Shifting the Focus from Losing Weight to Gaining Life
Imagine you are at your dream weight. You reached it. You feel good in your clothes. Maybe you finally fit into a pair of jeans you haven’t worn in years. Your confidence is soaring and you aren’t embarrassed anymore. No more squeezing into uncomfortably small seats. Potential mates are paying you more attention. You can see your toes when you look down. You actually take off your swimsuit cover. Overall, you feel better than you have in years.
Then what? How will you maintain it?
Well-documented statistics report that over two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese. While it is good to lose weight to increase longevity and decrease the risk of medical issues and joint problems, weight loss does not need to be an end goal or even the primary driving factor when trying to get healthy.
Weight loss is a result of making lifestyle changes. A benefit of living a healthier life. If weight loss is the end goal, what’s the plan after you reach your goal weight? Worse yet, if your focus is weight loss and you work on healthy habits but the number on the scale doesn’t decrease like you hoped, it’s easy to adopt a “why bother” attitude and quickly slip back into old habits.
What society thinks is your ideal weight, may not truly be ideal for your body. For example, you may be a 5’4” female who has heard the ideal body weight is 100 lbs plus 5 lbs for every inch over 5 feet. Making your ideal body weight 120lbs. I grew up thinking this was the ideal weight for me. A 5’4” female may feel natural or good at 130 lbs or 140 lbs. As another example, I have a male client who thought he wanted to be 170 lbs. After going from 240 to 180 lbs, he realized that was his happy spot. Because our body types aren’t all created equal, you can’t go by this unscientific rationale.
Simply focusing on a number on the scale shouldn’t be your end goal.
What should you strive for instead?
Your ability to do what you want to do without health restrictions until your time on earth is done.
Deep down, the reason most people have a weight loss goal is because their weight impacts their freedom in some way. They don’t have the life they really want. I don’t want to just help you lose weight. I want to help you gain food freedom, movement happiness, and control of your health. I want to help you eliminate regrets, disappointment in yourself, and health worries so you can live your healthiest life and do what you are meant to do.
Eat a wide variety of real whole food pretty much all the time. All the time doesn’t mean most meals of the day minus one. I am talking 1-2 cheats per week. Check out this blog article for more.
Train your tastebuds to desire real food. Just like you train your muscles to be stronger, you have to train (or retrain) your tastebuds to enjoy healthier food. This is an intentional process that eventually makes you nauseous when you think about eating the fake foods you once thought you couldn’t live without.
Every meal needs to be complete consisting of quality protein, lots of veggies, good fat, and optional fruit. This takes some planning. Try to focus on improving one main meal a day rather than all your meals to keep it from feeling so overwhelming. See this Precision Nutrition article on mastering meal prep.
Move because you can and before you can no longer move. I once read we should “run for those who can’t.” Some people are not able to move for physical reasons and wish they could. But those of us who can, should move in honor of someone. Moving is a gift. We lose it if we don’t exercise it. No pun intended.
Move well by working on ways to improve your mobility. Sitting most of the day causes all sorts of issues from our heads to our feet. To understand more, see this article. So be intentional about reversing the effects of sitting or another position you are in often.
Move often as all movement counts and your body was made to move. Take every opportunity to move. Stairs instead of the elevator. Parking spot in the back of the lot. Bike instead of drive. A 10-minute walk if you can’t do 30 minutes. Scheduling your time to move is ideal. Make it an appointment with yourself you can’t cancel.
Get quality sleep so your body can heal properly. If your sleep practices are poor you may need to consider some sleep training. Set a specific time to get into bed with no electronics and maybe read a physical book. You may need to incorporate white noise, get a night guard (that was a sleep game changer for me because I grind my teeth), or be tested for sleep apnea. Here is a podcast to learn more about how to have better sleep.
Practice stress-reducing techniques to calm the body down. Do things on a daily or weekly basis that aren’t stress-inducing, get you away from your email, and allow you to decompress. Consider a daily time of prayer or meditation or taking an art or acting class.
Take time to recharge your body, mind, and soul. Block off time to spend with family. Schedule a short getaway or time at a spa. Create moments that force you to break from always doing and always going.
I am not saying it doesn’t matter if you lose weight. There are cons to weighing too much and benefits to losing some pounds. But what I want people to focus on is the practice of a healthy lifestyle. Trust that will lead you to a better life than simply losing weight.
Regardless of any medical conditions that require specialized help for optimal health, you still need to master the above habits. I understand mastering these may be a big struggle. Remember, it is a progress beats perfection process and requires some non-negotiables. That is why I have created a system to help make it simpler--Warrior Approach.