How to Let Go of Weight Loss as Your Focus (and What to Shift to Instead)
Last updated: June 2022
Is your weight a factor in your health? Yeah, sure it can be.
Should changing it be the primary focus of your life? No, I don’t believe it should.
I was already of the strongly held belief that spending too much time worrying about the number on the scale can do more harm than good, and when I read the book Body Respect by Dr. Linda Bacon and Dr. Lucy Aphramor, I saw even more evidence that weight should not be the health-conscious person’s biggest concern.
Not only that, but in my personal and professional experience, I’ve seen the obsession with weight loss lead to many unintended issues, such as preoccupation with food, increased distraction from other life and family issues, and a very real fear of eating the wrong foods.
Because of this, I now strongly believe the focus for anyone who cares about their health (whether they have a pre-existing illness or want to prevent an illness from occurring), should be on overall well-being rather than striving for a particular number on the scale.
Your overall well-being is made up of a complex web of factors that are different for every individual. Generally, though, think about your social well-being, emotional and mental well-being, and even your spiritual well-being.
- Decide that you want to focus on your overall well-being rather than exclusively on your body size and shape.
- Ask yourself some questions. Do you feel like you belong? Do you have strong friendships? Do you have a purpose for getting up in the morning? Figure out which areas of your life might need a tune up right now, regardless of your size.
- Make a list of everything that you think would improve your personal well-being. This could be anything from taking your dog for a walk every day to reconnecting with your children or spouse, to going back to church after a long absence.
- Pick two of the items from your list, the ones that feel the most important to add back into your life now.
- For each of the two items, list a few things you can start doing this week to bring that element into your life. If you want to reconnect with your kids, you might write down ideas like “spend an afternoon with each child on their own this week” or “have a family movie night and let the kids pick the movie.”
- Take action. The only way to add more elements of wholeness and wellness in your life is to…actually start doing it. Of the items you wrote above, do one today. Do another one tomorrow. Start taking small steps each week until you feel a sense of balance and overall well-being.
- Make shifts and adjustments as necessary. We all wake up one day and think, “Gee, I should really be exercising more,” or, “Wow, I haven’t called my mom in a month, yikes.” It’s okay. This is a lifelong process, so keep adding to your goals and figuring out ways to add in little bits of wellness to every day.
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?