I’m Glenn Mackintosh, and I’m a weight-management psychologist. What the hell is a weight-management psychologist, you ask, and I wouldn’t blame you. I often get confused with being a PT, a dietitian and, at parties, a mind-reader! Basically I’m a psych who specialises in helping people with eating, movement (I don’t like the word “exercise”), weight, and body-image.
We get a lot of ideas thrown at us about how to take care of our bodies, but not all of it is based on good research, so every week I’m going to be here giving you a little tidbit that can really help you transform your relationship with food, movement, the scales, and your body – and I promise I’ll try my best not to be too “psychologisty” in the process. ;-)
So let’s start with a chat about the scales, but first I want to tell you a story …
When I was a kid, I was addicted to video games. I mean addicted. I would dream about video games, wake up thinking about video games and, of course, play lots of video games. Video games, video games, video games …
My uncle would ask “how is school?” And I’d say “I have this video game, and you have to fight these baddies, and I’m at level 7 …”
My mum would say “why don’t you get some fresh air?” And I’d think is this woman kidding? Why would I trade the flashing lights on the screen for the faded colour of real life?
In fact, it seemed like nothing outside of video games actually mattered.
So why am I telling you all this?
Well, thankfully, I moved past my video-game addiction, got through school with only a few bumps and bruises, and ended up being a health psychologist. I have learned in my practice that people can become addicted to anything. And I feel we’re being conditioned by diets, 12-week programs, bootcamps (and their infinite variations) to become obsessed with the scales.
We tell ourselves it’s healthy to watch our weight, but it ends up taking over our lives.
Suddenly our friends are enablers for wanting to have dinner with us (and at restaurants, the nerve!). Our family is selfishly holding us back from our seventh gym session for the week (don’t they know it’s fasted-cardio day?). Anyone who doesn’t get our addiction is a saboteur we need to cut from our lives faster than carbs.
When we’re in the grip of the scales, only weight loss matters.
Life is a distraction.
Fun is frivolous (not to mention fatty).
Even being healthy takes a back seat.
We’re too busy trying to lose weight so we can live healthy, happy lives! Why doesn’t anyone get it?
I think you know where I’m going here. Of course, I would never encourage you not to take care of yourself – helping people learn to be healthier is my life’s work and passion. But I may ask you to consider whether your health and wellbeing goals are better served by letting go of the weight focus.
I don’t know where my Nintendo ended up, but I’m fine without it, and I’m hoping in a few years’ time you can say the same about your bathroom scales.
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