Many of us are preoccupied with the scales and overly focused on weight loss. The trouble is, while we may lose weight with this mindset, a strong weight focus is linked with disordered eating, body issues, and weight regain over time. Taking the focus off the scales seems like a good idea, but a lot of us cling to them (for a variety of reasons!) and shifting the focus away from weight is often easier said than done. In this Thursday Therapy Glenn shows you how to stop paying lip service to taking the focus off the scales and actually do it!
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- Viewer question on taking the focus off the scales. [2:08]
- Why Glenn suggests tossing your scales. [3:12]
- Encouraging a The Biggest Loser contestants to throw out her scales. [3:51]
- Building motivation without the scales. [4:28]
- Setting fitness goals. [5:25]
- Setting mindset goals. [5:47]
- Setting medical goals. [6:18]
- Setting personal/life goals and why this is one of Glenn’s biggest recommendations. [6:43]
- Fundamentally shifting your perspective on the scales. [7:27]
- Parting thoughts on shifting your perspective away from the number on the scales. [9:41]
G’day everyone, welcome to Thursday Therapy. I’m Glenn Mackintosh, the weight psych, and today we’re answering a question that I think a lot of people think would be good for them, but also other people don’t want to do, and is definitely easier said than done, taking the focus off your weight.
Hey guys, welcome to Thursday Therapy. I hope you’re doing well, and thank you for supporting my Movember campaign. That’s been really generous of you. And we’ve just finished this year’s 12 month transformation, which means we’re gearing up for next year’s 12 month transformation. It’s really heartening to hear all of the feedback, it lets us know we’re really onto something special, and something that’s quite different. So, if you live locally, come and check us out for the 12 month transformation, or if you live anywhere in the world, let us support your transformation online. Every year the programme goes from strength to strength, and we’d really love to support you. So, we’ll provide all of the links there.
And also, it’s really fitting that today’s question from Louise is something that’s fundamental to the TMT. Louise asks, “You talk about a non-weight focused weight loss method. How do we shift our thinking away from a weight focused approach? I’ve been working through a programme for 2017, and it goes through an intuitive approach to eating, but I can’t shift my focus away from having to lose weight.”
This is an excellent question, Louise, because most of us know that it would kind of be good for us to be less hung up on the scales. But, how many of us actually do it? And you’re also right in your understanding that being too focused on the scales is a big barrier to becoming an intuitive eater, because when you’re making food choices, and you’re focusing on the effect that that food is going to have on your weight, it really undermines your ability to figure out what works for you, listen to your own body’s signals of hunger and fullness, and develop internal motivators to make good food choices.
So, let me give you a few ideas. The best thing you can do, and I know this is a big one, is to let go of the scales. You can’t really take the focus off the scales while you’re weighing yourself every week, or more often. Now, I know that for a lot of people, this is pretty anxiety provoking. But, if you still feel you need to check on the scales, you can check the next time you’re in your health professional’s office. They’ll have them. And the other thing is, it’s kind of like ripping off a bandaid, once it’s done, it’s done. I encourage my clients to do this all the time, and they never look back.
One of my favourite moments in supporting the Biggest Loser contestants was after a couple of conversations with Steph, her sending me a video of letting go of her scales. I absolutely loved this moment, because she was in the middle of a competition that was focused on weight loss, and she decided that her transformation and her mindset were more important than a number on the scales. Now, if she can do it then, and she’s totally kicking goals now, so can you.
You might be wondering how you’re going to motivate yourself without the scales to keep you accountable. And if you are, that is a really good question. Despite some of the problems with the scales, they are quite motivating for a lot of people. And our mind hates a vacuum. So, if we take that motivator out, we’re going to need to replace it with new motivators, otherwise the weight motivation is going to come creeping back in. So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to create some non-weight goals.
So, we do this in the first part of the 12 month transformation. We say if we’re going to be hollistic, like we say we are, we need to create some holistic goals. And we need to focus on them as much as we do the weight, at least. We call these whole person goals, and let me give you a few examples of what they can be.
Fitness is an awesome one. It could be a strength goal, a flexibility goal, an ability to walk or swim a certain distance. I had a great client goal recently where someone said I walk up this mountain with my family, and I’ve measured that I stopped 18 times. So, by this time next year, I want to just be able to walk up and down not stopping at all.
As a psychologist, I love setting mindset goals. The best way to do this is through our online psychological profile for weight management. It’s free, and I’ll give you the links here. But you can measure your whole mindset, your emotional eating, your body image, your exercise confidence, everything. And then you can chart your progress. It is a great way to make the seemingly intangible very real, and then you can measure that your mindset is actually progressing.
Another great thing to do is to team up with your medical health professional, and set some medical goals. Tell them what you’re doing, and that you’re trying to take the focus off the weight, and talk about what worries they have, whether it’s your mobility, or your pain, or your blood pressure, blood sugar. Whatever it is, and see if you can set a goal for focusing on that directly.
I’d really encourage you to set goals for anything that’s important to you. So, I’ve had clients set goals for travel, set goals to find new jobs. Even set goals to make more friends, because you want to acknowledge that your happiness and your wellbeing is more than just being physically healthy. Whatever goals you set, though, it’s really important to make sure that they’re measurable, so they’re just as real as the weight goal. And it’s also important that you focus on those goals as much, maybe even more, than the weight goal, if you even set one. Because this helps you acknowledge that your health, your success, your happiness are much more than just weighing less.
If you really do want to take the focus off your weight, you have to fundamentally shift your perspective. So, Louise asked about a non-weight focused weight loss approach. And I don’t think one exists. If your main aim is to lose weight, then you’re going to be focused on the scales no matter how you spin it to yourself. So, the key is to really make a fundamental shift, and see your transformation as a change in your habits, your lifestyle, your mindset, and your overall wellbeing.
It’s funny, because our main programme, the 12 month transformation, I don’t consider a weight loss programme. It’s quite interesting, because this year, we did some research on the 12 month transformation, and we measured people before and after. And what we found was that their mindsets just improved out of site. So, emotional eating went down, intuitive eating went up. Dieting mindset went down, exercise confidence went up. People became more accepting of their bodies, and I remember thinking this is fantastic. This is doing what we think it’s been doing.
And then someone asked us, “So, what happened to people’s weight?” And we kind of realised, ah, we’ve collected that data, but we haven’t even analysed it. So, we went back to analyse it, and people had lost a bit of weight, which was great. But it was definitely more of an afterthought, and more of a cherry on top, rather than the fundamental goal of the programme.
So, that’s what I’d encourage you to do. To over time, and it does take time, be patient with yourself and do what I call zooming out from the scales. Or, the other way I think about it is like making weight a smaller piece of the puzzle. You know, for a lot of people it is a bit unrealistic to think that you could just forget about any weight concerns completely, but if you get further along the road and you make little shifts, you will get to a better place over time.
So, thanks for listening to my ideas, and I’d really encourage you to give one a go. Often these worries get stuck kind of swirling around our minds, and while the answers aren’t always easy, they’re often simpler than you think. So, give it a go. And if you do want some more structured support to transform your eating, your movement, your body image, and your overall wellbeing, you have to check out the 12 month transformation. It really is something special, and we do what a lot of programmes say they’ll do, and offer you fundamental shifts in the way that you think, feel, and act.
So, thanks for being with me for another Thursday Therapy. If you liked this, let us know. If you’ve got a comment, share with us. And of course, if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe. And I’ll see you for the last Thursday Therapy of the year in a couple of weeks.