Erin P. (erinstotle) wrote in ed_ucate,
Erin P.

Accept Your Current Weight, Whatever it is

This piece is from the book "The Appetite Awareness Workbook" by Linda W. Craighead. The book is geared towards normal eating if you binge and overeat. There is a small section on anorexia and bulimia as well, but this is not the focus of the book.

The piece stresses that once you accept your current weight, you are less prone to say, emotional eating. There is a myth that accepting your current weight will lead to unmotivational acts, such as not exercising or eating an extra piece of cake. This is not true. This, in fact, means that you are most likely trying to motivate yourself by scaring yourself, and fear is not the best tool for motivation at all.

I thought this piece brought up a lot of good points. There was no way I couldn't share it with anyone.

The main reason people end up putting off their life until they reach their ideal weight is that they are overly concerned about the way they believe that other people are evaluating their weight. People also have magical beliefs that if they can just reach their goal weight, everything else will fall into place. Then they won’t have to work so hard to fix all the other things they don’t like about their life. A client once brought me a wonderful cartoon showing a young woman stepping on a scale. It said, “Please, please, please say 110 so I can meet Prince Charming and live happily ever after”. Sorry, it’s just not that easy.

Accepting your weight is clearly a challenge, especially if you are objectively overweight. However, the paradox is that the more you accept the weight you are, the easier it becomes to change it. When you are extremely distressed about your current weight, you are less successful in changing your weight because emotional eating is a big part of your problem. When you overvalue weight (whether or not you are normal weight or overweight), you are very vulnerable to the “what the heck” response anytime you break a rule or overeat.

Many women are afraid to give up their distress about their appearance. They believe this distress is the only reason they don’t weigh even more than they already do. They believe that if they accept their weight, they will reduce their motivation to lose weight. This is not accurate because fear-based motivation is notoriously ineffective. Fear is more likely to lead to avoidance than to constructive action. Feeling bad about your weight makes it really aversive for you to take a good look at your eating patterns, yet awareness of yourself is the most effective tool you have. When you tune out, you can’t learn how your body works or figure out what to do next time. Accepting your weight (for the time being) allows you to stay tuned in and learn from observing your responses to food. Hutchinson (1999) is a useful resource to encourage body acceptance.

What I really mean by accepting your weight is sticking to the facts. Accepting your weight does not mean you have to be happy with it, just that you recognize what it means and what it does not mean. You don’t have to be a Pollyanna, but you must not exaggerate whatever negative effect it has on your life. All your other problems are not due to your weight. Accepting your weight also means that you do not base your own sense of worth primarily on your weight. You consider weight in balance with all the other aspects of your life. You can still affirm that weight is an aspect that you want to change, but don’t exaggerate its importance to the point that you are too upset to make changes effectively.

The same principle applies to whether (or not) other people accept your weight. Do not assume everyone else is focused on your weight. Acknowledge that there may be some people with whom your weight is a liability. However, don’t exaggerate its importance to other people just because it is so important to you. Don’t refuse to recognize when people like you just the way you are. Give people a chance to get to know you. Don’t assume they are unwilling to love you as you are. Other people maybe pleased if you lose weight, but this is not the most effective reason to lose weight. Accepting your weight means you want to lose weight to please yourself, not to cater to anyone else’s needs or prejudices.

Craighead, Linda W. “The Appetite Awareness Workbook: How to listen to your body and overcome bingeing, overeating and obsession with food”. New Harbinger Publications (2006).

Pg. 183

*Note: I typed this up in five minutes without looking at my keyboard, so if you see any typos, let me know.

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