Ep 16 – ‘But I Need to Lose Weight for My Health’ – The Common Misconceptions around Weight and Health

In this episode we look at some of the common misconceptions that people have when it comes to weight and health. Yes there are link between the two but there are so many other factors to consider.

If you have any further questions on this topic, please get in touch with me.

More here: BLOG: ‘But I Need to Lose Weight for My Health’ – The Common Misconceptions around Weight and Health, PODCAST: Ep 15 – 5 Steps to Overcome Emotional Eating.

Episode 16 Transcript

Hi, and welcome to the Food Freedom Podcast with me, Claire Feldman. I’m a CBT therapist, hypnotherapist, and eating disorder practitioner. And having recovered from my own history of disordered eating, I wanted to create a podcast where I could bring bite-size episodes to help you with tools, techniques, and strategies to overcome your own food, weight and body image issues.

Hi, and welcome to this week’s episode, which is called, but I Need to Lose Weight for My Health. So what’s this episode about? I wonder? So this is actually a topic of conversation that will come up quite a lot with my clients and certain clients. I think it can be quite a, it can be quite a challenging conversation. So let me just explain what I mean. So obviously I specialize in working with binge eating disorder and I will have clients who struggle with binge eating disorder, who are actually at all spectrums on weight. So people who are in much smaller bodies struggling with binge eating, people who are in, in quote, normal sized bodies and people who are in larger bodies. And the struggles will all be the same. The discomfort that they will feel in their body will be the same.

The loathing of body and body image issues will often be the same, but we cannot deny that there, there is not a distinct difference for people who are living in larger bodies because people who are living in larger bodies won’t receive praise for their physique. They won’t receive praise for the weight that they, you know, the healthy weight that they are maintaining. What they will often receive is stigma, and they will receive a lot of people making assumptions about what they eat and assumptions about their lifestyle and assumptions about their attitude towards things like food and fitness, which is completely and utterly wrong. But it’s a very difficult situation for people who are living in larger bodies to get to a place of maybe being more accepting of their size or incorporating maybe more of a health at every size non diet approach when everything in our society says that that is wrong.
So we do live in a society that glamorizes thinness. We live in a society that gives a real impression that thin is the ideal, and that thinness equates to health. Even we know, we know that that is not strictly true, that people can be healthy in all sizes of bodies. People can be unhealthy in small bodies, and people can be healthy in larger bodies and vice versa. But we hold this very, very strong rhetoric that we assume that anybody who’s in a larger body must be unhealthy. They must have health conditions, or if they don’t have health conditions right now, that they’re definitely gonna get them. And this is something that my clients will often fail and believe to be 100% true themselves. And so it can be quite difficult when, for my clients that all they have been experiencing is weight stigma. People making assumptions about them going into a GP surgery for something totally unrelated, a sore ear or something, and the GPS response always being some sort of connection around weight or the need to lose weight because obviously the doctors still work from the very, very outdated B M I model.

So this can lead to really complex and really challenging discussions and conversations and with my clients, because when my clients are in front of me and they fully understand that I don’t, weight loss isn’t a focus of my work. I don’t set weight loss goals. And, and that’s not a real target of the work that I do. The work that I do is about understanding the relationship with food and about addressing the binge eating, which may well be contributing to their weight, and they will totally understand that, but there will still be, but Claire, I still need to lose weight and often caveated with the, I need to lose weight for my health. I need to lose weight because my GP has told me I need to lose weight. I need to lose weight because maybe my joints are sore. Or for, for various different, different reasons.

And what I’ll often kind of ex, you know, ask is do you know that your weight is a direct correlation with whatever it is that you might be experiencing? And I’m saying this because I have had lots of cases and seen lots of cases where, for example, people have had gastric surgery, gastric sleeve surgery in the hope and the belief that by losing weight, that their joint pain would be alleviated or disappear only discover that that has not been the case. You know, that they have a condition like orth, arthritis, osteoarthritis, and actually that the weight loss doesn’t make any difference to that condition, and it was a condition they were gonna have regardless of the size that they are. So sometimes I think we can make the mistake of making a direct correlation between weight that we’re carrying on our body and certain ailments that we have, like sore knees, sore hips, things like that, that they are very much conditions that also we can experience when we’re in, in quote, a normal size body as well.

But again, that being said, I’m not sitting here and, and I’m sitting here as someone who is lucky enough to be in a fairly average size body that I couldn’t possibly sit here and say to someone in a larger body, well, you shouldn’t want to lose weight. Because like we know the futility of pursuing diets, we know the harm it can do. We know that often focusing on weight loss is likely to increase your weight even longer even higher. So it’s not for me to sit and say, well, you shouldn’t want to lose weight because of all these reasons that I’m listing, because I can’t possibly imagine how difficult it would be to be in a larger body and to experiencing perhaps a lot of the stigma and the shaming and all of the things that come with that. And I can also understand as a female, the desire to be smaller.

I totally get it because most of us spend all our lives desiring to be smaller. And so I would never, ever tell a client that they have to change their thinking or that they can’t desire weight loss or that they shouldn’t be pursuing weight loss. I guess my role is to question understand and maybe challenge some of the perceptions they may have about the correlation between weight and health, but ultimately to help them to focus on their health and improving their health and improving their wellbeing, but perhaps not just from a, a place that is focused solely around numbers on scales. And so if this is you, if you were someone that you are in a larger body and that you really do struggle with your weight, maybe you struggle with binge eating and you are holding this belief that I have to lose weight for my health and to improve my health, I really want you just, I suppose to consider like what is health?

Because what we assume incorrectly is that our health and our weight are directly connected. And although it does have some bearing, what we do know is that health encompasses so much more than just what we weigh. So there’s factors such as like our emotional wellbeing, our stress levels, like our stress massively impacts our health. The quality of sleep is so underrated when it comes to not only our physical health, our ability to cope with stress and also our weight. We know that for people who really struggle and have poor sleep consume about something like 500 calories extra a day, then those who sleep well. So things like poor sleep really affects your health and also who you have around you and the quality of relationships, like do you have loads of energy givers around you or are you surrounded by energy vampires?

Those things will really have an impact on your physical, your mental and your emotional wellbeing. So it’s really important to recognize that there are lots and lots of ways that you can improve your sense of health, improve your wellbeing, that don’t have to be directly focused on getting a number down on the skills. Now that being said, I have no way of knowing with anybody I work with, I have no way of knowing what their weight is going to do. So it may well be as a result of addressing the emotional, it may well be as a result of focusing on health promoting behaviours and, you know, wellbeing, overall wellbeing. Someone may lose weight, who knows, I don’t know. That may well be the outcome, but it’s never a guarantee. And so focusing on all of the ways in which we can actually improve our wellbeing, not being focused on weight is what I really encourage people to consider.

How can they do that? So shifting your focus to maybe more health promoting behaviours, what could that look like for you? So a couple of examples could be things like engaging in joyful movement. So if your mentality in the past has been, I only exercise to lose weight, or I absolutely despise exercise, or I can’t exercise because of my size, how can you find ways of moving your body that you genuinely enjoy? So I have clients that do little discos in their kitchen and love to put on music and dance or dance with their children. That’s movement. Or maybe for you, it’s swimming or maybe it’s just a little bit of yoga or even chair yoga or just a little walk around your local park. But finding a way of moving your body that actually makes you feel better. For me, walking, like walking is the most underrated exercise.

It completely changes my mental state, my emotional state and I really notice if I don’t get to do it, like I’ll be pretty ratty. So that for me is kind of, that’s my joyful movement. That’s my time to stick the EarPods in and go away and listen to a podcast or an audiobook. So what for you might be something that you genuinely enjoy, a way of moving your body that isn’t focused around. We there’s lots of new gyms that are popping up as well, which are great, that they aren’t focused on aesthetics. I’m a member of one of those gyms. There’s no mirrors in the place, it’s all female, very inclusive. And gyms like that I think are just fantastic that they’re popping up now. So maybe the gym isn’t for you, but if it is, maybe that’s something that you could explore and have a little look at as well.

Another thing is to prioritize your mental health. So your emotional wellbeing could be things like you know, is it actually seeking out support? Is it looking for a therapist, a counsellor, somebody that you can work alongside to help you manage maybe your emotions, to manage your stress? Is it joining a local support group? Is it maybe looking at local things that are going on in your community that you could get involved in that gives you a real sense of purpose in your life? One big thing that I’ll always work on with clients is about looking at their inner dialogue, looking at the stories you tell themselves, looking at the little critic they have in their head. I sometimes call this stinking thinking. And it’s basically that that little part inside them that is saying all these horrible things about themselves, about how they’re feeling, not good enough, useless, nobody would want to know me and, and all these terrible things.

And really getting them to add a massive dose of compassion into their thinking to challenge their thinking and to find, I guess more supportive, encouraging, compassionate ways of viewing things. And you know, when we prioritize something like our mental health, just how much all of these aspects of health do have an impact on each other. You know, when we prioritise our mental health, we’re more likely to engage in joyful movement to support our physical health. We’re more likely to pay attention to perhaps our diet and nourishing our bodies, that when we pay attention to one aspect, that it has a knock on effect in other areas as well. The next thing is focusing on nourishment. So when we are very weight focused, we tend to come from the restrictive mindset. We tend to come from the place of I can’t have, we tend to come from the place of all the things that we need to cut out of our diet that we’re not allowed.

Our brains do not like that our brains do not like rules. Our brains do not like to be told that they can’t have something because the more you’re told you can’t have something the little child in you just wants even more of it. So this is why when we focus on weight loss, we focus on restrictive dieting, it is always going to backfire. And for every single diet, there will always be a subsequent binge. So instead what I like to do is get my clients to focus on what do I need more of now, what might be lacking in my diet, what might there be good for me to have more of? So not focusing on one thing they need to stop, but what they want to have more of. And that might be more colour, that might be more protein, that might be more water, but really aiming more for getting variety, colour fibre and more balance in the diet.

The next one I’ve already mentioned prioritizing sleep. Honestly, we cannot get enough sleep. And this is something I remember reading a study that we now sleep on average, I think an hour less every night than what we did like maybe 30 years ago or so. And it is because of it’s that blooming Netflix, and all these things that we can binge-watch so easily and sit up half the night doing. Our lives are difficult, our lives are stressful and, and I listen, I love Netflix as much as the next person, but I love my sleep as well and I know how important it is for me to get a good night’s sleep. But a lack of sleep, it does have such an impact not only on kind of your mental, mental capacity the following day, but also the food choices you have.
And we know there’s a direct correlation between things like poor sleep and stress on the body, inflammation on the body. And we see this in research that’s been done around people, for example, who work night shifts that people who are, who are obviously regularly and, and consistently throwing their body clock out if it’s natural kind of rhythm, circadian rhythm because they’re working night shift that actually they’re at higher risk of inflammation and possibly chronic illness because of the impact of the inflammation in the body. So we know that per sleep does have a real significant impact, particularly if it’s chronic and particularly if it’s long term. So if you are someone who struggles to get to sleep, perhaps visiting the gp or if you recognize actually this is more, it’s a habitual thing for me just staying up late, maybe working on a little routine where you’re gradually kind of pulling back your bedtime and introducing a bit of a wind down routine.

And then finally, and arguably possibly one of the most important to manage your stress. So chronic stress can have a massive, massive impact. And for me personally, I think stress is an epidemic. Not so much the, the way it being the epidemic that actually stress is the epidemic. And our lives are very difficult. Our lives are very busy. I think for as women we don’t often appreciate just how much we take on board, how much we do, how much our roles within the home have changed massively as the decades have progressed. You know, that we are doing all the stuff in the home, all the stuff with the kids and doing careers. I was actually reading something randomly last night and I think it said like in the 1950s less than 40% of females worked. And they worked part-time. And I think now it’s something like over 75 to over 80% of women are now in employment.
So the whole landscape of our work, home life, everything has completely and utterly changed. And throwing in when we get to a certain age, perhaps caring for elderly parents as well. There is an awful lot going on in our lives and we need to learn how to manage that. And often, like I’ve said previously, if we are people pleasers, if we are doers, if we don’t like to complain, if we’re not so good at putting our own needs first, this is the kind of stuff that does actually impact our health, like seriously impact our health. So we have to learn to think about our own needs. We have to learn how to say no. We have to learn how to prioritize and set boundaries, which can be really hard to do, but is so important in protecting our wellbeing. And I suppose one little final thing which I I haven’t mentioned is all of those things like focusing on all of those health-promoting behaviours will have a massive impact on our overall physical, mental, emotional wellbeing.

But also if there are deeper psychological issues that might be going on that might be connected to your binge eating your struggles with food, then what I would recommend is definitely seeking out further support for that. I think all of those other measures I’ve just mentioned are incredibly important and can make a huge difference and can also reduce binge eating. But if there are maybe a lot of deeper issues going on connected to that and that they might be difficult to overcome or address on your own, then I would recommend reaching out and getting some support. Obviously, you can get in contact with myself, but you can also have a look at the National Center for Eating Disorders website where I was trained and they’ll have a list of fully trained appropriately qualified eating disorder therapists and you can find therapists in your area that might be also able to help you. Okay, so that is it for today’s episode. I hope you enjoyed. If you have any questions or any comments, don’t hesitate to contact me on my Instagram handle, which is ology uk or pop a little comment on the podcast episode below. Alright, take care for now. Bye.

So, guys, that’s it for today’s episode. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. And ’cause this is a new podcast, I would love to get your feedback on how you have found it and hear any suggestions you have either for improving the podcast or even topics that you would like to be discussed in the future. I really would love and appreciate to hear from you. So feel free to drop me a DM or send me an email. And also if you would like to find out more about my services and ways that you can work with me, check out my website, which is www.eatology.co.uk. Otherwise, that is it for now. Goodbye, and I hope you tune in again soon. Take care.

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