What is the one underlying concern or focus of one with an eating disorder or disordered eating? You got it: weight. Generally most desire to lose weight. Why? The underlying reasons vary from person to person. I’ve heard: “It’s just not fair to be larger when everyone else is smaller than me.”; “I want to be able to move better when I do yoga.”; “I want to feel less pain in my body.”; “I’m embarrassed the way my body looks.” “I’ve been teased about my size.”; “I can’t stand my stomach and my legs.” ; “I feel like others judge me because of my body size.”; “If I look like people I see on instagram, I’ll be more accepted.”……..I could keep writing more and more reasons. The reasons are endless. Any of these resonate with you?
Let’s talk about weight. And the best way to talk about weight is to talk about height. I know, sounds weird but “read” me out. I’m just going to say it straight and simple.
Let me say this one more time:
Ooh, used some trickery there. Did you see the words change a bit? Make sense?
If you notice I’m using a very specific word: control. You can manipulate your weight just like you can manipulate your height. You can manipulate your weight by going on a diet just like can manipulate your height by wearing a pair of heels (or taller tennis shoes for example. I was in Colorado the other day and saw snow boots that had wedges in them that increase one’s height by 4 inches! That didn’t feel very safe to wear those when hiking for some reason! Anyway I digress….).
Did you know weight and height are genetically predetermined? YES, of course, environment and nutrition can play a role as well. Read on…..
Back to Colorado.
I was visiting a museum in Colorado Springs. The museum had a lot of amazing history of the town and its beginnings. The most exciting part was the Pikes Peak races and history. Anyway, within the museum were old carriages (horse and buggy type). As you are reading the description they talk about how many people the carriages hold. Most said generally 8 people. My oldest son was with me (he’s a basketball player and for those that know me, I’m very much a basketball mom). My son is 6’6, by the way. I’m looking at him, looking at my husband and thinking of myself, “self, how in the WORLD did 8 people fit into this thing?” So I googled “what is the average height of a man in the 1800s?” Guess what they said: yep, 5’6, a little taller than the average height of a woman now. They attributed the height changes to better nutrition and health care. So within 150 years, our average height is so much different! And no, just because I’m a dietitian doesn’t mean my child was better nourished. Height is absolutely in my genetics. My sister’s oldest daughter who is 22 is 6’1! My youngest son who is 17 will probably be only 5’9 (He got my husband’s genes) I “seem” tall sometimes because I’ll wear 4 inch heels. But as I’ve gotten older, I tend to stick with flats. Yet, I do have much height in my genetic lineage!
So you can imagine that our average weight is more than people averaged as well from the 1800s. 1) We have pretty convenient amenities such as grocery stores that have over 600,000 items to choose from than perhaps then. Most worked on a farm, had a much more limited food selection. 2) I can also imagine they were very active and engaged in much more manual labor. I don’t know about you, but I sit on my tush for 8-10 hours a day 3) As people learned more about nutrition and eating, those people that were able to eat better, lived longer, which will impact our genes and expressions so our bodies change over time.
So why the need to be “thinner?” Well our society tells us that those that are thinner are “better,” “more worthy of love and belonging,” “are not lazy,” “are healthier,” “are more attractive.” This article isn’t about body image, but interestingly enough, if you look at standard beauty images those have evolved over time as well (think of Marilyn Monroe vs “Twiggy”). These develop into core beliefs which when managed through diet and exercise can lead to the development of an eating disorder.
Our bodies have changed more significantly over the past few decades sparking the concern of “why” this is happening. This often can be due to environment and our food supply versus gene expression. So what to do, then? You might be thinking, “I’ve been on “WW” and have lost a ton of weight. I’ve been on Quick Weight Loss and have lost a ton of weight. I’ve been on ________ and lost _________ pounds? Why can’t we “control” our weight? I’ve lost weight before!?
Our body is an amazing machine. Meant to keep you alive. It will do ANYTHING it can to prevent starvation. The thing is, your body does not know that when you diet, you are just trying to innocently lose a little bit of weight. It takes the reduction in calories SERIOUSLY. It may feel like an overaction, but it’s a strong protection for your wellbeing. Your body is kinda in LOVE with you. Like serious “let’s get married for a lifetime” kind of love! Or like a puppy that greets you each day you get back from work like they haven’t seen you in ages, kind of infatuation.
Your body + You = True Love Always
So, although many diets out there help you lose weight, there is not one that has been proven effective long term. Isn’t the goal NOT to regain weight? This isn’t due to lack of willpower on your part or a failing. It’s all because your body loves and cares about you. When you stop restricting or over exercising your body will regain weight back and usually plus some additional weight for protection of your health during the “next famine” you encounter. Those nasty little famines! Generally most with normalized eating patterns and movement will move towards their natural set point weight. You often see this beautifully played out on a child’s growth records who has maintained a generally healthy relationship with food and movement. Weight and height is pretty predictable as you watch genes play out. And by the way there are a lot of different sized people and body sized people that’s why the growth records have such large ranges and variances.
Why the title of this article? If you have ever watched a basketball game, it is fast paced and demands certain foot wear to play the game effectively: basketball shoes. It also requires skill and knowledge to play the game. Going on a diet is like forcing your body to play a basketball game in 4 inch heels (like stilettos!) without a lick of training. Sure, makes sense. Need some height, right? To be respected and “play well’. Who cares about intuition and knowledge of the “game.”
Thinking of going on a diet? Think about playing basketball in Christian Louboutin, shiny, red-lacquered soled shoes (yeah, they are like $1000!). Because not only will you tear these shoes up within a few minutes of play time, you have then wasted all of this money and you will probably be damaging your feet, maybe even permanently. You manipulated your height, at what cost?
The diet industry is a multi billion dollar money pit. Don’t get sucked in. Need help with a better relationship with food? Need further support with understanding your weight? Feeling frustrated? Gives us a call. We are here to support you and help you navigate just the right pair of shoes to play your game and a little coaching to boot!