A couple of months ago I was on the cover of YOU magazine. The reason? I wrote a personal story about my lifelong struggles with body confidence, being an emotional overeater and the resulting issues for me with my weight. There was a massive response to the article: I’ve lost count of the number of women (and some men) who messaged me saying how every word resonated with them and I’d described their life too. (If you missed it, you can find it here) The response was so overwhelming that I decided I would regularly dedicate some space to cataloguing my continued journey.
So I’ve been trying to take more active steps to create change. I decided to start with shifting my eating habits and my emotional attachment to food. What I discovered in the process was just how many nasty tricks my mind has been playing on me, making me feel almost too daunted to start to alter things and thereby keeping me in a holding pattern that makes me miserable. Allow me to rewind a little and explain.
After witnessing a friend use the WW (formerly Weight Watchers) app and have phenomenal success in transforming her relationship with food, I thought I’d try a similar route. I have always shied away from such things in the past, convinced I should be able to manage by myself and resisting becoming a meal logger and calorie counter. But seeing her so happy I realised that it’s OK to ask for help, to lean on a support system, and to simply make myself more accountable for the food I consume. Although I love solitude, the truth is that I emotionally eat when I’m alone, not when I’m in company, so I’m aware I need assistance in this area.
I chose the mindful eating app Noom, seduced by the ads that say it helps you to change your psychology with food. So far so good: it’s only been a few weeks but I’m more aware of not just how much and when I eat but also what – they’re big on understanding calorie density and explaining that not all calories are created equal.
But what it has really brought home to me is just how much a lack of body confidence can distort how you perceive your own physical self. And I discovered this by starting to weigh myself again. I’ve avoided scales for years and fully intended to keep doing so. The snag is that when you first sign up to Noom you must enter your current weight and your goal weight so the app can calculate how long your weight-loss journey will take.
I decided to guesstimate mine since I was too terrified to know the answer. But what I imagined was such a scarily high figure that I couldn’t bring myself to input it so I lopped off three stone. It’s all numbers, I reckoned – as long as my weight goes down, why torment myself with the depressing details?
As it turns out, Noom asks you to make friends with your scales and log your weight every morning. Yikes! After a week of avoiding this I relented and decided to square up to the awful truth. I put new batteries in my digital scales and stepped on. Not only was it not as bad as I’d thought but I was three stone lighter than the fake weight I’d input. Meaning I believed myself to be six stone heavier than I am. SIX STONE! This is the pernicious thing about a lack of body confidence – you end up with a skewed idea of yourself. Trying to get out from under the mental and physical weight of such body dysmorphia can seem overwhelming and a lost cause.
I’ve already had debates with friends about whether a daily weigh-in is a good or a bad thing and opinions vary. But after avoiding it for years, I’m finding myself more in touch with my body because of this new morning ritual – and the mental load to my evolution already feels much lighter. I’ll update you again next month with how I’m getting on. @edwinaingschambers