I had to step on a scale for life insurance this week and it triggered crazy anxiety and numerous unpleasant emotions.
I haven’t looked at the scale in years. According to the BMI (which is a mathematical calculation never intended to be used for health purposes but that’s a whole other post), I have been overweight since I was 16 years old. Because I’ve suffered from chronic health issues my entire life, I know when I’m in a healthy place and I know when I’m in an unhealthy place. The scale has never been a reflection of that. But it can tell me when my body is on high alert or fighting to restore balance.
Yes, I am a health coach, but I don’t use the scale as a measure of health.
I dig deeper.
Because my endless hours of training are in integrative nutrition and functional medicine, I care more about what rapid weight gain or weight loss tells me about underlying imbalances.
Often times, weight is a protective mechanism. Body fat tissue is biologically active, producing hormones and immune-system proteins that act on other cells. There is a REASON for the inflammation. It’s how our body stores toxins and manages internal or external imbalances, not to mention physical and emotional stress.
Chronic stress (physical or emotional) drops your basal metabolic rate, shuts off detoxification, slows digestion and absorption of nutrients, decreases thermic efficiency, decreases microbial diversity, and alters mitochondrial function, among so much more.
We cannot talk about weight loss until we restore underlying imbalances and create a space for healing in the body.
While unintended excess weight gain or rapid weight loss may not be an indicator of how “disciplined” you are, it can definitely be an indicator of stress your body is under.
If you are struggling to lose or gain weight, and seeing sudden changes that alarm you, focus on creating a healing environment for your body.
This could look like changing up nutrition, but not always. For those overwhelmed by the stress of making nutritional changes, supplementation can be a great first step, in order to establish bowel regularity and optimize nutrient absorption.
There are other things you can do to set up an environment of healing:
Maybe it looks like getting better sleep, setting up a sleep routine, or prayer/meditation before bed.
Maybe moving your body through walking or yoga can be healing.
Maybe you just need trauma therapy. We store trauma and negative emotions in our cells. It can be toxic and impact so many internal processes.
It could look like swapping out your beauty, personal care, and cleaning products for non-toxic options. Your skin is a giant mouth. We consume so much toxicity through our skin, and it overburdens our liver, leading to further imbalances.
It could look like re-evaluating medications you are taking, and finding other solutions.
Maybe you just need to partner with your body, and team up for nourishment… instead of shaming and punishment.
And maybe you need to shut off social media or unfollow some people until all the stressful New Year dieting ads are gone. I will not be offended if I’m on that list. You know what’s best for you, and as much as I try to be sensitive to everyone’s needs, I can’t know each person’s trigger.
Your body is unique, and it is on your side. Your health journey will be unique as well.
And please remember, above all else, a number on the scale doesn’t give you value. It doesn’t make you any more or less lovable, valuable, worthy, or accepted.
I’m here for you if you need me.