How many years have you been trying to lose weight?
How many times have you been on a diet?
First of all, let’s just make it clear that there is nothing wrong with wanting to lose or maintain weight.
Second, let’s also make it clear that it is ok to not want to lose weight. Yes! Even if you’re overweight, obese, or can’t kick that last 15 lbs. You do not have to choose to lose weight.
Losing weight does not always mean you’re healthier.
I know some extremely fit and healthy people who, according to the BMI scale, are considered obese.
I know some very thin people who are super unhealthy.
I know extremely fit people who look amazing on the outside but are barely holding it together on the inside.
Weight does not determine health, nor does it determine happiness, or self-confidence. Health and weight are not synonymous. It’s time to drill this point in every chance we get.
I feel as though, in our culture, there is pressure to always be trying to reach that goal weight. And even more, pressure to stay there once you’ve made it. There is a constant societal expectation to be on a diet or to try the newest program.
In this blog post I want to speak to:
The woman who is ready to be happy in her body, regardless of the number on the scale or the tag in her jeans.
The lady that wants that peace, but who is scared to stop being on a diet.
The female who wants to eat that cookie with zero guilt and without hitting the treadmill afterward.
Today I invite you to change your way of thinking. To realize that ‘getting healthy’ does not have to revolve around weight loss, and that health comes in many forms, many of which have nothing to do with that number on the scale.
One of the first things I do with my private and group health coaching clients is to consider the 12 areas of life where we can all focus our efforts to improve our health. These areas are:
- Physical Activity
- Home Cooking
- Home Environment
- Social Life
- Joy *
Note that ‘weight loss’ is not on this list.
If you find that trying to lose weight makes you sad…
If you just can’t seem to shed pounds the way you used to…
If you feel your size determines your worth as a woman…
Then this one’s for you!
I worked with a Health Coaching client once who hired me to help her shed that pesky last 10lbs. All the tricks that worked for her 5-10 years ago weren’t getting her results anymore. Nothing had worked since her 3-year battle with breast cancer.
In the first few weeks of the program, we fine-tuned the client’s diet by adding in quality nutrition and finding ways to reduce her intake of processed foods and sugars. We had a solid workout routine that she loved but nothing was changing still. The only things we hadn’t changed yet were her cocktail intake and her ice cream consumption. It became obvious that, if she wanted to lose those last 10 lbs we were going to have to have a serious discussion about these treats.
Here’s the thing though, this woman, this amazing survivor, had fought for her life for over 3 years and emerged triumphant. She enjoyed getting together with friends 3-4 nights a week over cocktails to talk and laugh. Every night after dinner, she and her husband enjoyed going for a walk on the beach to their favorite ice cream shop for a scoop.
I could have told this client to switch to club soda to replace the cocktails and to just skip the ice cream, but instead, I asked her this…
I asked her to write down every procedure, treatment, surgery, etc she had gone through in her battle. After many minutes she passed me a list that was over a page long. I picked up the list and then said this, “I know an amazing woman, who in the past 3 ½ years has gone through (and I then read her the entire list she had written down)…” Tears began to stream down her cheeks. When I was finished reading the list I said, “This woman finds immense joy having cocktails with friends and walking along the beach with her love to get ice cream. These are the things she lived for. This amazing woman wants to lose 10 lbs and is considering removing cocktails and ice cream from her life.” I then said, “what do you think she should do?”
My beautiful client, sobbing in the seat across from me looked at me and said, “I don’t want to lose the 10 lbs. I want to live my life.”
It was at that moment that my coaching style changed forever. There are things in life that are infinitely more important than weight loss.
You don’t have to have survived a terrible disease to choose joy, to choose experiences, or to decide you’re not going to focus on weight loss. I share this story in hopes that you stop and ask yourself this question, “what is most important to me right now?”
Sometimes the answer will be, “The most important thing for me right now is that I want to lose weight.” And that is 100% ok. Other times the answer will be, “I don’t give a crap about my weight right now, I want to be healthy in so many other ways that matter more.” This answer is 100% ok too. This latter response is why we are here today. You can find infinite joy on your health journey without thinking about your size at all. Here are 12 ways you can improve your health that can have a much more profound effect on your health than your weight…
If you’re like me, you’ve been obsessing over your appearance for decades. You might not even remember the last time you didn’t think there was something you needed to change about yourself.
It’s so easy to assume that you need to change yourself physically to feel better, but that’s often misguided!
Sometimes, you need to turn your focus inwards. If you’re not in a good place spiritually, it’s easy to feel like you’re not in a good place physically, either!
Spirituality doesn’t have to mean “religion,” though it can if you want it to! Spirituality simply means being in touch with your mind, heart, and spirit. You’ll be surprised how much lighter you feel physically and mentally once you’ve found peace.
Who knows, you might even get to the point you throw out your scale altogether!
I want you to close your eyes…(Wait! Not just yet, finish reading this section first.)
Close your eyes and think back to when you were a kid. I bet you spent hours playing make-believe. That wasn’t a broom, it was a unicorn! The floor was lava and the car a spaceship!
If you weren’t letting your imagination run wild you were probably drawing or making up stories or putting on little shows.
The bottom line is you were expressing yourself. You were creating.
As we get older, we start becoming more logical. We have important grown-up things to worry about. All too often, those creative outlets we used to love get left behind and we end up feeling stifled.
Exploring those outlets again and letting your creative juices flow can be a crucial way to feel whole. So, take that painting class, dance around your kitchen, and wear that funky outfit!
I know what it’s like to be scared to look at my bank statements. To feel like I’m working constantly but like I’m not making any headway in my goals. We’ve all been there. No one is born knowing how to budget, how to balance a checkbook (Raise your hand if you remember when writing actual checks was normal!), or how to file taxes!
The thing is…if your finances are a mess, it’s easy for everything else in your life to feel like a mess. However, since money is so stressful, it’s also incredibly easy to divert your attention to other things that feel more immediate. Worrying about holiday budgeting can turn into wishing you could fit into your jeans from college. Having to carry a credit card balance could create stress about the last few pounds you wanted to lose for your vacation.
Getting your finances in order is daunting, but it can be pain-free, and you’ll feel so much better in the long run.
Do you suffer from the “Sunday scaries?” You know, that feeling you get when your weekend is coming to an end and you know you have to go back to work the next day?
Even if you love what you do, you’re bound to have days where you just feel overwhelmed by work. Maybe you have strict deadlines, or you’re getting used to a new job or more responsibility, or maybe you’re not doing the work you’d like to.
In an ideal world, your work stress would stop for the day as soon as you clock out, but sometimes that’s just not the case!
Maybe that icky, unwell feeling you’ve been dealing with that makes you feel breathless or tired all the time can be resolved by addressing stress from your career.
Don’t be afraid to change jobs, pursue a new career path, or just take a few minutes out of your day to take a deep breath and relax!
I know, I know. You probably thought you were done with school. Believe me, the day I graduated, I was over the moon!
However, after a while, you might find yourself wishing you knew more about a subject or feeling like your current degree or diploma has you boxed in. It’s completely normal! You feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. You were so ready to be done studying, but now you wish you could be back in school, broadening your horizons.
I’ll let you in on a little secret…
It’s never too late to learn!
Whether that means watching free seminars online, taking a six-week class in something you’ve always been interested in, or going back to school to get a degree, it doesn’t matter! If there’s something out there you want to study up on, don’t let it weigh on you! Go out and learn!
(Want to become a Health Coach? Join me as an IIN graduate and become a Health Coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Try free webinars HERE)
Imagine if you made food choices that made you feel great. You woke up in the morning feeling energized and well-rested. That you had the energy to do all the things you want to in a day without feeling like you’re running on caffeine.
People think health has to do with being thin, but that’s not the case. Your health is determined by so much more than your dress size.
When you’re making choices about what to stock your fridge with or whether or not you want to go for that walk, don’t think about the effects your decision will have on your weight. Instead, eat a salad because of how fresh, clean, and energized you feel afterward. Lift weights because you love to feel strong. Go to sleep early because you know your brain and body need rest.
Make healthy choices, not “thin” ones!
7. Physical Activity
Think about your average day. How much of it do you spend sitting or standing in the same place? I bet the answer is hours.
Physical activity releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin…you know, the “happy hormones!” So, it’s no wonder that if you’re sedentary you might find you don’t feel your best.
The problem is, we’re surrounded by the wrong messages when it comes to being active. We’re told we’re supposed to exercise every day so we can stay slim or shed pounds. That you should be pushing hard and sweating buckets, feeling the burn, and frankly, not having fun.
Physical activity is extremely important for improved physical and mental well-being, and that’s true even if you never lose a single pound!
So, find ways to be active that you’ll enjoy! Even just an hour a few times a week can do wonders! So, go to Zumba because you want to shake your booty and get a great endorphin high. Or go for a walk because the weather is beautiful, and you want to stroll through your neighborhood. Not because you just want to lose weight.
(Want to dance with me? Join me on my Dance Fitness Choreo YouTube channel HERE)
8. Home Cooking
I’d be lying if I said your diet won’t affect your ability to achieve wellness. However, like physical activity, most people think a wellness diet means one that’s meant for weight loss.
Home cooking shouldn’t be some sort of punishment or something that’s meant to restrict your life!
Think of it, instead, as another way you can enrich your life. By knowing what you’re putting in your body, you’re able to adapt any recipe to fit your lifestyle! You can use the spices you like, add things that are lacking in your regular diet, and you get the satisfaction of seeing your hard work pay off.
So, make a salad for lunch because you notice you feel energized when you eat something fresh and green. Or make a lasagna for dinner because you enjoy seeing all the cooking steps come together and you like ending your day with a warm, filling meal.
You might not be the perfect chef, but that doesn’t matter! And, remember, practice makes better (not perfect) so the more you experiment in the kitchen, the more enjoyable it will become.
9. Home Environment
My teachers used to say a messy desk equaled a messy mind. While I believe in organized chaos, there’s a kernel of truth there.
You might not notice it, but your environment constantly affects your mental health. If there’s tension with your spouse or roommate, that’s going to seep into other areas of your life as well.
It doesn’t even have to be as dramatic as that! You know that box of stuff you’ve been meaning to donate that’s been collecting dust in your bedroom? Or that closet you’ve been meaning to organize? Or the floors you wanted to vacuum a week ago and you lost track of time? Not to mention the pictures in your head of all the beautiful homes in those Better Homes & Gardens magazines you flipped through at the doctor’s office. All of that might be adding to your stress and anxiety.
Get rid of all the preconceived notions you have about what your home should be like. Picture how you truly want your home to be, and every day, take little steps to make it a reality.
I know what you’re thinking. You saw “relationships” and jumped right to romance. Well, stop right there.
You have dozens of relationships in your life! Family, friends, coworkers…and yes, your sweetheart, if you have one.
When you’re not feeling your best, often your relationships are some of the first things to suffer. Don’t feel bad! It’s natural to stop nurturing your relationships with other people if you’re under a lot of stress or aren’t feeling well even if you don’t mean to. However, anyone who’s ever had a fight with a friend knows that problems with the people in your life can put you in a sour mood for days.
Focusing on your relationships, and I mean all of them, is a surefire way to help you feel a little more peaceful!
11. Social Life
Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, people are social creatures! We’re not meant to be completely on our own. Every so often you’ll come across someone who thrives in solitude, but just because you enjoy the occasional weekend alone doesn’t mean you’re not a social person!
When was the last time you hung out with friends? Maybe you’ve moved and found you don’t have a social group in your new city? Or maybe you’ve noticed your friends enjoy going out dancing and you’d prefer grabbing a coffee or seeing a movie.
All of these things can make it difficult to make plans with people. However, having some social interactions is vital for a healthy life!
Planning things you enjoy gives you a chance to meet new people or stay connected to the friends you already have. So, send a message to your group chat and make plans ASAP!
I bet that, ultimately, you want to be happy. You might think losing those last few pounds will make you happy, but that’s not true!
True joy comes from knowing yourself. Knowing what motivates you, not just what motivates you at work or what motivates you to get to the weekend, but what motivates you in life. What are your passions, values, and aspirations?
The first step to working on your joy is to get rid of everything you feel like you “should be.” You “should” be thin. You “should” wake up at 5 a.m. You “should” travel the globe.
The only thing you “should” be, is the version of you that you truly want to be. Once you figure that out, with some hard work, everything else will start to fall into place.
I know this was a long list, but don’t feel overwhelmed! The point is that your weight doesn’t define you and it sure doesn’t define how happy and healthy you are! Wellness is within grasp no matter what the scale says.
So have that donut, or don’t, pour yourself a beer, or don’t, go for a stroll, or don’t, but, no matter what, stop stressing about your weight.
* These 12 areas of health are from the Circle of Life created by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN).