Disordered Thinking

There have been a few times in my journey to healthy living where I recognized that I was having disordered thinking. The first time was when I was 250 pounds and I had given up on the idea of ever losing weight. I had resigned myself to always being obese, but part of me always thought “I’d be happy if I was skinny.” Of course, losing weight in itself didn’t make me “happy” but getting healthy certainly did.

Another time I recognized this disordered thinking pattern was when I was about 30 pounds away from reaching my goal weight. I had all this extra energy that I’d never had before and I hated to just sit still. If I had free time, I’d go work out. I was also sooo stuck. The scale was not budging. I hit a plateau that stuck around for so long it made me crazy. My solution? To work out every day. For 28 days straight, I worked out in some fashion–gym, swimming, running, walking. This was most definitely disordered thinking! Rest days are important for the body and the mind and I was clearly overtraining. This experience was the birth of my “two rest days a week no matter what” edict.

Fast forward to reaching my goal weight. I was happy, I felt accomplished and satisfied that I’d reached the goal of losing 100 pounds–and kept going! 110 pounds! I was so proud. Then I made the classic mistake: I stopped doing what worked to the lose the weight and thought I could maintain without counting my calories. Add a medication that causes weight gain to the mix and the scale steadily crept up. This time the disordered thinking was denial. I blamed the 15+ pounds on muscles, on training for Hood to Coast, on everything BUT my own behaviors.

Last year about this time I was getting a little obsessed with the scale. Too focused on what that number was. Thinking too much about those stupid ounces or pounds. Weighing too much. STOP. This is disordered. Walk away from the scale. Thus began my Scale-Free Summer which released me from the unhealthy patterns. It broke the habit of the scale, it made me more comfortable in my body and released me from the chains of unhealthy thinking.

I do not have this disordered thinking pattern 100% beat. If I had to guess I’d say it’s about 80%. Most of the time I am comfortable in my own skin, I am happy and content with my body as I maintain my weight loss, I am proud of losing 110 pounds. But every once in awhile, that disordered thinking starts to creep back into my brain…that little voice that says “I feel so fat.” (Note: Fat is NOT a feeling. I need to remind myself of this!)

Lately I’ve been looking at some photos of myself and thinking, “I don’t like how I look in that picture” or “I wish I didn’t have a muffin top.” I weigh the same as I’ve weighed for a long time now. So why is my brain playing tricks on me? Maybe it’s a control thing…there are things in my life that have happened recently that I cannot control and it sucks feeling like you can’t make decisions or go for your goals because you are waiting…waiting…limbo…But controlling food and exercise is not the area to remedy that.

Maybe I will never be 100% over it. But the most important thing to take away from this lesson is this:

I recognize when my thinking is disordered

and I put a stop to it.

Walk away from the scale, stop obsessing, think of something else, change the behavior when you recognize it happening. I need to celebrate my victories, recognize my non-scale victories, remind myself of what I have accomplished and the amazing things my fit body can do! It’s hard, it takes work and positive thinking, but it can work.

QUESTION: Can you recognize when you are slipping into disordered thinking and change it?


Sometimes when the weight loss process is dragging on and perhaps there are plateaus that we get stuck in, it’s easy to get discouraged. Seeing the same number on the scale is frustrating. Whenever I saw that scale stuck in one place, I tried to tell myself “at least I’m not gaining weight.” That was a positive spin to the disappointment I was feeling.

But I worked so hard this week!

But I made my calorie goals every day this week!

Why isn’t the scale moving?

It’s easy to get obsessed with a number and one trick to get over that is to celebrate something else. Weight loss isn’t ALWAYS about the number on the scale. True health is a combination of things:

Are your clothes looser?

Did you measure your body and see INCHES lost?

Did you buy jeans in a smaller size?

Did you check your blood pressure and it was dramatically improved?

Is your belt too big now and you need to make new holes in it?

If you are keeping track of your weigh-ins, measurements, exercise and goals, I suggest recording all the other things that you see too. Keeping track of positive changes is encouraging. In your journal (electronic or paper), track the inches you lose, your improving moods, landmarks in your health like if your cholesterol levels improve, etc.

Weight Watchers has a term called “Non-Scale Victories” or NSV and I think it’s a fantastic practice to do daily or weekly. Or, if you’d like, keep a gratitude journal. Write down every time someone at work compliments your weight loss.

How to Celebrate Non-Scale Victories

Go on a shopping spree. Buy new clothes in your smaller size and show them off!

Make a goal. For example: “If I lose or maintain ___ weight, I will splurge on expensive running shoes” or “I will hike that local mountain I’m always intimated to try.”

Sign up for something. If you’re noticing your stamina has increased with weight loss, try signing up for a 5k or a walk/run event that you’ve always wanted to do. Getting a t-shirt or a medal for something you’ve accomplished is really encouraging!

Treat yourself. How about a mani/pedi? Or a spa day? Or a day trip to somewhere you wanted to visit? You can reward yourself with anything that makes you happy and celebrates your progress!

Share your success. Tell your friends and family of your NSV and don’t diminish it! Say “I lost 2 more inches!” instead of “I have a long way to go.”


Do I Celebrate Non-Scale Victories?

Of course! In fact, I celebrate those EVEN MORE now that I’m in maintenance mode. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a change on the scale, which is a good thing because I want to maintain what I’ve lost. But I still need those daily encouragements to keep going on my path. I think it’s even more important now.

I count my calories every day in an app and I include my exercise calories burned. I love seeing those numbers and seeing that I’m on track. I celebrate days when I am under my calories.

I also measure my body once a month. This became much more important when I started a strength training program two years ago because I wanted to see progress; I wanted to see if I toned my body up. I took before pictures to compare and I measured my hips, waist, arms and legs.

I’ve had several NSV’s lately. The first one was fitting into a dress I didn’t think would fit me. It was the “tiny” pink dress I took to Vegas and it was on the clearance rack in the juniors section. I had no hope that it would fit me but loved the pink sequins and HAD to try it. I was shocked and ecstatic when it fit! And looked good!

The second NSV was the progress I’ve made lifting weights. Each week I’ve been able to increase the amount of my weights, or reps, and it made me feel strong and successful. Seeing those physical changes in my body inspire me to keep trying and keep working.

The last NSV is my return to running. After an injury and a break from running, I decided to get back into it. It’s slow going but I’m now able to run over 2.5 miles without walking, or without any pain or discomfort. I LOVE that!

Celebrate your progress!

QUESTION: Please share some of your non-scale victories you’ve had lately.