So, we’ve been told forever to focus on weight loss as a goal to improve health, what if we told you there is another way to be healthy that doesn’t involve weight loss??
There’s actually a huge amount of growing science that says instead of focusing on changing the shape and size of our body (our weight) as a goal of health, that if we focus on practicing healthy behaviours and setting these as goals, we are much more likely to stick to them and be healthier (increased lifespan, reduced risk of chronic disease and assist with chronic disease management), regardless of the shape and size of our body [1, 2, 3]!
When we talk about healthy behaviours we mean things that you can actually do in your daily life to improve your health. Things that you actually have control over, that are tangible and that you can change. When you think about it, weight isn’t a behaviour- it’s an outcome of certain behaviours so there’s even less reason to set it as a goal, you don’t have control over it!
It’s not an easy ask to set goals around behaviours that don’t include weight after years of doing so, but not to fear, we’ve listed some examples below:
- Enjoy a wide variety of tasty, healthful foods most of the time, with the amount depending on how hungry you are at the time
- Be physically active whenever possible, including activities you enjoy that involve movement, eg: gardening, dancing, walking in the park
- Foster a nurturing attitude towards yourself which includes kind self talk, positive encouragement, forgiveness, acceptance and self-care
- Work on achieving work life balance with enough time to look after yourself and loved ones as well as to do (or discover) things you really enjoy
- Find a GP you are comfortable with and have medical check ups and health screenings regularly to catch any signs of disease early enough for you to have the best possible outcome
Reflect on a time when you think you were your healthiest and what were the factors other than weight that made you think this? Was it that you had a morning routine, you went to bed earlier, you were more organised in the kitchen?
- Michels & Walk 2002
- Masset et al 2015
- Kurotani et al 2016