“But what about my health?!!!” is a frequent objection I hear when I talk to my clients about how to heel their relationship with food and their bodies.
….“If I eat what I want I’ll get fat/ stay fat”
….“If I eat what I want I’ll get high cholesterol and get sick”
….“But that food isn’t good for my blood pressure/ heart rate”
….“That food is bad for me…I can’t eat that!!”
And while I have MANY ways – including scientific ways- to object each of these statements, quite simply:
Fearing food in the long whether in your opinion it’s ‘healthy’ or ‘not’, is still not likely to promote any long term positive outcome…even if it’s your goal to lose weight.
Of course there’s a lot of other ways I could object each of these statements such as discussing the fact that alongside fear, self hatred hasn’t been shown to be a long term successful predictor of weight loss, or the fact that you’re more likely to stay fat/ get fat by dieting as opposed to discovering a way of eating that is easeful and ‘healthful’ (i.e. food is just ‘no big deal’).
Bonus coaching tip: To anyone who hasn’t thought of refuting that which is holding you back (i.e objecting your beliefs and core values), then I urge you to read this post.
What a lot of people need to open their mind up to is this scientifically proven idea that health comes in ALL shapes and sizes these days, hence it’s incredibly prejudice and ‘black and white’ to suggest that weight = poor health and fitness. If this idea that people can be healthy at any size I urge you to read here.
But today I want to discuss: “Does trying to be healthy really support you to lose weight?”.
Let me start by saying that what ‘health’ means to each and every one of us is highly likely to be different in some fashion…. because as individuals our desire and need for ‘health’ is based upon different values, priorities in life and opinions.
To illustrate this I asked some readers of my blog what ‘health’ means to them. I received:
….Health is when you can do what you want to do is life without any restriction.
….Health to me means feel good in all aspects of your life: your physical skills and within your mind.
….Health is when you’re body and mind aren’t stopping you from living a life you want to live.
….Health is when the Dr doesn’t have any cause to be concerned.
….Health is when I’m medically well- my blood pressure and internal health indicators are all ok.
I then asked these people whether their definition of health and applying this definition of health to their life had supported them with their weight loss in the long term (12 months or more) – with the motivation behind the weight loss being for whatever reason (i.e. health reasons or not) – the answer was very clearly a resounding “No”.
Which leads to an important point: “Needing and wanting to lose weight for health reasons” doesn’t magically make diets work— diets almost always fail long-term irrespective of your reasons for going on one” – Isabel Foxen Duke.
That’s a very important distinction to make. Regardless of your reasons for going on a diet, there’s a plethora of evidence that indicates that diet’s don’t work out in the long run full stop……Whether your aim is to lose weight for health reason OR whether your aim is to lose weight irrespective of health reasons, research tells us you’re likely to find yourself in the same position in the long run.
Interestingly in this Ted talk here (which is a MUST watch- it’s only 12 minutes too and I’m sure many of you will relate to a ton of stuff in there), Sandra Aamodt (neuroscientist and science writer) mentions that controlled eaters are more prone to over eating- to binging and weight cycling (primarily due to diet/ binge cycle). Sandra also says that the intention to lose weight is STILL a predictor for failure (not a motivator)…and (still) leads to inevitable weight gain because if diets worked we’d all be thin.
You’ve got to wonder…What’s the next step? If even wanting to lose weight for health reasons doesn’t work, what does?
I believe that you wont make a big difference to your overall health if you don’t truly understand what ‘health’ means to you.
Which involves busting old myths you’ve been told and made to believe and creating a new set of beliefs about health that actually supports you to engage in health promoting behaviours (e.g. exercise that is relaxing and restorative, intuitive eating, mindfulness, eating more vegetables) without expecting weight loss, but rather doing these because they make you feel physically, psychologically and spiritually well and good.
Underneath all of it it’s about cutting your losses and realising that you have no control about where your weight wants to be at. Because after all our conscious brain is always working to keep us safe, especially when it fees threatened and deprived, which Sandra talks about really well here.
If there’s one bit of advice that resonates let it be this: Decide to create your own version of ‘health’ by working out what feel’s good for you – physically, spiritually and emotionally- and go forth and do those things.
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