Find Your Own Definition of Health
Everywhere I go, I hear someone talking about their weight or what they're doing to control their weight - how many calories were in their lunch, what foods they're avoiding, how guilty they feel for skipping the gym, frustration with the number on the scale.
If this sounds like you, I have a question: Why is weight loss important to you?
Is it to improve your health? To have more energy? Because you're waiting to do ____ until you lose weight?
Often, I find that people I work with have been neglecting several aspects of health (and life in general) in the pursuit of weight loss. They see weight loss as the only way to improve their health and they see exercise and/or restrictive eating as the only way to lose weight.
With a laser focus on exercise, restrictive eating, and the number on the scale, things like sleep, stress management, and just generally taking care of oneself seem to get pushed to the side. All of these things have a major impact on energy levels and overall physical and mental health.
Research suggests that numerous markers of health improve with lifestyle changes, even when weight is held stable. Not only that, but weight cycling (continually losing and regaining weight) causes inflammation, which is a known risk factor for development of chronic disease.
The number on the scale is not a definition of health. People in smaller bodies can be very unhealthy and people in larger bodies can be in perfect health. Weight loss is not a requirement for health or for you to live your best life. Do people sometimes lose weight when they start taking better care of themselves? Yes, but that isn't what improved their health.
Stop beating yourself up over your weight. You deserve to take the best care of yourself now, regardless of the number on the scale.
Start defining your health in ways that are actually useful. Maybe that's maintaining a regular sleep schedule, eating when you're hungry, moving in a way that feels enjoyable, or scheduling time each day to do something that brings you joy.
What might pursuing better health look like for you?