Are you trying to lose weight to improve your health? What even is a healthy weight?
Do you have a specific number in mind, and once you achieve it, you’ll be ‘healthier?’
Society has probably taught you that weight and health are related, most commonly, that ‘thin’ bodies are healthier. Therefore if your body doesn’t meet beauty standards and expectations, whether that’s in reality or in your mind, then you will believe that to improve your health you need to set goals around your weight.
However, today I want to talk to you about how in most cases this just isn’t true.
Often, the ways in which you ‘tackle your weight’ actually have a negative impact on your emotional, mental and physical health.
The methods you’re currently using to lose weight to ‘improve’ your health might include:
- Restricting your food intake
- Calorie counting
- Fad diets
- Eliminating specific food groups
- Over exercising or choosing how you move your body in order to ‘burn’ more calories
However, although daily habits like home cooking, eating a balanced diet and movement are great ways to improve your health, when they are done to these levels above they actually:
- Decrease wellbeing
- Increase feelings of shame, depression, anxiety, stress and guilt
- Lead to obsession and the inability to focus on anything else
- Decrease your self esteem and body image
- Lower your sense of identity and self worth
- Result in destructive behaviour and thinking patterns
Have you experienced any of these in your pursuit of ‘improved health through weight loss?’
If so, you’re not alone and perhaps you’re one of the 90 to 97% of people who lose weight through dieting only to regain it back within two to five years.
I will also take a guess that whilst on a diet or taking part in weight focused strives for health, that you experience some of the negative outcomes stated above.
So today I want to walk you through 4 steps to help you start to set health goals instead of weight goals…
4 Steps To Start To Shift Your Focus From Your Weight To Your Health
Starting to shift your goals away from weight and actually towards your overall health and wellbeing is important, but can be difficult when you’ve been trapped in the dieting cycle for a while.
But I invite you to work through these steps and you’ll start to be able to improve your health, if that’s what you’re truly wanting.
1. Ask yourself “how do I want to feel in my body and mind?”
If you’ve been chasing a weight for a long time you’ve probably lost sight of your natural body cues and what you actually want.
Often, we are focusing on how we want to look and hoping that achieving this ‘look’ will create the feelings we want.
This leads to an endless and damaging cycle, because even if we achieve that look and it does create the feelings we are chasing, what about when our appearance changes?. Because if I can guarantee you anything, It’s that your skin, weight, shape, whatever you’re focussing on, will change as you go through life for many different reasons.
To escape the cycle we want to focus on how we want to feel now, not later, when we have ‘achieved’ a certain weight or look.
I want you to think about how you want to feel, both in your body and your mind. Perhaps that’s having more energy, feeling more confident or relaxed or perhaps ‘sexier’.
So first, grab a pen and paper and write a list of all the different ways you want to feel…
Download your printable for step 1 here.
2. Explore what you’ve tried in the past
The second step is to think about all the different ways you have tried to create these feelings before.
For now write everything down, it doesn’t matter whether you feel these methods are healthy or unhealthy, we are simply exploring what you’ve tried and the outcome it created for you.
So, I want to grab that pen and paper again and create 4 columns. Title each columns with these headings:
- What have I tried in the past year to improve my health?
- How did this method make me feel?
- Did this method work?
- Did I enjoy this method?
Now, look at what you’ve written and circle any of the methods you’ve tried that you enjoyed and also helped you feel the ways you listed in step 1.
Download your printable sheet for step 2 here.
3. Brainstorm ideas
Step 3 is all about brainstorming all the different ways that you can achieve the feelings listed in step 1.
If you circled anything in step 2 you can write these down, remembering that ‘weight’ doesn’t want to be your focus.
So it could be that as part of a change you made which may have involved dieting, it also included walking daily and eating more whole foods. Although we want to lose the dieting focus (and this bit you probably didn’t enjoy), getting out in fresh air daily for a walk and eating more whole foods will have probably created positive feelings and are ideas you could write down here.
Have fun with this step, think about what you’ve enjoyed in the past but also things you’ve haven’t tried before. There is a certain amount of trial and error and flexibility in understanding what makes you ‘feel’ good.
Download your printable for step 3 here.
4. Set a goal
The final step is for you to set new goals. Goals that feel achievable and create those positive feelings you’re chasing, without dieting and focusing on your scales and reflection.
Have a look at everything you wrote above and identify 1 thing that you can take action on today to improve your health. This needs to be something that you enjoy, something not focussed around your weight and that you can realistically make time for.
I’ve decided to take action on the idea of trying out a new workout routine. I enjoyed dancing when I was younger, so I think I will sign up for a dance class or try an online dance workout video. I know this is something I can realistically make time for, whether it’s attending a class once a week or doing a video at home a few times a week. This goal feels achievable and will create positive feelings of joy, confidence, and excitement in my body and mind. I am looking forward to incorporating this into my routine and seeing the benefits it brings.
Focus on your health, not your weight.
Often we set weight goals because we believe that when we reach that magic number we will be happier, more loveable and healthier.
Before reading this you might have believed that your weight held all the cards and was your answer to liking who you are and finding body acceptance.
But hopefully you’re starting to see that focussing on weight rather than health can actually be having a negative impact on your health and wellbeing.
So, let’s start setting goals that don’t involve putting your self esteem, confidence, wellbeing and health in the hands of your weighing scales and mirror.
This might seem like a massive goal right now, but remember, small steps made consistently create big changes.
I would love for you to share your new ‘health goal’ with me in the comments and how it’s going to make you feel and remember to be kind to yourself along the way.
Hey I’m Natalie, Supporting women like you on their road to self-acceptance and building their self-esteem is – as cliche as it sounds – my calling.
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