This is something I feel like a lot of people who are new to non-diet and intuitive eating approaches ponder. Let’s take some time to unpack it together. The message that weight loss and thinness = health is everywhere. If you take some time to look around at what bodies are portrayed in media / social media as healthy you will most likely find that they tend to be thin and perhaps sometimes muscular as “healthy” bodies and anything else that deviate from this is seen as “unhealthy”.
Of course it seems natural then, to feel like health has a specific look.
But what if we dived a little deeper… We simply cannot tell anyone’s health by looking at them. What we see, and perhaps judge is just a measure of our own confirmation bias.
Size diversity is real. And so is internalised weight stigma / fat phobia.
Someone might have a thin / smaller body due to genetics. Weight loss may occur due to going through illness, having and eating disorder / chronic dieting, experiencing high levels of stress or trauma.
Someone else might have a larger body because of their genetics. Weight gain might occur because of medication, illness, hormonal changes, eating disorder recovery and other reasons.
There is a great chart here that shows all of the myriad of factors that contribute to body composition.
Can we expand our thinking about what health is to go way beyond body size?
And before we do this, I want to say that I don’t believe that thinness = health and that I also don’t believe that health = worthiness. I believe that ALL bodies are worthy of care and respect irrespective of how healthy they are, and I would love for us all to create a world where ALL bodies are treated as such.
The concept of health can be broadened to include not just physical health but also mental and emotional health. If we have to sacrifice mental / emotional health to achieve physical health, is that really healthy?
When the intention is to pursue weight loss at all costs the interventions tend to stop being health promoting. Same when things like what we eat or how we move is taken to extremes. More is usually not better…
Let’s come back to the original question: If you stop pursuing weight loss, does that mean that you have stopped caring about yourself? Well does it?
You might have been over-exercising, skipping meals (only to binge later) or finding yourself struggling with lack of concentration and anxiety because your body is under-fed all in the name of “health” (aka thinness).
What if instead you were working towards letting go of restrictive food rules, eating regularly so that you have better executive functioning and allowing your body to rest when it needs to without guilt?
The thing is that when we let go of pursuing weight loss and trying to shrink our bodies at all costs we are free to reap any benefits that comes with taking care of our bodies with eating enough food, enjoying a wide variety of food, rest when we need it and movement when and in ways that feels good and enjoyable regardless of how this affects our weight.
Your body may change or it may stay the same, but it doesn’t matter because you will feel more energised, have more capacity to deal with life and sleep more soundly.
So if you stopped pursuing weight loss as a goal, and focused on taking care of the body you have right now? How would that feel and what would you do differently?
I invite you to take some time to think about it, feel in to it and perhaps even journal on it.
And if you like, feel free to share your thoughts too, by leaving a comment!