I was curious where my focus on weight and the focus for so many women, started from. As I was sitting with my child in the doctors office for her annual check up, it hit me. Our focus on weight systematically starts at birth and continues through the teenage years. Whether you have kids, or were a kid yourself, you remember the yearly weigh-ins. You’d get undressed and step on the scale as the nurse scrutinizes the number. Then the doctor would come in and tell you what percentile you, or your child is in; instantly instilling a culture based on weight and comparison.
When my son, Ethan, was born, the nurse tried to take him from me minutes after he was born because “he needed to be weighed.” I told her it could wait and it could. That 1st weight, taken 1 hour after his birth, then became his totality. Doctors appointments for the 1st year were centered around his birth weight. Was my baby staying in his percentile? Weight became the focus of his medical health. When Ethan was about a month old, the pediatrician we were seeing told me that he was underweight and needed to be given formula (which was not something I had wanted to do). I looked at her and I asked - "Why?" She didn’t look at my child, or me, she looked at her chart. She looked at numbers on a screen and spoke to those numbers. When I pushed her further, asked her to look beyond the numbers, she didn’t have a response. My son was thriving. His neck and muscles were strong, he showed no signs of dehydration or malnourishment and his eye contact was spot on. Needless to say we didn’t see that pediatrician again, but this stuff happens everyday to people, some who don’t know to ask questions. My 2nd child, Zoe, was also “underweight.” This time, our new pediatrician looked at my daughter and looked at me and wasn’t concerned. When you see people and not numbers, it tells a different storyline.
Fast forward 2 years. Ethan was 2 years old and at the doctor's office for his yearly checkup. The nurse asked him to remove his clothes so that they could weigh him. Ethan immediately threw a fit, refusing to remove his clothes. Who could blame him? Taking off your clothes in front of a stranger in a cold office is nobody's dream, so imagine how it feels to a 2 year old. There was screaming and crying and all my poor son wanted was to keep his clothes on, a seemingly reasonable request. I struggled with him and eventually got him to take off his shoes and either pants or shirt (I can’t remember which) and told the nurse that that was all we were going to do. After that appointment, I felt ashamed as a mother. I should have said NO. Why was an exact weight for my 2 year old necessary? Why was ANY weight necessary at all? Have you ever asked yourself this? Have we truly lost our ability to see people? If my child is undergoing an unusual weight loss or gain, which could indicate something more serious going on, are we really that unable to see it with our eyes?
It’s time to change the way we view health and weight and start recognizing individual body types. Maybe if I wasn’t told since I was 4 years old that I was in the 100% for weight, my image of myself and what I was supposed to look like would have been different growing up. Now, of course the annual doctors visits aren't the only reason women become weight obsessed. There's media, peer pressure and family influences that all come into play. That being said, we can not keep looking at numbers and expecting them to tell a human story. As I previously wrote about, I spent decades of my life dieting. I don’t want that for you and I don’t want that for my children. Weight is a number and it shouldn't become a mindset. So what can you do? Take away your scale. Stop weighing yourself. Follow my steps to start transforming your relationship with food. Pick up a book on Intuitive Eating.
If you need more support, I urge your to join my Free Monthly Virtual Healing Group; or contact me to learn more about my 1:1 or group coaching.