There are many times in my life where I’ve had to consciously change the words my brain uses for things, or change it’s default programming response in certain situations. For example, over a decade ago when someone pointed out how terrible it is to use the word “retarded” casually, I had to face the embarrassing fact that I relied on it CONSTANTLY and it took a lot of self-correction to stop using it. My brain defaulted to use it, so I had to reset, and now my brain NEVER reaches for it in ANY circumstances.

Similar things happened when I tried to quit cursing, or tried stop making fun of people in casual conversation. (This was a habit I also broke in my 20s but that one was more ingrained than I realized.) Your brain starts to think these things and you have to stop yourself, “Wait. Nope. We’re not doing that anymore.”

Hopefully everyone has done stuff like this and I’m not the only one who has realized she has had crappy language and conversational habits she’s had to ditch.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately in regards to how I think about and talk about my body.

I look at “body positive” people who post proud bikini photos in an effort to redefine what a “bikini body” is and I suddenly feel guilty that I want to lose weight. Should I just embrace this body I have? Am I feeding into the system that makes us all set unreasonable beauty standards?

But then I remember, this body is a result of a terrible relationship with food. It’s not this BODY I’m mad at and that I want to change. I actually really like my boobs and if I had clothes to fit this body I wouldn’t care so much about losing weight…I just can’t afford a whole new wardrobe.

I have to remind myself, it’s not that I want to “lose weight” – and I need to quit thinking about it that way. I want to have a HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD AND EXERCISE. I want to not turn to food when I’m tired or stressed or anxious or sad. And if I do sometimes turn to food in those moments, I want to be able to look at it as an isolated thing and not have it then dictate my binging habits until the next good “start date” for a do-over or reset.

THAT is what I want. I don’t want to lose weight. I want to look at this body and see it as a reflection of the healthy relationship I have with food and fitness.

SO! That means I should quit thinking about and talking about my weight, shouldn’t it?

And that’s where the reprogramming comes in.

I think about my weight CONSTANTLY. I can tell you exactly what I weighed at certain weird and significant moments in my life starting in my mid-twenties. I weighed 119 when Mom had her aneurysm in 2002. I weighed 108 the day I got married. I weighed 125 when I got pregnant with Wesley. I weighed 155 when my Dad died. I weighed 133 when I ran my 110K. I weighed 172 last month.

It’s this weird way my brain marks some sort of “progress” but I can 100% assure you that at NO POINT did I have a healthy relationship with food. During those lighter weights I probably did just because I was smoking, so cigarettes were what food became. But at NONE of those weights do I look back and think, “I was managing my food and my fitness in a healthy way for a sustained amount of time.”

The closest I’ve probably come was during my 110K training but even then I’m 100% certain I was having binge days that I was counterbalancing with 20-mile runs. That helped me maintain weight, but was NOT healthy in a sustainable way.

Why do I have these weights in my head? Why do I weigh myself at all if it doesn’t truly depict a benchmark of anything important?

So…I think I’m going to try to quit thinking about the scale. I know enough about my own personal nutrition and fitness to – hopefully – be able to monitor progress without stepping on the scale. BUT EVEN SAYING THAT FREAKS ME OUT. How will I really know?

But I knew what I weighed all those times before and at no time did that weight mean: HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD AND FITNESS.

So why weigh myself, right?


UGG. Just thinking about NOT stepping on the scale has me freaked out. But here’s the thing, I don’t want to measure my success in weight, right? I mean…that’s not my GOAL. My goal is to be HEALTHY and then LOVE THE BODY THAT HEALTH HAS GIVEN ME. Regardless of weight.


(This reprogramming is going to be harder than I thought.)

I don’t know how to stop thinking about my weight every day. But I do know I’ve had a good week. I’ve kept my eating in check but I haven’t deprived myself of joys like fried pickles and my favorite beer on draft when I went to dinner with my family. This week was a good. I cooked and made food that made me feel good. I traveled many miles by foot. I swam and played. If every week looked like this week and I still had this body, I’d hope to learn to love it. But right now this body represents a food addiction and compulsive behavior around food and fitness. And the scale doesn’t measure success in either of those areas.

So this is my challenge to myself. To try to reset my brain whenever I think about weight or want to talk about weight. I’m not sure exactly how this is going to work, because I can already tell it’s deeply ingrained in my subconscious, but I think if I want REAL success for the future…success that I can maintain in terms of my relationship with food and fitness…then I have to remove the scale from the equation.

6 thoughts on “Reprogramming”

  1. To be honest, one of the problems I have with the body positivity and health at every size movements – neither of which I disagree with At All in theory – is that I have noticed that there has been some reverse shaming happening on social media sites and elsewhere (not speaking about you or your blog, by the way!).
    I am in my late forties and have long struggled with body image issues, and I have been at many different weights in my adult life, so I am speaking from personal experience. I too have obsessed about weight and numbers and, although more so when I was younger, spent far too many years focused more on the number on the scale or the size of my body than I did with health or happiness. So again, I agree completely that that type of obsession is unhealthy, and we should all learn to find peace in our bodies, imperfect as they all are.
    However, that being said, when I have gone through periods when I’ve gained weight (usually correlated to depressive episodes in my life) and then have worked to get back to a weight at which I feel more comfortable (and I should stress that as I’ve gotten older I’ve worked hard to do that through healthy eating and exercise, not restriction), I find that I’ve been accused by some (and lately have been regularly reading things on the internet) that I’m somehow doing something wrong by not embracing my heavier self as it is, and that I am betraying both myself and all women by seeking a lower weight.
    I disagree with this. As long as I am not seeking a weight that is not healthy for my height and frame, and as long as I am using healthy methods of eating and movement to achieve it, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be a lower weight that I find more comfortable, physically and mentally. And I am not necessarily kowtowing to some societal pressure placed on women by doing it.
    Just as we should not police the overweight, we should not police those who seek to find a healthier balance and who know their own bodies and what feels right to them. I worry we’ve swung too far in the body positivity movement if we condemn women who are seeking to lose weight, because it’s not always for the wrong reasons or to seek an unhealthy ideal.
    Whew, sorry if I got a little carried away there. I hope you understand I am just expressing my own frustrations these issues raise, not commenting against anything you specifically said. Seeking health and contentment with your body needs to be done on your own path and in your own way, and I applaud you for doing it. Maybe I just felt that correlating that to, say, using the word retard is not the same, as Wanting to Lose Weight should not be considered a negative statement if one is doing it for the right reasons and in the right way. I hope that makes sense!

  2. It makes PERFECT sense. And I’ve seen similar condemnation like somehow if you are wanting to lose weight you are “part of the problem” which I don’t think is the case at all!!

  3. Ha! “Reverse shaming” is the reason I don’t ever ever ever tell anyone – husband, best friends, family – when I want to lose a couple pounds. I’m not overweight, but when I go up a pound or two as measured on the scale, I up my running and reduce my food. I’ve found that is the best way for me. I’ve been heavier and it was hell for me mentally, both the weight and the losing of it. Part of the mental hell was people saying I didn’t need to lose and I should love my body.

  4. Kim – What if you were to just move the scale to a different location, or leaned up against a wall in an out of the way place – either at home or at your Mom’s house – as a way to lessen your connection to the scale. It sounds like it would be healthy for you to remove the scale from your habits, and that would be one way of helping to achieve that.

  5. I’m not saying this to imply that you should do away with yours, but I don’t have a scale at home and haven’t for over ten years. The only time I ever know what I weigh is when I go to the doctor. As you noted, it contributed no useful information to my life, but did contribute a whole lot of mental negativity back when I had one. I still think about my weight more than I would like, but the obsession that I used to have with the actual number was way worse and I’m glad to be rid of it.
    I share your desire to be healthier, both physically and mentally.

  6. I have mentioned this before and do so again only because it has helped me so much with my brain–check out Emotional Freedom Technique aka Tapping. I like the Ortner work on it.
    I also love Louise Hayes book You Can Heal Your Life. It’s good for affirmations.
    You have done SO many things. You can also retrain your brain!

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