Maybe You Don’t Need To Lose Weight
Before you say, “What?? This girl’s nuts!” just hear me out. First of all, how do you know what is a healthy weight for you? Do you base it on a BMI chart, recommendations from your doctor, your weight in college, what your best friend weighs??? The way I determine a healthy weight is by looking at behavior, not the scale, not a chart, and not by doing calculations. These are the behaviors I look for:
- REASONABLE activity – no, I’m not talking hours/day at the gym. You are moving your body and in a way that makes you feel good. While the activity itself could feel challenging at times, you are not laid out on the couch for the remainder of the day with sore muscles or an injury. You are having fun with the activity, you feel well, and are energized by it.
- Balanced eating patterns – no, I’m not talking about your ratio of protein to carb to fat, I’m referring to a mix of healthy eating peppered with fun foods. You are well fed, eating mainly in response to physical hunger, you are comfortably full at the end of meals, and you allow for the occasional indulgence of eating something purely for the joy of eating it, regardless of whether you are hungry or if it contains any vitamins or minerals.
- Self-care is a priority – nope, I’m not talking about regular check ups and clean eating, I’m talking about doing things that feel like a bit of self-nurture. What makes you happy? What brings you joy? You are engaged in activities for entertainment and pleasure and you are spending time with people who make you happy.
- Adequate sleep – you are getting at least 7 hours of good quality sleep most nights.
- Stress management – you’re handling it well. No one can avoid all stressors but the triggers you can avoid, you’ve eliminated and those you can’t, you feel prepared to deal with.
- You feel well. Minimal aches and pains, your lab work is looking pretty good, you are relatively healthy.
Now, if you can identify a point in time when most of the above was in place and you maintained a stable weight for a few years, then I’d suggest that this was your healthy weight (provided it wasn’t 30 years ago.)
Maybe You Are Going About it the Wrong Way
If you think you are NOT at your healthy weight and you are having trouble working toward it, then maybe you are going about it the wrong way. The right way is focusing on adopting the list of behaviors above. Take good care of yourself: move, eat well, deal with stressors, sleep, and find time for fun. When you’ve done these things and you are feeling good and healthy, your weight will level out at your set point (your healthy weight).
If you try diet after diet and nothing seems to work, then you ARE going about it the wrong way. Diet’s don’t work. Have a look at this TED Talk from neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt, explaining why diets don’t work.
Join us for Healthy Weight Week from January 19-25 to help you stop dieting and change your focus from weight to health.