Are you team goal setting for new years eve? Or do you keep well away? I like setting goals, so I always set them.
You can read here about how I do that: Goal setting
One of the most popular goals is weight loss as a new years resolution, and I’m not about to say to you that you shouldn’t want to lose weight but maybe it’s time for a different approach.
There is a lot of extremes when it comes to health – there is the ‘you should do this diet/count calories and lose weight’ extreme and there is the ‘we hate diet culture, love your body extreme’ but there is always a grey area. The area in between the two, and my approach falls there.
First off, how much you weigh does not equal how healthy you are. You can be in a smaller body and be really unhealthy, or you can be in a bigger body and be really healthy. One does not equal the other regardless of what diet culture tells us.
There is also a lot of really unhealthy ways to lose weight (looking at you diet shakes and tablets) but also less obvious ways too – if you are someone that counts calories or points etc – sometimes the less healthy choice is less calories than the healthy option and we can choose the less healthy option purely for the reason of losing weight.
We quite often imagine that losing weight will make us happier and feel better about ourselves – that our life would be so much better if we just lost the weight and looked the way we want to look – but weight loss isn’t a magic cure and in most cases all those things you dislike about your body will still be there (unless we are practicing self love which is kind of hard when all you can think about it losing weight) and the reality is that most of the things that we think will get better if we lose weight that would make our life better, are probably not actually linked to weight loss or our body at all.
For example, if you have a vision of losing weight and being in the perfect body and being on an amazing beach and having an amazing time because of how you look – while you may feel more confident on that beach, all the other bits that would make it a good holiday (environment, weather, how you feel, the relationships etc) are not linked to your weight at all.
A personal example, when we got married, Anest was 18 months old and I was a stone lighter than I had ever been, but I had got there from being in an extremely stressful and uncertain stage of motherhood and my appetite wasn’t there as much as it should be, I wasn’t getting much sleep, my exercise was sporadic because there was barely any time and it was just stressful. So reaching that ‘goal weight’ didn’t actually require any effort because I was in survival mode – but I wasn’t healthier for it. In fact it was probably the most unhealthy I had ever been with my body in extreme stress mode and not having the time to take care of myself. And secondly, I didn’t feel any better about my body. I still hated the same things, and I still wanted to lose weight.
So what do we do instead?
It’s a bit boring, but we need to focus on getting healthy instead.
That doesn’t just mean what we are eating, that means an all around 360 approach – how well we are eating, how we are moving, how well we are sleeping, our stress levels and how well we are making time for ourselves.
We need to master the basics. For most of us we tend to go all in with some new diet and focus fully on food but we let all the other areas go and they are actually so important in our body weight and how healthy we are.
I want to get healthy – but I still want to lose weight
When we focus on getting healthy – when we focus on eating in a balanced way and when we focus on moving our body in a way that feels good so that we can be more consistent with movement, and when we focus on getting enough sleep, and when we focus on getting enough water and making our lives a little less stressful – weight loss sometimes can happen as a side effect.
Sometimes taking the focus of of something makes it easier for it to happen.
And we need all of those things to allow our body to feel safe enough to get rid of any excess weight it doesn’t need.
Even if you didn’t lose any weight – imagine how good you would feel if you were taking better care of yourself by getting enough sleep and giving your body what it needs.
What if I focus on getting healthy and don’t lose weight?
Remember – healthy weight loss is a slow process. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it has got to be done slowly.
Our body’s main job is to keep us alive and in the status quo. It knows exactly what weight we need to be so that it can function at it’s optimum – that is going to be different for everyone – that is called your set point weight.
Your set point weight will look different for everyone – for some people it will be higher than others. And that is okay.
Even if we all ate exactly the same, exercised the same and lived the exact same life we would all look different – we are not robots!
How do I even get healthy without trying to lose weight?
Firstly, you have got to start tuning into your body. Understand when your body is telling you that it’s hungry and understand when your body is telling you that is has had enough food and honour that.
Your body will tell you what it needs – it’s not always food – sometimes it is rest, or we need an emotional need to be met, or we are thirsty or feel lonely.
If you listen and do what your body is asking – it will change the game for you. Not just weight wise, but in every area.
Your body has all these inbuilt mechanisms to keep you at a healthy weight – but we have tuned them out. It’s time to tune back in.
Weight loss and health are so tied in together it can sometimes feel like you can’t have on without the other, but you can.
Instead of deciding you are going to cut out lots of different foods and never eat sugar again and never do this or this or this again – instead try adding things in.
We don’t like restriction. It tells our body that there is not enough food. Your body can’t tell if there is actually enough food but you are choosing not to give it or whether you have entered into an actual famine.
So what do we do instead?
We add in.
Instead of focusing on all the things you need to give up, think of all the things you can add in.
- add in more movement (that you enjoy)
- add in more fruit
- add in more veg
- add in more home cooked meals
- add in more water
- add in more beans and pulses
- add in more root vegetables
- add in more journalling
- add in more sleep
- add in more chatting to friends
- add in more walks
- add in more protein
- add in a healthier breakfast
You don’t need to cut out all the other foods you eat or the other things you do, when you approach it by an adding in way – you are crowding out the less healthy things without it feeling like you are cutting them out.
It’s a much healthier mindset to have and one that you can actually stick with long term.
Letting go of trying to lose weight can feel a bit scary and unsettling, but focusing instead on getting healthy is such a positive change to make.
Let me know in the comments if you are going to give it a go or if you have any questions!