Do you have a magic number in your mind of exactly how much you should weigh? Do you imagine that when you reach this magic number, life will be amazing, your dreams will come true, people will love you, and you’ll live happily ever after? So many people put a lot of power into “how much should I weigh?” And that unquestioned faith in a “made up” number can often drive us to follow all kinds of intense diet and exercise programs that can leave us unhappy and unfulfilled. It’s time to re-examine how much we think we should weigh. In this informative and engaging video from IPEtv, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, shares some great insights that can take your relationship with food and weight to a whole new place.
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Below is a transcript of this week’s video:
Hi, I’m Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
Today’s topic is one that I believe is extremely important.
It’s all about how much you should weigh.
It’s all about that magic number.
After being in the business of nutrition and eating psychology for well over 30 years, one thing I’ve noticed is that a significant amount of people are super clear about what their magic number is when it comes to exactly how much they’re supposed to weigh.
For sure, there are plenty of people out there who have a range of where they want their weight to fall – but I’m still surprised at how many people have a very specific number in terms of how much exact weight they are supposed to lose. This magic number is one that they MUST reach at all costs, as it will allow the heavens to be in alignment and the stars and planets to be on their rightful trajectory in the universe.
What I’m saying is that we often put a heck of a lot of power into the magic weight number that we are convinced were supposed to reach. Have you heard people say “I need to lose 50 pounds, I just need to lose 5 pounds from right over here, I need to lose 25 pounds by such and such a date, I need to get down to 135 pounds, I need to return to what I used to weigh seven years ago – which was about 122 pounds – because that’s where I feel most comfortable and my body feels best and I feel most happy.”
So here’s the punch line:
We don’t know how much anyone is supposed to weigh.
This is true from a perspective of science, from a perspective of psychology, and from the sum total of everything that we know about the human body.
I’m not simply offering an opinion here. I am stating a scientific fact.
There is zero hard science out there, nor has anyone even pretended to know exactly how much you should weigh based on scientific principles. Yes, I know, there are tables and charts that are created by insurance companies that claim to tell you where your weight should fall. Their charts are based on fuzzy scientific guesswork that ultimately benefits their bottom line. When it comes to an exact number – there’s no such thing.
So why am I harping on this?
Because way too many people are giving away way too much of their power to a number that they’ve invented that has no basis in scientific fact or reality.
People pick numbers that are essentially arbitrary.
Sure, we have every right to pick a number and say here’s what I want to weigh, and then go do our best to lose that weight. You have free will, and that’s totally up to you, and it’s fine.
Just don’t take it so seriously.
Just don’t believe that it’s a factual reality that if you don’t attain this magic number, then you’ll be miserable forever.
We get emotionally attached to certain weights.
We literally get hooked on a number that often drives us to do punishing behaviors, over-exercising, intense restrictive dieting, or a constant inner dialogue of self attack, self judgment and self abuse.
It’s easy for the mind to get attached to something that we give a religious value to – that we believe in so deeply that it can end up driving us bonkers.
I’ve met people who are convinced they need to lose all different numbers of weight, who had been trying for years and even decades to lose that weight with all kinds of strategies and diets, and they can’t get there in a sustainable way. There are people who are literally trying to just lose 1 pound. There’s a huge subset of people who want to lose 5 pounds – and those five pounders are generally focused on their belly. There is another subset of people who want to lose 10 pounds, and another subset who wants to lose 15. Again, such people are so super clear and super convinced of the correctness of their numeric assessment and they will spout that number to you and proclaim its correctness as if it’s a universal fact.
Says what scientific study?
Says what irrefutable medical testing?
Says what timeless wisdom?
Of course, what follows is a constant drama that we play out with dieting, exercise, getting on the scale, and when the number goes down on the scale we smile and we love ourselves, and when the number goes up on the scale we hate ourselves.
We give our power away, and foolishly so.
If this is you, or your client, then question this in a big way.
Look in the mirror and ask yourself why so much power and energy is being given to a number. Ask yourself, “Is this really true? Do I really need to lose this exact amount of weight?”
And by the way, no matter what you think, the truest answer is – the number we choose is simply a choice. And it’s often based on unreality. It’s often based on something that’s not likely or doable. It’s often born from perfectionism, and from the false promise that I will be happy, lovable, and the real me as soon as I hit this magic number.
On a deeper level, we need to grow up.
The truth is, you can be happy and lovable and be the real you at any weight.
And please, if you’re thinking “Well hey, what about somebody who weighs 400 pounds, or someone whose weight is affecting their health?” So of course, we can always pick extremes. Obviously, those who are extreme anorexics need to gain weight. Those who are morbidly obese need to lose it. But in truth, what they need has to do with a lot more than just losing a bunch of body fat. Such a challenge runs deeper. And for the person who is truly obese and dramatically overweight, there’s a lot more going on than just the issue called “I need to lose weight.”
Dig a little deeper. Look at yourself with honesty. Embrace the spirit of this conversation. Weight is always a moving target.
Chances are, you’ve gone through many different incarnations in this life in terms of how much you’ve weighed. Our weight fluctuates with age, with our level of physical activity, with how much we work and sit at a desk, with our lifestyle, with different life stages, with where we live and who we live with, with our emotional challenges, with health challenges, and so much more. Change is a constant.
Can we be humble enough to embrace where we are at?
Can you be gentle enough with yourself and honestly question if you’ve given away too much power to a number that you’ve made up in your head?
Are you willing to reevaluate?
Are you willing to notice the places where you create self-chosen stress and anxiety?
What would it be like if you let go of your magic weight loss number for a couple of months and simply lived your life as if this was the body that you’re going to have for a long time to come? This is a simple experiment. It’s a chance for you to relax, and love what is for a little bit. It’s a chance to take a deep breath, and let the wisdom of life gently inform you.
I hope this was helpful, and I hope that you, your loved ones and your clients can begin to find the sweet spot when it comes to your relationship with weight, numbers and your body.
This is just a touch of what we teach here at the Institute in our internationally acclaimed trainings and programs.
I hope this was helpful, my friends.
To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video training series at ipe.tips. You’ll learn about the cutting-edge principles of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition that have helped millions forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health. Lastly, we want to make sure you’re aware of our two premier offerings. Our Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training is an 8 month distance learning program that you can take from anywhere in the world to launch a new career or to augment an already existing health practice. And Transform Your Relationship with Food is our 8 week online program for anyone looking to take a big leap forward with food and body.