Yeah…Immaeatthat

Feb 23

The prescription for “weight obsession disorder” (aka a disorder I just made up.)

There is a term eating disorder clinicians use when treating eating disorder called, “phobic weight.” It refers to a weight that the client reaches and begins to feel extremely overwhelmed to be at.  I usually see clients experience their phobic weight when they hit ~90% of weight restored*.  They can’t imagine having to gain the last bit of weight, but must to continue to progress to complete ED recovery.

I was thinking about phobic weight recently and about how even those without diagnosed eating disorders could probably relate to this term.  Do you have a weight or a pant size that if you go above it you feel anxiety and stress?

I don’t think I ever had a weight I didn’t want to go above. My unhealthy mentality in my ED was more, “just become smaller and smaller and then you will have…” I really can’t remember how I finished that sentence. In 8 years of being constantly hungry and then bingeing and being overfull afterwards I never once gained anything positive.  For me my ED recovery was all about gaining.  Yes, gaining weight AND also gaining a sense of self and identity that allowed me to (eventually) be okay with the weight gain.

The diagnostic criteria for anorexia and bulimia includes a preoccupation with weight.  While there are other diagnostic criteria you must have to be diagnosed with an ED, I imagine that most women are preoccupied with weight and they experience an “undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation.”

I feel we need another diagnosable disorder called, “weight obsession disorder,” where the prescription or treatment plan from your doctor is: immerse yourself in HAES messages by reading Body Respect and Intuitive Eating, listen to Food Psych by Christy Harrison, read my How to Eat posts, read The Real Life RD blog, and sign up for my course.  

All those resources may help your hyper obsession with weight begin to shift.

Like any prescription you are given, for it to work you have to take the medication.

To stop being obsessed with your body size, you have to want to not be obsessed with your body size. To go to California, you have to buy a ticket to California.  To get out of the mentality you are in, you have to do something to move towards a different mentality.  If you are feeling miserable with your body size and trying to become smaller and smaller and dieting hasn’t helped, perhaps it’s time to take action in a different way.  Instead of changing the physical, move towards changing the mental via the “prescription” above.

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.  What have you done or are you doing to change your unhealthy mentality and your preoccupation with your weight/body size?

*those struggling with an eating disorder that causes their weight to drop have to be weight restored to a healthful weight that is determined by their dietitian.

27 comments on “The prescription for “weight obsession disorder” (aka a disorder I just made up.)”

  1. I stopped weighing myself over a year ago! I also stopped wearing a heart rate monitor which made me anxious to see how many calories I was burning. Removing these “things” that are triggers helps me have a better body image because it is one less thing that aides in body critiquing. 

    • I agree so much, Andrea. Getting off the scale and getting rid of heart rate monitors/fitbits/apple watches is a positive step in the right direction for helping one focus on the internal (how one is feeling)…not the external (how one is looking).

    • I really agree with this. Most days I feel great in my body and have recently been thinking that I feel so much healthier compared to when I obsessively exercised. A couple of weeks ago I stepped on a scale, saw I had gained a little weight and panicked. My mind went to that horrible place of ‘oh go for a run, do a juice cleanse this weekend, no more sugar for a week,’ but then I had this epiphany. I was like ‘hang on, I have been feeling fantastic lately and look healthy for the first time in awhile. Why should a dumb object take away from that. Why should I trust something inanimate over my own feelings.’ I made a decision then and there to never ever weigh myself again. I finally got that quote ‘you are more than a number of a scale’ for the first time! Removing things that trigger is the best because it really does get you in touch with your own body again.

    • The heart rate monitor! I wore that all the time. Even walking my dog was a race to burn calories. So much anxiety. I’ve stopped wearing mine, as well. It’s like a weight has been removed. Still working on getting rI’d of that scale.

    • That’s how I knew I was ready for a change too, by removing those exact things! I remember when I would wear my heart monitor while running I would get so frustrated when my heart rate wasn’t where I wanted it to be. So I stopped wearing it for a while and wore it for a half marathon I ran in November, and haven’t touched it since then. I still struggle with weighing myself (I did yesterday for the first time in maybe a month) and when I see I have gained weight it still doesn’t sit well with me, but the number isn’t as big of a deal as it used to be because I’m happy with the way I look.

  2. It all makes me wonder what the Creator thinks looking down at us seeing so many of us tie our identity to our relationship with grativity. I’ve been there myself. And it’s absolutely soul sucking. Really the only thing that worked in my pre-recovered life was not weighing myself or spending too much time in the mirror. Avoiding dressing rooms. There was a lot of avoiding as I gained weight, but that’s what worked for me then. I still don’t weigh myself and I have no desire at all, but I do spend a few extra seconds looking at my body in the mirror and appreciate it. It’s exposure therapy, if you are will. I wish that I could convince everyone without a medical reason to stay off the scale!

  3. I read intuitive eating (but I want to go back and read it again since I read it so long ago in the midst of everything,) I stopped using the scale, I stopped exercising x times a week and started just doing what feels good, I got your course (WHICH I LOVE), I read therealliferd all the time, I stopped following people on instagram that make me judge my food and stated sharing more HAES/food positivity posts (I am still trying to post more of the foods that I’m eating that aren’t in my definition of “health” so I can start eating without judgement completely!), and lastly I have made a box of self care filled with water colors/markers/colored pencils/a book/a journal etc. All these tools help me SO MUCH. Yesterday was a bad day (anxiety, body conscious etc.) but I wrote in tm journal a few times and watched your course and it really helped!!

    I do have a question though. I have always been the “healthy” girl. Especially since I want to become a dietitian, people assume I only eat lettuce and can help people become skinnier when they ask. When I eat something that’s not “healthy” I get comments (from friends, usually) and I feel like my food is being watched. I am not sure how to respond to these comments. It makes me especially anxious knowing I have people watching me and my thoughts start to spiral (aka- my thoughts continue to spin about people watching my food/weight/body size etc.)
    Thank you so much! I feel like I say this each time I post but you are truly my inspiration to normalize my eating/exude self confidence and in the future help others!

  4. Great post! I am really trying to adapt more of an acceptance of my body weight. When I was actively in my ED, I weight less than X pounds and I, of course, wanted to weight even less. Like you, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to weigh less than the weight I already was. It’s very exhausting.
    I always though my “phobic weight” was anything about X. I am exactly X now, and surprisingly, it doesn’t really concern me like it once did. I made a conscious decision to love my body and myself for more than just my weight. I am healthy, I am active and I feel less stressed out around food. Every day isn’t perfect, but I’m finding more and more that I place less value on my weight and more value on other aspects of myself and my life.

  5. It is so hard!  Every step of the way to recovery is a choice and, like you said, you have to be a present participant the whole way through and beyond.  Even now, I find myself actively saying “no” to body checking or actively scan my body to see what it’s actually asking for: food, what kind of food, feeling and emotions, relaxation, movement.  I definetly had phobic weights.  And every time I surpassed one, it was like “oh, I thought the world would end but I feel WAYYYYY better”.  The mind is a powerful tool but you sometimes you have to re-wire it to work for you instead of against,

  6. I haven’t weighed myself in 10 years. No joke. It is a running laugh with my doctor now. I just don’t want to know nor do I care. I just want to live my life happy and healthy. If I am doing those two things, why does a number matter?

  7. I can totally relate to the idea of “I just want to be smaller and smaller and then I’ll be…”. Shifting my mentality is still a little difficult. However, I finally covered up all of the mirrors in my apartment because I have to look in the mirror all day long in my classes (life of a dancer!) Something else I’m trying is to talk to myself in the mirror if I find myself having negative thoughts or pinching at a certain part of my body. I say, “Your weight does not define you. You are strong and exactly where you’re supposed to be.” So far, it’s helping. Sitting with my feelings is hard!

    • Man. I prefer to go to the non-mirror yoga classes so I can focus on the internal…not the external. That’d be tough to be surrounded by mirrors as a dancer. I worked at the Houston Ballet for a couple months as their dietitian. It wasn’t the right fit for me. The dietitian there now is excellent at scanning for EDs and helping the dancer’s take care of their bodies. Dance is interesting. I always felt like it was a VERY fine line between having the aesthetic the profession encourages and having a full blown ED bc there body wasn’t supposed to be that size.

  8. I love reading your posts and every day I listen to one of the Food Psych episodes. Next up I plan to read Body Respect. I love that you are emphasizing the paradigm shift that is necessary for society! I’m finishing up my masters in dietetics and while I still have some of my own personal disordered thoughts, staying connected with others who feel so passionately about this topic keeps me grounded. I am excited to take the anti-diet approach with me as a practitioner to whatever field I go into.

  9. Another awesome post! I completely agree. I have always struggled with the idea of “oh, I just need to be smaller, hit __ weight and then I will be ___.” I thought the less space I took up, the more “worthy” I would be of people’s attention, affection, etc. That is so messed up. Ironically, the only time I remember feeling completely at peace with my body and food was when I was pregnant and bigger than ever! But that’s probably because of the societal standards that it’s okay to be big when you’re pregnant (but you know, not too big, or then people ask if you’re having twins, which happened to me numerous times…so obnoxious). I recently began my own intuitive eating journey after 12+ years of the restrict-overexercise-binge cycle and feel amazing. I am so proud of myself. It’s only been a few days since I threw away my food scale, but I feel so liberated and guess what? I’ve been listening to my body, eating what satisfies me, moves in a way that feels good and I try not to allow these numbers (steps taken, calories burned, etc) to influence my happiness anymore (and I’ve had zero desires to binge!). I let those numbers dictate my entire life for so long and feel like I’m gaining myself back. The post you shared a while ago about your brain with an exercise compulsion vs. not is so true – I literally had NO other interests for so long because all of my time was taken up by those stupid worries.

    I have a somewhat unrelated question for you – I’ve asked a lot of people for feedback about this and have gotten a lot of different answers. But what do you do when you’re genuinely hungry but none of your food options seem like they would be satisfying to you? I am finally able to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger, but sometimes when I know I need to eat, I can’t figure out WHAT I would be satisfying. Some people have actually told me to not eat if you can’t figure out what you want. But, if I’m genuinely hungry in the evening and don’t eat, I know I won’t be able to sleep. I realize not everything you eat has to be the most amazing thing ever, but as someone who has restricted for so long, I really am trying to be in tune with what my body wants. What is your opinion? Thanks! :)

  10. It’s so hard to convince our minds of what our bodies truly need. In my case, I had to get extremely ill and almost incapacitated to have introspection into the fact that I needed to give myself a break – physically and mentally. I haven’t run or exercised in weeks and I feel more at ease and less anxious than when I did. All the time spent trying to figure out when/how much to run, how to squeeze in exercise, what to eat, etc.. that was all taking a toll and I didn’t even know it.

  11. I recently discovered food psych and have been listening to it non stop! Its amazing. I also have been following robyn’s blog for years but recently just went back to her heartier years and have been bing reading her posts haha! She make me want to eat more and she also posts amazing simple recipes. Such great recommendations in my opinion! Love love love your blog!

  12. Reading this blog and Robyn’s blog, listening to podcasts like Food Psych, and deleting people on IG were the biggest things. I needed to immerse myself in the body positive message, but also get rid of all the diet mentality crap and “fitspo” stuff I was seeing everyday on my social media feeds. Doing this was a huge step for me, but I really think it helped take my recovery to the next step and allow me to fully embrace who I was becoming and not keep comparing my journey/body/etc. to others.

  13. I am bookmarking this to reread. I am at the tail end of my healthy weight range set by my dietitian. I have been maintaining for a few months, but my ED is very loud- suggesting I just lose x pounds… but we all know where that will get me. I am trying to just sit in this healthy weight and learn to love this healthy body. It also helps to remind myself how miserable I will be living with the rules of my ED again. Thank you for this post, you always have such wonderful words of wisdom.

  14. LOVINNGGG all your posts lately – killing it! 
    Thanks for the shout out :) Keep being awesome, this world benefits SO much from you. 

    xoxo

  15. I just found your blog and I love it already!! Its always seemed to me there’s a spectrum of eating disorder-ness that almost all woman today lay along it somewhere.  As a ‘recovered’ one of these women, I sometimes really struggle to be around woman who do not technically have an eating disorder, but talk a lot about weight, exercise, calories, fat content … eeks. Never again do I want to think about fat content.  For my personal journey, gaining the weight was the most important step.  Once I gained the weight I realized how many other things I had gained in my life and how few things I had lost.  

    • <3<3<3 glad we found each other! Another commenter mentioned that she pretends those women who do not technically have an eating disorder, but talk a lot about weight/exercise/calories/fat content are her eating disorder voice. I thought that was brilliant!

  16. It’s crazy how society has ingrained it in people’s minds that it’s normal to be obsessed with weight. And even so many RDs are still perpetuating this way of thinking. I’m actually supposed to run a weight loss program at work (lol NOPE not happening) but I’ve completely modified it to turn it into a program to help people get out of the dieting mentality. Good thing my boss isn’t checking up on me lol!

  17. For me, buying clothes that fit at my new size was key. When I tried on pants every morning that didn’t fit, it wore on me. I constantly wanted them to fit. Per my dietitians suggestion ( go Cody!) I went shopping for new pants that looked good where I was. This was hard for me mentally and financially to take this step but it is so worth it to enter the day confident!!

  18. My body image has been terrible this week, but I did catch a completely unreasonable thought and told myself not to believe it. I thought “If I’m going to be this sad I might as well restrict too and lose weight.” Instead I told myself that I’d feel better by nourishing myself with sweet potato chili – and a shower. Most things feel less overwhelming after a nice shower.

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