More to life than a number

I am a big advocate of learning to eat what your body needs and letting go of willpower.  I just came across an awesome TED talk today about how dieting and willpower doesn’t help you lose weight.  Instead, we need to listen to our bodies.  (Yes, I know I post a lot from TED–I love TED.)

This talk by Sandra Aamodt shows how those who obsess about willpower and dieting are worse off than those who learn to listen to their bodies.  She also shows that obese people with healthy habits have similar mortality rates to thin people with healthy habits.  The habits she talks about are:

  1. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables
  2. Exercising 3 times a week
  3. Not smoking
  4. Drinking in Moderation

I do 1, 3, and 4.  I walk to work 2 times a week.  I guess I should figure out how to work in another day of exercise.

I think that beyond the science of dieting, the most significant thing she said was that many people diet, and when they fail, they blame it on themselves.  They think that it is come kind of deficiency of character that led them to be overweight, but they keep trying over and over again.  As Aamodt says in the talk, “If diets worked, we’d all be thin already.”  I’ve been done with dieting for a long time.  I have been done with focusing on something that wasn’t working. There is so much more to life that a number on a scale.

The hardest thing about being overweight is that is the first thing people notice when they meet me.  They think that there is a story behind my size.  The media has encouraged this by showing a crying obese person on every daytime or reality show.  This idea that there is some story behind every overweight person has entered even the medical arena.  The last time I went to the doctor, she weighed me, and she was convinced that there had to be something wrong with me. She kept asking me if I binged– if I sat and ate junk all day. She was looking for a confession that wasn’t there.  I almost felt like making up a good story to make her feel better.

That is what society wants from overweight people–a confession.  They want overweight people to show that a deficiency of character is what brought us to our weight.  I watch how the Biggest Loser makes their contestants sit and eat sloppy food so the viewers can ogle.  I would never go on that show.  I am not going to make what I see is a false confession for ratings.  I am not going to let the audience feel better at the expense of my own pride.

Speaking of pride, I was annoyed at my doctor’s insistence that I must be an obsessive eater.  She had a bunch of blood tests ordered.  When she had them processed, she called back and was shocked that there wasn’t anything medically wrong with me (yet–she said).  I think it is because I have always done what I was supposed to do, but I still couldn’t control my weight.

Don’t get me wrong, I could still lose weight for other reasons.  My feet get tired after walking on concrete all day. (I teach at a college campus.)  I could use more energy.  Still, I am thankful that I am doing okay internally.  But, my weight is not because I was abused as a child or have huge self-worth issues.

My weight is not a sign of weakness.  It is a sign of disconnection with my body.  I am trying to connect, but not let it rule me and my life. I am more than just a number on a scale.

One Comment on “More to life than a number

  1. There are so many biases when it comes to weight loss. Even the professional’s opinions are clouded. Top that off with shows like Biggest Loser (I will not watch it) and you get cultural bias. 😦 We are all more than the digits at our feet in the morning! Love this post!

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