Has your determination to lose weight created the perfect storm of guilt, food dissatisfaction and unhealthy body image that follows you around?
As a dietitian with a health-driven nutrition practice, it’s a daily occurrence for someone to come to me with one goal in mind. The conversation usually rolls out like this – I ask, “What can I help with?”
They reply “I have to lose weight.”
I usually follow this with, “Why?”
They usually pause, ponder, then respond with something like, “So I can fit into my smaller clothes again.”
I ask again, “Why do you want to fit into your smaller clothes?” and they pause and think again before replying something to the tune of, “So I can feel good again.”
Bingo! Now we’re getting somewhere.
What I’ve found over the years is that focusing on weight loss can be extremely frustrating when your ultimate goal is to feel good again. Can weight loss help with this? Yes. Is it the only way to achieve feeling good again? Absolutely not. Keep in mind you can lose weight and still feel horrible, too.
Ultimately, the underlying goal that people have is to feel good again. And when did they feel good? When they were younger, lighter and had less pain, and the world was their oyster. It’s that moment in time that freezes in each of our minds as being “our best self.”
Well, fast forward 20 to 40 years, and feeling good seems further and further away. But it doesn’t have to be. Simply shifting your focus from weight loss to optimal body health (yes, you can achieve this in your 50s, 60s, and 70s, people) can give you the energy and refreshed motivation you need. It also allows you to take time to achieve your goal while learning what foods are best to feed your body for this moment in your life.
Better health includes looking beyond just your weight to other markers of health such as lower diabetes risk, healthier cholesterol numbers and an inflammation – and pain-free body. To clarify, if you drop the weight, many of these markers will improve. However, it all depends on how you drop the weight. If you crash diet, your ability to sustain the weight loss is slim (no pun intended) and your improvement and excitement will be short lived.
A better way to understand what your health goal should be is to do a quick web search to learn about and use a SMART goal setting process. This goal setting method has been shown to produce results, focus and motivation you need to take daily action toward your goal.
Shifting your focus from weight loss to total-body health has the potential to be a game changer for your motivation and your ability to make healthier food choices long term. Put in the time and the effort to ponder and figure out your true, underlying goal or “why” for losing weight. Then create a SMART goal that focuses on that ... instead of the number on the scale.
Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield and offers virtual-coaching options. She can be reached at 444-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.