What If Weight Loss Isn’t the Answer?
In a weight-centric society, we assume that improvements to health and happiness that happen to be accompanied by weight loss must be the result of the lost weight. But are they?
Consider that many people who have lost weight, including some of the leanest people I know, feel terrible. They may be dealing with things like lack of a period, hair loss, exhaustion, high cortisol, crankiness, overuse injuries, poor mental health due to obsessing about food and their bodies, lack of a social life, etc. If losing weight always equals better health, though, shouldn’t they be thriving?
Also consider that we have ample evidence for two things –
- That people who adopt healthier behaviors experience improved health markers REGARDLESS of whether any weight is lost; and
- That people who focus on external goals like weight loss are less successful in the long run at adopting healthier behaviors and improving their health markers.
What actually matters most to you?
Is it losing weight no matter the cost? Because you can crash diet, juice cleanse, overexercise, or lifestyle change your way to short-term weight loss where you *might* look the way you want to look, but also probably feel like crap both physically and mentally.
OR, is it feeling your best no matter what happens to your weight as a result of that? Yes, some people do lose weight when they adopt healthier habits like practicing movement that’s enjoyable, eating intuitively, and prioritizing self-care. But many others gain weight or have no change to their weight at all.
I personally believe that the size and shape your body is when you’re taking the best care of yourself you can under your current circumstances is the size and shape your body is meant to be. That’s one of the reasons I coach from the Health At Every Size (HAES) perspective, which focuses on improving health through means we can control instead of putting the onus on weight loss.
What if your weight isn’t actually the problem?
What if you could adopt healthier behaviors at your current size and start to feel better in all the ways you’ve assumed weight loss would make you feel better (even if you never lose a pound)? What would that mean?