve gained a pound. You’re embarrassed, ashamed, and depressed, and start thinking of ways you can lose that pound again.
Obsessing over the gain or loss of one pound may be an indication that your preoccupation with weight has reached dangerous levels. It’s important to remember that a person’s weight can fluctuate up to 5 lbs in a single day, depending on a number of factors, including how well hydrated a person is and how long ago she used the bathroom. Losing or gaining 1 lb is of no consequence, unless one or the other is happening on a consistent basis week after week.
8 You Have A Long List Of Things You Can’t (Or Won’t) Eat
The list of items you can’t or won’t eat just keeps growing and growing. You convince yourself you’re sensitive or allergic to certain food items (despite never having been tested), and carefully scan every single nutrition label and restaurant menu to ensure you won’t eat forbidden foods. You start avoiding outings that involve eating out, because you can’t be sure there’ll be things you can eat there.
7 You Avoid Social Gatherings That Involve Restaurants
Your friends invite you to a night out on the town. Before you say yes, you need to know exactly where they are going. If the outing involves a restaurant, you need to know exactly what is served there, so you hit up the establishment’s website prior to saying yes to your friends. Once on the site, you realize that the restaurant doesn’t serve anything you feel is healthy enough to eat. So you make up an excuse as to why you can’t make it to the night out with your friends.
You are avoiding more and more restaurant outings, because you feel that you can’t control your weight as well if you eat out “all the time” – except you haven’t been to a restaurant in several months. If you’re withdrawing from social gatherings that involve food, your preoccupation with weight loss may have gone too far.
6 You Believe If You Lose Weight, You’ll Be Happy
You’re really unsatisfied with how much you weigh, and you feel a bit depressed and discouraged. It’s been a while since you felt really happy in a new outfit or in a bathing suit. You’re working hard at losing weight, and you just know once you reach that magic number on the scale, you’ll be happy.
Making your happiness dependant on a number is a surefire way to be unhappy. You’re ignoring all of your accomplishments and what you can do, and replacing that with what you look like. You are depending on visuals to get that feeling of accomplishment and happiness that can only last if you base it on something a bit more deep and meaningful than whether you fit the current media-approved body type. If you feel that you’ll be happy once you lose weight, it may be time to re-evaluate your priorities.
5 You Silently (And Sometimes Not-So-Silently) Judge People By Their Body Size
Each time you walk down the street, you’re scanning passersby and making a silent judgement on their body type, shape, or size. In your mind, you might be making comparisons: “I may be a bit overweight, but at least I’m not as heavy as her,” or, “I wish I was skinny like her.”
You make comments to yourself or others such as “she’s really big, but she’s a really nice lady,” or “I think she judges me because I’m not as thin as her.”
Obsessively judging other people’s weight is a reflection of your dissatisfaction with your own body, and it is an unhealthy habit (both the judging others and comparing yourself to them). It can affect your psychological well-being and contribute to more unhealthy habits down the road.
4 You Always Know Everything About The Latest Diet Trends – And You Try Them All
A great portion of your time is devoted to reading diet books, diet websites, and food trends sources. You take everything to heart, and you try all the diets recommended on the blogs and books you read.
Atkins, low carb, paleo, cabbage soup, grapefruit – name it, you’ve tried it. You could tell anyone anything about any diet plan, and you feel that you know a lot about nutrition, despite never having consulted with a dietitian. You also feel that dietitians have no idea what they are talking about, because they’re not up-to-date with emerging research.
Unfortunately, this attitude is far too common, and it’s harmful to your health. Crash dieting comes with a host of problems, and getting on the yo-yo dieting train can have serious consequences. If you are trying all the weight loss plans, losing weight, gaining weight, then losing weight again, it may be time to reconsider your body image, and make a commitment to loving your body. Consulting with a dietitian in order to make a plan for healthy eating will help, too.
3 Exercising Too Much
Yes, you can have too much of a good thing.
Exercising is extremely important to maintaining a healthy body; however, some people get so obsessed with exercising that all other aspects of their lives suffer.
If you’re not a fitness model, professional athlete or bodybuilder, and you’re exercising several times a day, every day, you may have a problem with an unhealthy attitude towards your body.
If you’re missing social events because you refuse to change your workout schedule, spending all your money on new exercise programs, and withdrawing from the rest of your life to devote all your time to exercise, you may want to slow things down a bit.
2 Having A View Of Your Body That’s Out Of Touch With Reality
An unhealthy obsession with body weight can eventually escalate into a full blown eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa, a mental health condition that causes people to have distorted body image – they believe they are fat, even as they get more and more emaciated.
If everyone you know compliments you on your looks but you feel fat, and therefore you are eating less and less, you may wish to speak to a psychologist or doctor who specializes in eating disorders. It can be hurtful to hear from a loved one that they think you have a problem; however, listening to them and getting help could literally save your life.
Anorexia Nervosa can lead to extreme malnourishment, which can cause severe complications and even death. Ironically, the pursuit for a thinner and thinner waistline, which some believe will lead to better health, can actually lead to severe heart problems, if that pursuit evolves into anorexia. Between 5 and 20% of anorexia sufferers will eventually die from heart complications caused by the disease.
1 You Feel Guilty After Indulging In Treat Foods
You just couldn’t resist that piece of pie or chocolate cake, and you enjoyed every bite. Immediately after, however, you feel extremely guilty, since you believe this digression will contribute to weight gain. You may feel so guilty that you feel the need to vomit afterwards. For some people, this guilt will evolve into bulimia nervosa, another dangerous mental health condition.
If you or someone you know feels the need to vomit or makes themselves vomit after indulging in certain foods or binge eating, seek help right away. The earlier an intervention happens, the higher the chances of successful therapy.