With the state of our current diet culture, it is no surprise that so many of us have been led to believe that thinness is the golden ticket to a happier, healthier, and more successful life. So therefore it is completely understandable for people to want to seek out different ways to achieve weight loss. However, it is important to note that so many of these people will also experience many negative physical and mental health effects as a result of attempts to lose weight, or through the effects of weight regain.
Factors can attribute to weight regain include:
- Conflict between personal values and health goals
- Binge-restrict cycling due to extreme dieting
- Emotional/stress eating
- Effects of certain medications
- Metabolic and hormonal changes e.g. increased hunger, reduced metabolic rate, hormone fluctuations
Many of these factors that lead to weight regain can be addressed through nutrition coaching from a qualified and experienced professional, such as an Accredited Practicing Dietitian. But digging into the issue a bit deeper, we know that many diet approaches that lead to short-term weight loss are highly likely to result in weight regain occurring. So, for some, it may be more beneficial to focus on new other ways of benefiting our health, instead of focusing solely on weight loss.
So, what are some other goals we focus on instead that aren’t directly weight-related but can improve our overall health? Well, there are many other factors you can focus on that aren’t related to weight loss. Because there is evidence to show, that weight loss alone is not an indicator of good health, which has been exemplified through the use of approaches such as HAES (health at every size) and intuitive eating, both of which can be extremely beneficial to participants’ overall health and mental wellbeing. So let’s dive into these other areas that are healthy behaviors that we can focus on that aren’t directly related to weight loss:
1. Improving your relationship with your body
We have been taught to always look at our body with judgment and always be seeking ways to improve it. However, this is not helpful for so many and creates a negative relationship with our bodies. Instead, using the approach of body neutrality or body acceptance can mean we can live our lives happily within the body without judgment, and instead acknowledge and respect it for all that it does for us. This involves consistent attention to our mindset and thought patterns around our body, and is something that you can continue working on daily. Some simple ways of practicing this could include:
Redirecting conversations – If any of your friends or loved ones bring up a conversation about weight, size, or express their discontentment with their bodies, change the conversation into one that is discussing how you (or they) feel, rather than discussing looks.
Reframe negative thoughts – If you notice yourself criticizing your body or others, instead you could try and reframe the thought into one that’s based on all the amazing things your body does for you, such as its strength, ability to protect and heal you, or it’s ability to move or adapt when needed.
On one hand, this could be bubble baths and massages, however, there are many other ways we can practice self-care to improve our physical, emotional, and mental health in our daily lives. It can be helpful to make a list of these things and work them into your weekly routine, however, some helpful self-care tips to get you started could include:
- Going to bed an hour earlier
- Prepping healthy meals in advance
- Cleaning your space (yes, that washing basket full of clothes isn’t going to fold itself)
- Have a social media detox (e.g. less time on social media or remove people who you follow that do not serve you in a beneficial way)
- Calling a friend or loved one
- Spending more time outside
- Getting in some movement/exercise every day
3. Body Trust
Your body is a complex and intricate system that we all too often try to work against rather than work with. Intuitive eating is one approach to trust our body more. This approach utilizes internal hunger and fullness cues to guide our food choices and free’s us from restrictions and food rules. Listening to your body and trusting it can help to create a positive space that is beneficial for your mental and physical health. Being curious about what your body actually needs at that given time is key – do you need more water? Do you need to move more? Do you need more fresh fruit & vegetables? Do you need to slow down? For so many people this gentle approach allows us to live a healthier and happier life that is led by listening to what is best for our own bodies.
If you’d still like to lose weight, it is important to find your reason “WHY”
Listening to these thoughts and digging deeper into our emotions can help to uncover the reasons why we do certain things or have certain thoughts or feelings. For example, next time you have thoughts about losing weight, take the time to assess your situation and figure out the reason WHY you are having these thoughts, and if it is going to be beneficial for you to follow through with it. Ask yourself, will weight loss actually help you to feel happier in your relationships? more fulfilled in your career? will it help your confidence? Asking yourself why can help to uncover the reasons behind your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and making choices based on what is best for us is usually the right choice to make, rather than anything you’ve been told to believe. We know that people who have a strong connection to their actions and their goals are aligned with their values, are more likely to achieve and sustain weight loss long term.