“You’re not going to weigh me?” That’s the phrase I hear almost every time I see a new client for weight loss. Nope — I don’t even have a scale in my office, and I rarely, rarely weigh clients. For a dietitian who works with weight loss, this often induces a wave of shock with my new clients.
Why don’t I own a scale? Honestly, I really don’t care what they weigh. OK sure, I care if my clients are obese or morbidly obese but chances are, if their weight is that high, they don’t need me weighing them to tell them that they need to lose weight. They can get that at the doctor’s office. More often than not, if a client is seeing me for weight loss, they know what they weigh — it seems counterproductive to weigh them again in my office.
In other words, the scale doesn’t tell me anything I don’t know. It only gives me a number. It doesn’t tell me what my clients ate that day, their fitness level, how they are feeling or their confidence level … it’s just a number. That’s why I’ve thrown out my scale. Instead, when they ask me, “Aren’t you going to weigh me?” or “What should I weigh?” I respond instead with, “What do you want to weigh?”
When clients can honestly answer what they want to weigh, we can then begin the conversation of happy weight. Most of us have a happy weight. The weight where you’re comfortable in your clothes, you don’t hate your closet every time you get dressed, you’re happy when you head to the gym, and you don’t deny yourself the occasional brownie, croissant or piping hot bowl of mac-and-cheese. You’re, you know, happy.
The tricky thing about happy weight is that it may or may not be your ideal body weight. Your ideal weight is what you will most often get when you ask a medical professional how much you should weigh. Instead, I’d like you to try to think about your happy weight. It may or may not be a number. More than likely, it’s a feeling.
Instead of asking yourself how much you should weigh, ask yourself where you are most happy. For example, for me, at 5’4”, my “ideal body weight” is 120. 120! I’m not 120. Sure, I could be 120. If I took out dessert, red wine with girlfriends, rest days and extra avocado on my sandwiches. I could be 120 if I spent two hours a day at the gym and kept my calories to 1,400. I could do it, sure. But I won’t because I know I’m not my happiest at 120. I spent most of my 20s fighting to stay at 120 and … well, I was miserable. Not only was I miserable, but I’m pretty sure I made everyone else around me miserable, too. Constantly concerned about calories and workouts, instead of focusing on enjoying my time with family and friends.
Once I started working with clients on weight loss, it clicked. In order to be happy, I couldn’t be my ideal weight. An ideal weight that I should point out was not chosen by me, but by a textbook. The same is true for most of my clients. Instead of focusing our goal weight on an abstract number, I like to focus on what weight feels good to them.
I encourage all my clients, especially my weight loss clients, to aim for their happy weight over their ideal weight. Not only is it a more achievable goal, it will also make the process of weight loss enjoyable and not seem like such a punishment.
If you’re looking to lose weight, make this time different. When you start to look toward your goal weight, focus on where you feel the happiest.