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What's Your "Ideal" Weight?

Person on scale

What’s your “ideal” weight? …I have no idea.

But, I can hear you now, “but I DO have an ideal weight. When I used to weigh _____ (fill in your number, when I was 22, last year, before the baby, according to BMI calculations, etc.), that’s when I felt my best.” - says most of my clients.

Let’s talk about some truths when it comes to weight and health before we get into the 9 tips to reach your “ideal” weight:

The scale can make us crazy.

It can shift our mindset in an instant.

One moment you’re having a great day, the next you’re not…just because of a number on the scale. Let’s take our power back!

And those scale fluctuations?
They’re normal and are influenced by a bunch of factors, such as water.

Water can create daily or hourly changes in body weight depending on factors such as:

  • how much water you’ve consumed and what we’ve eaten throughout the day (such as salty foods and carbohydrates)
  • the kind of workouts we’re doing (think loss of water during a hot yoga class vs. retaining water after an intense resistance training workout when the bodies natural response to microscopic tears in the muscle tissue creates fluid retention.
  • whether you just urinated or had a bowel movement (or not)

Did you know that just two cups of water can add an extra pound of water weight? So the solution is absolutely not to drink less water as dehydration can cause the body to retain fluids in order to maintain the proper level of electrolytes. Dehydration also slows down your metabolism.

So no, you didn’t really gain/lose five pounds of actual body weight in one day.

“It [is] physiologically impossible to gain or lose three to five pounds of fat overnight, no matter what the scale says,” says Kelly Hogan, MS, RD, CDN

So let’s move on from the scale.

So what else affects your body’s physiology?

Your individual stress level.

Stress can come from a multitude of sources:

List of stressors

Are you under the relaxation response or the stress response?

Remember that under the stress response, your body will hold onto it’s resources as a protection mechanism. Under the relaxation response your body functions optimally.

Stress reduces your digestive fire because digesting your breakfast is not a priority when your body thinks it’s under attack because you’re worried about your TO-DO List. Your brain doesn’t differentiate between real or perceived threats (aka your thoughts).

We tend to focus on “what to eat/not eat” for optimal health and digestion but consider how stress affects your food choices, cravings and ability to digest food.

So instead of being hard on yourself for unwanted food behaviors, be aware of what’s driving these unwanted behaviors.

Then have some self-compassion.

There’s no such thing as perfect eating. Sometimes life can feel overwhelming and can derail us - and guess what, it’s ok. And actually it’s more than ok, because challenging life stuff (death of loved one, a divorce etc, job stress, etc,) is certainly priority over…what you weigh. If you feel like you’re stuck here, reach out. It’s ok to ask for help.

A few more factors:

  • medications
  • hormonal shifts (menstrual cycles, menopause)
  • alcohol intake
  • illness

So let’s move on from the scale as an accurate measure of your health.

As Summer Innanen, founder of Fearless Rebelle Radio podcast says “Smash your scale and start living your life apologetically.” You can find her awesome body image podcast on iTunes.

And what about BMI (Body Mass Index)? Is it an accurate measure of your health?

I love sharing this fun fact and Body Mass Index from Jennifer Rollin, Eating Disorder Therapist:

”…in the 1990’s a bunch of Americans went to bed and woke up “overweight.” Their body size hadn’t changed-however against recommendations from The World Health Organization, an “obesity task force” (which was funded by the makers of a weight-loss drug) decided to lower the BMI. The reality is that BMI really tells you nothing about someone’s health or behaviors.”

So instead of focusing on weight or BMI, shift to practicing these healthy behaviors instead:

9 strategies to achieve your new “ideal” body weight

  1. Honor your hunger and fullness.
  2. Don’t lean on food as your main coping mechanism. We are all emotional eaters. So no, emotional eating isn’t “bad” but notice if it’s your only strategy and let’s find you some new ones.
  3. Eat in a relaxed and conscious manner and find the experience of eating enjoyable. Prioritize meal time as a nourishing experience. “Nourishment is the nutrients in the food, the taste, the aroma, the ambiance in the room, the conversation at the table, and the love and inspiration in the cooking and the joy of the entire eating experience.” - Institute for the Psychology of Eating
  4. Be in touch with your body’s internal cues of what foods energize you verses deplete you. Take the time to explore. Nutrition isn’t one size fits all.
  5. Move your body because you enjoy it not because you “should.” Movement looks different for every BODY.
  6. Honor that more muscular bodies naturally weigh more than less muscular bodies. “We may have an “attachment to an ideal body weight—despite powerful evidence that our bodies may be stronger, fitter, faster, and healthier at a different weight” says Dr. Kara Mohr, of Girls Gone Strong.
  7. Honor the importance of basic nutritional knowledge such as how to eat to balance your blood sugar (which stabilizes mood, cravings and energy), strengthen your digestion and more.
  8. Honor your genetics. Body diversity is part of the human experience. We’re not all meant to look a certain way and health doesn’t come in a certain body size, shape or weight. Our bodies are meant to change throughout our lives.
  9. Prioritize stress management and be aware of “who you are bringing to the plate” because this impacts how your body metabolizes life and food (are you bringing stress or relaxation to the table with you)? It matters.

So let’s review.

What’s your current “ideal” body size?

Your “ideal” body size is whatever size your body is when you are nourishing your whole self - mentally, physically and emotionally - when you are nourishing it without restriction and participating in movement without obligation and engaging in the life you most desire.

(And no, it may not be what you weighed when you were 22, 2 years ago, 2 months ago, pre-baby, or when you restricted your food and over-exercised to achieve it.)

And most importantly,

You aren’t what you weigh.

You are more than a body.

Your self worth should never be equated to your size or shape.

Your health status shouldn’t be assumed based on your size or shape.

Have a comment, question? I would love to hear from you,

  • Tanya

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Body Image Intuitive Eating Weight Health at Every Size