Why worrying about weight doesn't work (& what to do instead)Sep 02, 2022
I’ve been there: worrying about weight. About my weight (I gained 7 lbs in 1 month, and I was worried), about my kids’ weight (was there something going on? Where is this trend going? Why is the gain? How can I get them to move more?)
I think about the times that I may have triggered that worry: in the medical office, reviewing kids’ growth curves with parents and talking about weight and BMI.
Did I ever say, “Now is the time to worry?” Geez, I sure hope not. But I know that others have heard it from their doctors.
But here's the thing: Worrying doesn’t work. In fact, worrying hurts us.
What is worry?
It’s a state of being anxious or uncertain about actual or potential problems.
The issue with worry: it doesn’t get us anywhere helpful.
What does worry do?
It tends to lead us into question spirals. What if? Why me? How come?
And if we don’t answer the questions, or ask better ones, the questions just keep going. We spiral in worry.
Some folks will call worry an indulgent emotion – as if it is thick, rich and decadent (was I the only one who thought of an amazing dessert with the word indulgent?).
Indulgent here means that we stay stuck in the emotion. We just stay in a cycle of worry.
Because we think that it’s important to worry.
That worrying will help us, highlight the problem. Instead, it makes it so we fester in it.
The other thing that we do is we tend to try to fix our way out of it.
It gets the doom-and-gloom part of our brain up and active.You know the part that is just looking for danger all around, wanting to pull back and crawl into the cave, but inexplicably lashing out at times.
"I'll be damned, we're gonna control the shit outta this and FIX it!"
Maybe that was my Momzilla.
But when I’m worried…
About my son’s driving, I think about all the possible things that could happen, and what I need to warn him about along the way.
— it’s a total mojo-killer for him trying to learn how to actually enjoy driving.
When I’m worried about my family member’s health…
I think of all the things that they are doing “wrong,” how everything is unhealthy.
— and I don’t see the steps that they are taking, let alone realize that I’m not in control of everyone’s health, MD or not!
When COVID first hit, I was super-worried. I was tracking the numbers on the Johns Hopkins site, looking to see how close the “wave” of COVID infections was coming to my home. Understandably, I was afraid and trying to protect my family.
Toilet paper and hand sanitizer, CHECK!
So what’s the alternative to worry?
First know that it's normal to worry, the issue is that it doesn't move us closer to where we actually want to be. So instead, I offer 4 alternatives:
1) Knowing what I am in control of
- Worrying about things that I can’t control is quite honestly a waste of time. I can worry all day long but it’s just energy going towards a spiral of questions, what-if’s, and not towards action.
- Figuring out what IS within my control, and doing something about THAT.
- 2) There’s a BIG myth out there about how much control we have in our weight, let alone how much control we have in.our.children’s.weight.
- Weight is at the very end of a long line of factors… genetics, metabolism, demands, how much you eat, what you eat, when you eat, medication effects, environment….
- 3) The biggest thing within my control: Deciding my focus.
Now I know this will be a big issue for those who struggle with attention – but I’m actually talking about focus as in what it is that we choose to place our focus upon. We may still have distractions - and yet, there is a practice in what we want to focus our energy upon.
My focus has been upon looking for PROGRESS. What is moving in the right direction? What do I want to see more of?
Because what we focus upon grows.
- 4) Taking small steps forward
- Do anything, Experiment, Try
- It doesn’t have to be the right answer
- You will never know unless you try
- So often we worry about what’s the best way to do something: the best diet, the best movement plan, the best school choice – and then we are frozen with not knowing which to choose.
- “What if I do it wrong?”
- Well, what if you do amazing?
- Or you learn and want to reconsider, ahem, choose differently in the future.
And that’s a big thing: we are living and growing, and LEARNING. All of us - kids and parents. We can model for the kids how they don’t have to have the right answer. Heck, I’m always trying to figure it out. And I will sometimes get it wrong.
Hey!!! Family in Focus is opening for group coaching this month. We're hosting a webinar series that starts Weds Sept 7, 2022 at 8pm EDT. Come to one, come to all - you will get valuable information that will help you and your family NOW. Register here.
Check out the Family in Focus with Wendy Schofer, MD Podcast!
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