My Overweight Mindset – And How I’m Changing It
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. We have an overweight mindset. Meaning, we focus so much on being overweight, that I can’t help but wonder if it’s making us fat.
When I think back to all of the “heavy” weight dialogue and phrases I heard growing up, I realize it’s no wonder that my weight and body shape are constantly at the forefront of my thoughts. I’ve been programmed since childhood, inundated with never-ending remarks and commentary from my female role models.
The Overweight Mindset Messages I Heard Growing Up:
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)
The Overweight Mindset Things They Told Me Growing Up:
You just need to lose 15 pounds. It would make so much difference for you.
You would be so pretty if you would just lose some weight.
You could wear that style, but you need to lose some weight first.
That’s not very flattering for your body shape.
You shouldn’t eat that.
That doesn’t flatter your build.
The Overweight Mindset Messages I Heard That Made Me Compare Myself to Others:
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.
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. 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 that mindset.
Conversations With Granny:
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 my 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 now dementia is taking hold. 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.
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 in the midst of dementia, when she can’t remember what she did five minutes earlier, she’s still talking about weight. Those must be some deep-seated feelings.
Overweight Mindset – It Begins With Awareness
I know that I must stop this belief pattern for good. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life feeling like I’m not complete or enough 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.
Sometimes, the 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 thinking ran my grandma’s life. Just like it ran my great-grandmother’s life. Just like it runs my mom’s and it runs mine. And it makes me wonder; is this fixation on our weight what is making us fat? Like a self-fulfilling prophecy? Maybe our mindset about weight-loss has been the issue.
The statements written on my grandma’s note cards are very much the same as thoughts I’ve had myself. Hell, I’ve written my own “weight” affirmations. But maybe we are staying stuck because we are focusing on the 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 my daughter. I can’t let this belief-system pass on to her.
I Can Start to Change the Unhealthy Messages if I Can 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 Can Start to Change the Unhealthy Messages if I Can Start:
Speaking positively about my appearance.
Accepting how I am in this 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. Progress and improvement should be an ongoing journey.
And that journey begins with changing my overweight mindset to a healthier mindset.
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