Dealing with the Obsession Over Weight

Q. Dear 40-somethings,

Did you ever obsess over weight? –  20-something

A. Unfortunately yes. It’s hard not to. But if you’re lucky, one day you realize the number on the scale is not really what is going to make you happy (if you are within a healthy range). It’s part of a much bigger whole. – 40-something

Making peace with your body and finding your ideal weight rather than trying to match the measurements of some model who is 5’11” and weighs 120 lbs (not normal!)  will make you happier on a daily basis. When that happens the elephant in the room takes a hike and you are much more free to be yourself.  What you think is a muffin top, thunder thighs, batwings or maybe a rear end that is not plump enough is really not what other people are seeing.  They are seeing you. It takes on much bigger proportion in your own eyes. Over and over again, people say the thing that is most attractive is confidence.

More often than not, there comes a realization that reaching this “perfect” weight in your head doesn’t itself make you any happier (any more than eating your way to an unhealthy weight solves anything). Nothing magical happened when the unrealistic weight goal is reached. Trust me. You will just be tired and cranky.

Here is what some 40-something women who are at peace with there body have to say and enjoy eating have to say:

Counterbalance is key:

“I’m sure there are very few women in the U.S. that have not obsessed over their weight at one point in life.  You must take into consideration your body type/height and general health. No one wants to hear it, but regular exercise and healthy eating will give you the best body you can have – period. It is essentially mathematical – burn more calories than you eat.  Yes, there are plenty of people who eat whatever they want, don’t exercise and are thin, but if that’s not you, then that is just not you!  Find a balance in your life. Eat real food. If you imbibe too much on one end make up for it on another. If you ate two chocolate Sundaes then go to kickboxing instead of yoga. Counter-balance your poor efforts. And exercise like it really means something. It’s empowering to be strong and fit. – 46, artist, mom, wife, vegetarian and kickboxer, Brooklyn, NY

Make adjustments but if you are expecting perfection, ask why:

“Most American, and French (yes they do certainly get fat), women obsess over weight their entire lives – or at least until they are 70.  Just as most men obsess over how much money they make.  I dealt with it in my twenties by making sure I fit into my clothes.  You don’t obsess so much if you weigh the right amount give or take a little.  If you are within your proper weight range and still obsessing, then you need to determine why.  Do you wish you had a different shape? Try pilates or something that can help you reshape yourself.  Do you want a different body type?  Fat chance (haha) of growing to supermodel proportions.  Do you want to be ‘perfect’?  good luck.   Here’s one thing for sure not to do … don’t deal with your obsessing by drinking a bottle of wine every evening” — 45, wife, mom, pilates and food living Francophile, married mom, Los Angeles, CA

Lighten up…it’s okay to indulge and when you do it becomes good not “bad”.

“When you deprive yourself of something because you think eating it will literally add that pound to the scale, sooner or later you’re going to binge on it and then feel bad about yourself. And when you feel bad about yourself, you eat poorly. The cycle starts. I try to just eat a little and enjoy it. I used to have a tendency to eat the whole pint of ice cream or if one cupcake was good, then two was better. But then …I’d feel sick.  So two things work for me. One, if I’m not around these foods, I don’t miss them. Out of sight out of stomach. Then when I do feel like an ice cream cone I can go get a cone and enjoy. Two…when I’m around food that triggers overindulgence I just remember that that particular food is not going anywhere. There will be ice cream tomorrow, next week, next year. Chocolate is not endangered. So have a bite, or two, enjoy and know that it is not your last bite.” –-40-something, former obsessor, New York, NY

Excerpted from a previous blog post / question from a twenty something.

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