"I want to lose weight because I want to get healthy."
"I need to lose weight because I need to get healthy."
"I'm not healthy in this body."
Have you ever had similar thoughts?
I'm sure you have! Because most people I chat with everyday have them, have had them and are bound to continue to have them!
Can we talk a little bit about why?
We've been taught throughout our lives that there is direct causation between fat and poor health status.
But, I want to not only encourage you, but help you to challenge this thought.
For lots of reasons.
It's harmful. Leads to increased stigma against people living in fat bodies. Increases chances of eating disorder behaviors and mental health struggles. Lowers self-esteem. Prevents people from seeking AND receiving proper and effective health care...
But also, the longer we hold up our health status in a body size, fat percentage or a number, the longer we'll be stuck on the seemingly perpetual binge and restrict, weight cycling, roller coaster ride.
Something I want to point out is that correlation does not imply causation.
In other words, just because 2 things happen at the same time doesn't mean that 1 thing caused the other. So, when we look at research that concludes there is a a correlation between xyz health condition and weight and body size, we are actually doing nothing to prove that the one thing caused another.
We're simply creating more hysteria around body size.
And, without an actual cause, how can we possibly cure?
Consider this... the cure that's primarily pushed by the health and wellness industries is thinness, or weight loss. And the pursuit of thinness (dieting) is actually only successful for the long term for a statistically insignificant segment of the population (about 4-5%).
The rest of us spend time blaming and shaming ourselves for 'failing' at taking care of ourselves. 'Failing' to take care of our health. Pulling us further away from effective self-care and well-rounded health.
Remember, the diseases that are often linked (‘correlated’) and blamed on (‘caused by’) weight and fat, don't only occur in fat bodies.
Thin people (people of all sizes!) experience diabetes. Heart disease. Degenerative joints. Cancer.
The pursuit and maintenance of health is far more complicated than making a blanket assumption that weight/size=health. It's an easy one for us, as consumers, to buy into because of the cultural narrative, but this is an assumption that actually pulls us further away from the type of health we're so desperately trying to achieve.
Did you know that weight cycling, or yo-yo dieting, increases inflammation in your body, putting you at more risk for health related complications?
Yes, dieting, the cure that we've been sold over and over again, has been shown to actually lead to increased health vulnerabilities.
So, if thinness isn't the cure, or the one stop prevention of scary health issues, what is?
Separating health from body size.
This is challenging work. Because much of the time, the research that shows that you can achieve health at every size, is counter culture. It pushes lots of buttons and raises lots of red flags about who and what to believe. But, I'll ask you... how has working to achieve "health" through conventional and more socially prevalent methods served you?
Ending dieting cycles and allowing your body to find it's natural set-point weight range (yes, we've all got one!).
Relearning how to trust and repair the relationship with the current body you live in.
Challenging and uprooting disordered eating behaviors.
Engaging in movement that feels good, you look forward to and is a sustainable practice (it's been proven that the relationship between physical activity and longevity is much stronger than the relationship between weight and longevity).
Engaging in health promoting behaviors- getting regular sleep, eating foods that nourish your mind and your body, working toward body acceptance, building social connections that feed you.
Taking care of your mental health.
I know how hard it is to be challenged with new information. Especially when, as a culture, we are so concerned about getting healthy, maintaining health and preventing and curing disease.
But it's imperative to be challenged so that we can learn, integrate new ways of being and ultimately grow.
And to help with that, I put together a little PDF of bullet points for you to download read over. It includes some myth busting about fatness, a brief intro to weight science, and a handful of considerations to help you understand what your setpoint weight might be.
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. How does this meet you? Where does it challenge you? Can it help you redefine what health means to you and shift you towards ways of truly moving toward that?