When clients first come to see me, it’s common that their chief concern is the number on the bathroom scale. Therefore, they may initially be disappointed to learn that weight loss is not my primary focus. This is not because I don’t understand the battle of the scale. In fact, I’ve struggled with my weight and body image since childhood. To this day, my thinking still goes there sometimes.
However, I’m here to let you in on a secret.
The bathroom scale never was, and never will be a true representation of health, nor is it the key to your happiness.
The bathroom scale is not designed to measure body fat alone. When you step onto the scale you are also weighing bones, muscles, organs, skin or the big glass of water you just drank. The bathroom scale is unable to take into account weight fluctuations due to hormone changes, or water retention in connection to electrolyte imbalances.
How many times have you stepped on the scale only to be disappointed? Has it cast a shadow over your entire day?
When we think about all the things that actually factor into that number (i.e. it’s not just fat), isn’t it silly to give it so much power?
Even Body Mass Index or BMI, (which is a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters), which is widely used as a marker of health in conventional health care, does not take into account body composition. It’s also worth noting that conventional standards for measuring healthy body weight are based on Caucasian males. While BMI does have its place, it’s important to understand that a very muscular person may have an BMI that would be categorized as overweight or even obese.
Looking at the flip side of the coin, it’s possible to look thin and have a low BMI, but have a lot of visceral fat. This is what the medical community has dubbed as “skinny-fat” or TOFI (thin-outside-fat-inside). Visceral fat is an inflammatory type of fat that surrounds, and can cause damage to, your internal organs, and can narrow your blood vessels. Visceral fat is also linked to depression. 
Both those who are visually overweight and TOFIs can be metabolically sick, due to this visceral fat and other markers, which I will discuss below.
Maybe you’ve seen the examples where they show two pictures of the same women at the same weight, but looking very different in terms of body composition. Are you starting to understand why the number on the scale can be so misleading?
SO, what about this ‘Healthy at Any Size’ movement? Where does this factor in?
While I 100% agree that unrealistic expectations have been placed on women for decades in regards to body size, and that there is absolutely not one ideal body size, I don’t believe that we can be healthy at any size.  This messaging is damaging and can be extremely dangerous to those who are underweight, and those who are overweight.
Therefore, I think it’s time to take a step back and look at the whole picture to get a better understanding of health, while using metrics that take more into account than just the number that’s reflected at us when we step onto a scale.
What are these other metrics, and why should you care about them?
Let’s take a look. The following metrics provide you with some excellent insight into your health and can help you find happiness on your journey towards freedom from sugar addiction:
Many fitness tracker watches can now measure HRV, as well as RHR. Blood pressure monitors are fairly inexpensive, or may be used for free at your local pharmacy. Body measurements are also easy to do at home, all you need is a flexible measuring tape.
If you’d like to take it to the next level and get an even deeper understand of your health, there are some tests you can ask your doctor to run. These include:
Now, I would like to offer you some suggestions of actions you can start today that would have a positive impact on most, if not all of these metrics. Which in turn, will undoubtedly improve your overall health, including body composition.
As you read through the following list, be honest with yourself about how you’re doing in each of these areas (feel free to give yourself a score from 0-10 so that you can return later and see where you’ve made improvements):
Hopefully you agree that each of these supports our overall health, but maybe you’re still wondering how we can connect them to positive body image and overall happiness? You may also be wondering how all of this relates to recovery from sugar addiction?
Well, if you’re new to this space, you undoubtedly have questions about the food, so let’s look at why consuming sufficient protein is so important, as an example. A key part of nutrition when it comes to sugar addiction recovery is making sure enough protein is consumed.
Protein is extremely important for repairing the damage sugar does to our brain and body. In addition to this, protein, (extra points for adding strength training exercises) builds muscle.
The more muscle we have on our body, the more fat we burn. Dr. Gabrielle Lyon describes this concept beautifully stating that “our muscles drive our metabolism”. She is well known for her view that we’ve mistakenly been following a fat-focused paradigm, when a muscle-centric approach offers a much better, and long-lasting result.
And how does consuming enough protein impact the metrics of health that I mentioned?
Looking first at blood pressure, you may be surprised to learn that blood pressure is much more affected by sugar and carbohydrate intake than it is by our sodium consumption. By increasing protein, which is highly satiating and helps to stabilize our blood sugar levels, we often naturally reduce our sugar and carbohydrate consumption, which can help to stabilize our blood pressure at level that is more supportive to our health. This is due to the fact that protein can directly reduce cravings.
Now, just to be clear, I’m not saying that by consuming sufficient protein our cravings for sugar 100% magically go away, but it absolutely plays a role in reducing them! In addition to this, making protein the focus of each meal, even if carbs are consumed, can help to lower our post-meal blood glucose which is another important metric of health.
We’ve touched on how protein affects our body composition. Now I’d like to reinforce why the scale is not a helpful measure of progress, especially during the sensitive period during the initial stages of recovery. When we make the switch to a more nutrient dense food plan, it’s common to see the number on the scale stay the same, or even increase, even though body fat is decreasing, because we are building muscle.
Lastly, not many studies have looked closely at how protein consumption directly affects RHR and HRV. However, we do know that those with metabolic syndrome have higher RHR and lower HRV.  And, as I stated above, protein intake can support positive changes in body composition which improves metabolic syndrome.
Therefore, focusing on protein can help to support an improvement in RHR and HRV indirectly through improvements in metabolic health.
Now I’m not going to go through each of the remaining suggestions (i.e. moving your body, getting adequate sleep, managing your stress, drinking enough water, daily practice of relaxation/gratitude) in detail, but I will say that all of these have been instrumental in my own recovery, and the recovery of my peers and mentors who are in recovery from addiction.
Hopefully I’ve given you enough ‘food for thought’ (pardon the pun) to at least consider “breaking-up” with the scale.
You’re worth it!
If you'd like to learn how you can work with me, you can schedule a free Sugar Freedom Strategy Session by clicking the button below
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