A Lifetime of Weight Loss Obsession and 7 Things to Stop Doing Now
Inside: A family history of weight loss obsession leads to a constant battle against negative body image.–
Weight has always been an ongoing issue for the women in my family. Actually, it’s been more than an issue. It’s been an obsession; a very unhealthy one.
When I think back to all of the “heavy” weight dialogue and phrases I heard growing up, I realize it’s no wonder I am also obsessed with my body weight and struggle with a negative body image.
Growing up, all of my family role models had negative body images as well. Every single female role model in my family has modeled an obsession with weight loss.
I’ve been programmed since birth, inundated with never-ending remarks and commentary from the women in my life.
Weight loss obsession – Remarks about themselves:
I HAVE to lose weight.
I’m so fat.
I’m starting a new diet.
I can’t eat that.
We’re just built this way.
I wish I were skinny.
We’re big people.
We have more meat on our bones.
I can’t eat anything without gaining weight.
I want to be slim.
I’m going try to lose weight by xxx date/event.
My metabolism is so slow.
Nothing fits me.
When I lose this weight…..(I’ll be happy, successful, prettier, acceptable, etc)
Weight loss obsession – Remarks about me:
You just need to lose 20 pounds. It would make so much difference in your appearance.
You would be so pretty if you would just lose some weight.
You need to lose a few pounds before you wear that.
That’s not a very flattering style for your body shape.
You shouldn’t eat that.
Weight loss obsession – Remarks about other people:
I bet she eats anything she wants.
She’s so slim/slender/skinny.
She’s so beautiful, she never gains an ounce.
I want to look like her.
An Unhealthy Obsession With Weight
These are the type of words I heard, day in and day out, from my mom, aunt, grandmother, even my great-grandmother.
It’s taken a lot of awareness and awakening for me to begin to realize that I am not my body. I am not a number on a scale. I am not a clothing size. Slowly but surely, I am working to overcome this unhealthy obsession with weight and size.
It’s not easy to accept, though. When you have defined yourself (and others) by these types of numbers your entire life, it takes a tremendous amount of work to break out of a fat mindset or turn a negative body image around.
Conversations with my Grandma about Weight Loss
Some of the most vivid memories of conversations with my grandma revolve around weight.
There was constant talk about her weight, my weight, what we should be eating, how clothes fit, and such. For most of her life, she was 5′ 1″ and weighed 185.
Now, at 92, she barely weighs 88 pounds. She’s been through two hip surgeries, a number of health issues, and dementia.
We have to beg her to eat. I understand that the main reasons she’s not eating are her illness and age.
But I also believe that deep down a part of her is still stuck in her weight-obsessed mindset and negative body image.
A few weeks ago, we were begging her to eat during lunch but she was being very difficult. She would shake her head and push the food away.
We got her to take a few bites, but then she was done. I tried one more time, lifting a fork of potatoes to her mouth.
She pursed her lips, shook her head in disgust and stated emphatically “I don’t want to gain weight!”
I was floored. “Granny! You weigh less than 100 pounds. You have to eat!” She stared at me defiantly, refusing.
I gave me pause. Even in the midst of dementia, when she can’t remember what she did five minutes earlier, she’s still talking about her weight. She’s still hyper-focused and fearful of gaining weight.
I had a sudden realization that I must stop this belief pattern for good. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life obsessing about how much I weigh or what size I’m wearing. I’m tired of feeling like I’m not worthy because I’m a size 14 and not a 4, and I damn sure don’t want my daughter feeling that way, either.
It seems like I’ve tried every diet possible. I’ve done challenges, cleanses and various programs. I am fixated on the numbers on the scale and on my clothing tags.
The awareness, of my weight, what I’m wearing, how I look, is always there. Always. It feels like a prison cell. I have never known a time when I wasn’t haunted by the numbers…even during times when I was at my ideal weight.
Our Obsession With Weight Feels Like a Family Curse
Recently, I came across a stack of note cards on which my grandma had written affirmations. They are from years ago. This one particularly struck me:
“I want to lose enough weight that I can be within my comfort zone when I am with others. I am a very happy and slender woman and in tune with fashion. It would be so wonderful not to feel fat.”
It broke my heart, and it confirmed what I have been wondering; that this obsession with weight ran my grandma’s life. Much like it ran my great-grandmother’s life. Like it runs my mom’s and it runs mine.
I have had those same thoughts and feelings. Hell, I’ve written my own “weight” affirmations. But maybe we are staying stuck because we are focusing on weight rather than being healthy.
I’ve heard it said that you bring about what you think about, and I believe your thoughts create your reality. Changing thought-patterns is hard. I know, because I’ve tried and I’m still working on it. But ultimately, I have the power to change and I must make it happen. Not only for me but also for my daughter. I can’t let this belief-system pass on to her.
I know it’s a challenging process, but here is how I”m starting:
I Will Stop:
Saying I’m fat.
Talking about a diet.
Showing anger and frustration when I look in the mirror.
Crying if something doesn’t fit.
Eating when I’m not hungry.
Numbing myself with food or alcohol.
Referring to working out as “have to.”
I Will Start:
Speaking positively about my appearance.
Accepting how I am in the moment.
Speak about healthy foods (instead of diet foods.)
Wear what makes me happy.
Speak kindly to myself and about myself.
Realize I “get to” do activities and exercise I enjoy.
I know that I can’t change 40 years of critical programming in a few days. But I can continue making these changes now so I don’t spend the rest of my years feeling like I’m not enough because I’m not a certain number on the scale.
I choose to live in joy and self-acceptance. I choose progress and improvement as a journey and not a destination.
I deserve better. My daughter deserves better. This behavior stops with me.