Your health and wellbeing is not defined by how your body looks or a number on a scale. I know, you have heard a lot of messages to the contrary (subtle and not so subtle), but I am telling you the truth.
While some research shows a relationship between overweight or obese patients and health conditions like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, this does NOT mean that the fat on a person’s body causes these diseases. Correlation does not mean causation is one of the first things they teach you in research methods!
Think about all the other factors these studies don’t control for: stress induced by stigma and discrimination, activity level and nutrition intake, socioeconomic status, the physiological stress caused by weight cycling. These factors play a larger role in the disease process than the amount of fat on a person’s body.
A weight-neutral approach means that we are not focused on weight-loss as a goal, we are focused on behaviors that support wellbeing which encompasses body, mind and spirit.
The most important question is: How can you best care for yourself?
Going on another diet is not the answer – 95% of diets fail (meaning people don’t lose weight or they lose weight for a short time and then gain it back). While you may have a sense of control over what you perceive to be a problem when on a diet, there are significant drawbacks:
- Controlling your food severs your connection with your body’s natural cues of hunger and fullness and can lead to inadequate nutrition.
- Psychological stress develops from the hyper focus on food, fear of failure and the sense that you should be able to control how your body looks.
- Weight cycling puts a strain on your body’s systems.
Your body actually works against your attempts to lose weight. As you cut calories and exercise more, it adjusts hormones and metabolic activity to help maintain your weight. Studies show that even after continuing to eat less calories people’s weight increased.
You are not damaged or a failure. Your body isn’t wrong. It is trying to keep you alive and maintain homeostasis.
Focusing on losing weight isn’t going to lead to healthy outcomes. Focusing on healthy behaviors will.
How can you best care for yourself? This main question leads to so many others we can explore:
- What do you enjoy eating?
- What foods make you feel satisfied? Energized?
- What type of movement do you enjoy?
- How can you support yourself to get enough sleep?
- What activities help you feel spiritually connected?
- Who in your life will support you in making changes to how you care for yourself?