• Hannah Peterman, Undergraduate Dietetic Intern

Stop Trying to Lose Weight!


I can already hear that voice in your head saying, That’s ridiculous. I need to lose weight! My doctor even said so! Or maybe you’re on the opposite side of the spectrum, and you wish you could manage to keep the weight on.

Whatever your situation, don’t write off this entire post just yet. Take a moment with me to imagine the following situation: You wake up one day with a sore throat. After it persists for a few days, you schedule an appointment with your doctor. After doing a few tests, your doctor prescribes you a medication, but you shake your head and say, “No doc, I don’t want this medicine. I came in for you to fix my throat, not to get this silly medication!”

Of course, we all know immediately that this situation is absurd. The entire reason the doctor prescribed the medicine is to fight the bacteria or virus that is making you ill. The sore throat is a symptom of the real problem.

As obvious as this sounds, our approach to weight is often similar to the above scenario. We see the situation: “I need to improve my health.” Then we imagine the desired result: “I need to shed these pounds.” Then, we frantically search for the new diet, the new cabbage-laden, sugar free, low-fat beacon of hope that promises to make those pounds melt away. And they do! Until, of course, we decide that we like normal food again. And then, those pounds creep back, for no apparent reason.

One simple, three-letter word sheds new light on the situation—the word, “why?” Instead of focusing on the symptom and immediately trying to make it go away, we must consider what the root of the problem is. Weight is not only a poor indicator of true health, but it is merely a number. It never reveals the full story.

Maybe you eat when you're stressed or skip meals when you are busy. Maybe your schedule is so full that you must eat while you’re working, and you lose track of what you eat. Maybe you aren’t even sure what foods will nourish your body the best, because you’re not sure what nutrition sources to believe.

When weight is the central focus, we lose sight of the real problem, and the real purpose of health. Physical health is not achieved by weighing the "ideal" number of pounds, but by caring for the bodies and minds we've been given. Spending time with loved ones, sleeping, getting outside, and stress management all affect our health as well.

So, whatever your health goals, make sure that you’re asking “why?”. If you struggle with food or weight, make sure your end goal is not to just get rid of a few pounds. Ultimately, the goal is to improve your health by getting to the heart of the matter.

#weight #health

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