This week I have been working with 3 very different clients who all share the same obsession with numbers. Scales, calories and fat, all very different commodities in their own right, but all equaling the same thing: numbers obsession!
As a nutritionist, I see an obsession with numbers as one of the biggest hurdles I face, as the majority of my clients have a history, regardless in what guise, with numbers.
Have you stepped on the scales daily looking for a reduction in weight?
When they don’t reflect what you are hoping for, does it put you in a foul mood for the day?
Do you use a whizzy app on your phone, recording everything you have eaten drank and pooped (nice!) that day?
Or are you scared of avocados, nuts, seeds and even oily fish as they are ‘full of calories and therefore the devil in disguise’ (yes this is a direct quote from a client!)?
If any of these ring a bell then you are stuck in the numbers game.
I call it a game, as there is most definitely a win or lose scenario here. The issue being you are doomed to lose (and I don’t mean weight!)
Lets start with counting calories. My client, lets call her Mary, came to see me in practice as she had a host of health issues which she couldn’t understand. Mary is a highly educated lady and a professional. Her health concerns, to name a few, included, stress, anxiety, hair loss, heart palpitations, arthritis, persistent cold and flu like symptoms and lack of energy. Mary had other medical issues and had been on a host of medication for quite sometime. She was convinced that her health concerns were a result of the medication she had been taking over the years.
One look at Mary’s health questionnaire and her current diet and I knew exactly what the issue was: calorie restriction. Mary was surviving on approximately 700 calories per day, and had been for over 8 months, in a bid to lose weight. She had restricted her calorie intake, to a very low and dangerous level, without supervision or medical support to lose the lbs. Due to her obsession with sticking to under 700 calories a day, the food which Mary ate, had become nutrient poor and lacking in vital minerals. Zinc, Iron, Vitamin C, Protein, Essential Fatty Acids were non-existent, and her main concern of hair thinning, was a prime example of your body giving you a warning sign that you are malnourished. Her anxiety and inability to manage stress, were clear signs that essential fats, which feed your nervous system and brain, were missing. To round this off, her liver which had to work a little harder to break down toxins created by the medication, was potentially not functioning correctly; as there was a lack of liver cleansing foods in her diet. To top off Mary’s misery, she was no longer losing weight and was scared of the numbers on the scales.
After an hour consultation with Mary we were able to:
- explain the potential causes of her symptoms
- identify the essential vitamins and minerals which were missing from her diet
- create a clear health plan, which has no regard to calorie counting but instead focuses on the fruits, veggies, protein, complex carbohydrates and essential fats she needs
- provide a supplement programme which will support her whilst making changes to diet
- arrange weekly check ins for progress reports, to ensure Mary is supported through her journey.
I have no doubt Mary will thrive. I also have no doubt that Mary will begin to lose weight again, as her metabolism will be able to function properly and toxins will be eliminated. Will Mary continue to be scared of fat, calories and the scales? Most certainly for the next few weeks, but as she regains energy, vitality, cognitive function and loses weight, the numbers will become insignificant. I will continue to work with Mary over the next 8 weeks and am 100 % convinced that she will reap the rewards, both physically and mentally, as she is freed from the number game.
My tips for getting out of the numbers game
- DON'T step on the scales every day. Weight fluctuates daily. If you are looking to lose weight then once a week, same time is sufficient. If you want a more liberating approach, judge weight loss by how your clothes fit and how you feel.
- DO base your food choices around health, rather than weight.You will then naturally reach for the better options, and not worry about the calories.
- DO include healthy fats into your daily diet through eggs, oily fish, avocado and nuts and seeds. A small handful of nuts is a much better option than a diet bar ! Good fat = Good health.
Do the scales scare you and are you fed up of counting calories?
Rest assured that these numbers don’t have to be ruling your life and happiness. Help is at hand. A nutritional therapist can support you through the minefield. Contact me to see how I can help.