Why Weight Loss Is The Wrong Goal
April 27, 2012 by Marsha Hudnall
Filed under Dieting, Eating Disorders, Fat Acceptance, Featured, Finding Your Voice, HAES, Healthy Coping, Loving Your Body, Mindfulness, Role Models, Self Esteem, Self-Acceptance, Self-Care, Self-Compassion, Sharing Feelings
A Marsha Hudnall blast-from-the-past, originally posted September 11, 2009.
No, I don’t want to put myself out of business. I’d just rather help women set and achieve goals that will really take them where they want to go.
The typical weight loss scenario might be summed up in one of the Biggest Loser seasons. We decide we’re going to lose weight, then go about doing it in ways that often mean weight loss at any cost. I confess I haven’t watched the show – ever – but everything I’ve heard/read about it says it’s about losing weight fast, often in very unhealthy ways, working really, REALLY hard, and in general doing things that someone likely couldn’t accomplish on their own.
Then there’s the fallout when they are on their own – weight regain.
And the consequences of that;
Continued poor body image.
Maybe even poor health.
What if we changed our goal to feeling great?
Consider this scenario: I am above a healthy weight for me, but that’s not something I focus on. Instead, I look at my lifestyle habits. I decide eating on the run isn’t making me feel well. Likewise, working 10 hours a day, just to go home and veg in front of the tv. I decide to explore how I can do things differently. And start doing just that. With small steps that I can keep doing over time.
If I’m focusing on my weight, I’m likely to be chomping at the bit. Because my weight loss can be really slow (if it happens at all – more on that below). If I’m not focusing on it, however, after a (long) while of doing things that make me feel well, I can find my weight has moved to a point that’s right for me. But the big bonus is that I’m safely ensconced in a healthy lifestyle that makes me feel great, and that I don’t feel the need to escape from.
Oh, about that big “if” re weight loss. Weight loss occurs through healthy lifestyle changes for those of us whose unhealthy weight came about through unhealthy lifestyles. If we’re genetically designed to be larger, a healthy lifestyle isn’t going to make us smaller. It will just help keep us feeling great. A fabulous outcome in my book.
There are other situations in which a healthy lifestyle doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss, situations that aren’t totally understood, such as the typical weight gain of menopause and aging. The bottom line here, however, is that trying to lose weight usually only creates more problems than it solves. Feeling great, again, is a goal that supports us better.
In this society, it’s hard for women to give up on weight loss. That’s what this blog is about — the unrelenting expectation that women should fit one image and the waste of our lives that results from chasing that image.
If we could change our focus to health, accepting whatever body size that results, imagine the relief, the peace, the productivity that could come from that.
Those are the principles behind the Health at Every Size movement, which is gaining momentum, slowly but surely. If you’d like to help move it forward, consider joining the Association for Size Diversity and Health.
And I’m not worried we’ll go out of business because we’re really not about weight loss at all but about helping women get past concerns about weight to be the best they can and want to be.
I’ll leave you with a question– what personal habits could you change now that would improve your health slowly by surely?