Is Weight Loss Hazardous to Your Health?

By Marsha Hudnall on 06/29/2005
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From my point of view, it’s all in how you go about it. 

If you read or heard about the study mentioned in an article in yesterday’s Washington Post, you might be a bit worried about losing weight .

  The article, titled “Weight Loss May Raise Risk of Death,” shared the results of a study done in Finland that showed “those who were overweight who lost weight on purpose were about 86 percent more likely to die for any reason over the next 18 years compared with those whose weight remained stable.”  It went on to quote various experts who took different sides of the debate.

I think the key issue in the debate is whether the weight loss was intentional or not.  Indeed, that’s what healthy weight loss is really about.  It’s NOT about losing weight on purpose.  It’s about adopting a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating that takes your body to a point that’s right for it.  If you’re at a higher weight because of erratic eating habits or sitting too much or negative thinking about yourself that has you doing both, then changing those habits will likely cause you to lose extra pounds.  But it’s an outcome, not a goal.  And that’s in direct contrast to ‘weight loss at any cost’ schemes that clearly are not healthy, and even ‘healthy’ plans that, because of their weight loss focus, drive people to obsess about their weights, yo-yoing up and down for years.

Giving up on weight loss as a goal is hard for many of us who have struggled with this for years.  We have a tough time wrapping our minds around the fact that focusing on weight loss can actually be a barrier to it happening.  Likewise, if we’re “doing everything right,” and our weight stabilizes at a point that’s higher than the societal ideal, then we often struggle with accepting our bodies at that healthy weight.

Accepting ourselves at any weight is fundamental to our success, too.  For more help on this, check out BodyPositive, a website that advertises itself as a “body disparagement free zone.”  It’s full of great tips for helping you stand tall in face of societal pressures that encourage you to feel ashamed of your size, and subsequently, for supporting yourself in making healthy lifestyle changes that will help keep you healthy and happy at the size that’s right for you. Find yourself a healthy weight loss program.

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