NOTE: This post was originally published on my previous blog, Body Image Rehab.
Does your weight affect your mood? Mine definitely does… As I’ve mentioned before, I rarely step on the scale and there is a good reason for this. Nothing has the power to deflate my spirit and ruin my day as much as seeing a number on the scale that I view as unacceptable. I wish this wasn’t true, but the sad reality is that I allow a three-digit number to dictate my moods.
“Weight Mood Shift”
Unfortunately, however, my not weighing myself doesn’t mean that I escape what I term as “weight mood shift.” There are other measures of my weight besides the empirical data provided by the scale. There is the way I feel… Do I feel light and energetic, or do I feel heavy, bloated, and tired?
The way my clothes fit also provides me with fairly reliable data on how I am doing weight-wise. If I slip on a pair of pants and find myself unable to effortlessly zip or button them, or if they feel uncomfortably snug in the hips and thigh area, that’s a clue that I have put on some unwanted pounds. While it’s true that the weight might just be water retention instead of actual fat, the end result is the same – I feel unhappy.
There are many people who either vow to “rock” the tight pants or shrug their shoulders and change into a more comfortable outfit while not allowing their slight weight gain to affect their mood or self-esteem. These people may simultaneously commit to eat smaller portions and increase their exercise time. I make similar commitments, but I also throw a heaping dose of self-deprecation on my psyche. I berate myself for “being fat” and lacking self-control. My mood turns sour and dour and I am thrown into an emotional tailspin.
Too Much Focus on Weight & Appearance
This happened to me just a few days ago… I am not proud of this, so I am writing about it in the hope of increasing self-awareness and reaching some useful insights on how to avoid “weight mood shift” moving forward. I do not wish to continue to allow one minor facet of who I am to dictate my complete emotional experience. After all, I am so much more than a number on a scale or a size tag on a pair of jeans. Plus, we’re not talking about a weight gain of 10 or 20 pounds here; it’s more like two or three pounds. It’s not exactly a crisis of epic proportions! It’s more like a speed bump on my life journey and should be treated as such.
Ever since my teenage years, I have placed far too high importance on my weight and appearance. Of course, it’s important for my health that I maintain a healthy weight, and most people want to look good. But when these concerns migrate to the realm of obsession, there is something else going on… When one focuses so predominantly on one aspect of their life experience, it usually means that they are trying to avoid something. What we think is “the problem” rarely is the real problem.
“WWLHS?” (What Would Louise Hay Say?)
I turn now to the teachings of Louise Hay, the writer and spiritual teacher whose philosophies are the basis for the life journey I write about on my other blog, The Healing Project. Louise Hay explains that no matter what a person’s problem seems to be, the true problem is rooted in a lack of self-love. The only thing she ever works on with her clients is learning to love and accept themselves. She considers love to be the “miracle cure.”
In regards to those with weight issues, there are often issues with fear and a need for protection, as well as a tendency to blame all of one’s problems on being overweight. Louise Hay refuses to focus on the excess weight or diets when working with her clients. The only diet Louise believes in is a diet from negative thoughts. She insists that when we begin to love and approve of ourselves, our excess weight miraculously disappears from our bodies.
My Problem is Negativity, Not Weight…
So, how does this apply to me and my “weight mood shifts”? My problem at those times is not that I have gained weight, if that is even the case. My problem is the negativity that I express toward myself when I believe that I have gained weight. I believe that there is something wrong with me and that I am flawed in some meaningful way, so I treat myself with disdain instead of kindness.
I waste a tremendous amount of time and energy negating my body and myself, and I allow one small data point to dictate my complete life experience. If I saw someone else doing this, I would immediately notice the absurdity of it all. Writing about my own tendencies now is helping me to realize what my negativity is costing me in terms of inner peace and joy.
Choosing Love and Kindness
Instead of berating myself for my “disgusting fat,” how could I instead treat myself with love? Here are some ideas:
- Realize that the bloating or excess weight is minor and temporary!
- If pants are tight on me, change into something that I feel is attractive and more comfortable.
- Vow to drink lots of water, eat lightly, exercise that day, and get a good night’s sleep that night.
- Set a plan for my day for both productivity and enjoyment (in things unrelated to weight and food).
- Think of at least three qualities that I appreciate about my appearance.
- Think of at least three characteristics I appreciate about myself as a person.
- Repeat constructive affirmations throughout the day, such as “I approve of myself” and “I love and accept myself exactly as I am.”
- Ask myself, “In what ways do I feel fearful or insecure and what can I do about these things?”
- Focus on activities and concerns outside of myself, such as creative pursuits or helping others.
- Refrain from all self-criticism, either aloud or internally. Repeat “cancel, cancel” and state a positive affirmation when I find myself being critical.
I’m sure there are many other ways in which I can be more kind to myself when I experience “weight mood shifts.” In time, my hope is that I will be able to simply notice weight changes, make a plan for how to address them, and move on with my day with a light and peaceful spirit. I will know that I am not my weight, and my weight is not the be all, end all of my life. When that day comes, I will be well on my way to true body image rehab.