4 reasons why we shouldn’t focus on weight loss

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Two 10 year old girls. One short. One tall. Both perfect!

I was asked today why I don’t promote weight loss in my clinic. The answer was a long one, but I thought I would share it here too!

As many of you likely know, I am a registered dietitian and run my own private practice and I make a bit of a deal about not focusing on weight lossπŸ’―

Many of us have a number on that scale that we focus on and perceive to be the “best” – for whatever reason.

Maybe we were happiest at that weight, we liked how we felt at that body size or maybe it’s a weight we haven’t been for years (or ever) but we feel that’s our ‘best weight” and everything will be brilliant when that number pops up when we step on the scale.

πŸ’œ Often that number is ridiculously small. And almost always that number will not give us what we are looking for.

We are told in every sphere of our lives that we (especially women and girls, but also men and boys) that we need to look a certain way, thinner, less wrinkled, smooth skin, younger etc.

And the beauty and diet industry make billions of dollars brain washing us into believing we need to fix things that don’t actually need fixing πŸ€―πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

This whole industry makes me furious! And I refuse to add to the grief, pain feelings of inadequacy, stigma, shame and discrimination that many people face because of how they look. That’s reason one.

Reason 2 – Studies show that if we follow the 4 health behaviours:

πŸ‰ eating 5+ a day
not smoking
πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈexercising regularly
🍸🍹not drinking too much🍷🍾

That our health outcomes are the same regardless of our body size.

πŸ™ So we KNOW that if we have good eating behaviour’s, move our body etc we will improve our health outcomes πŸ’―

Reason 3 – So many factors affect our weight. Many of them out of our control, such as:
πŸ§“ age
🚻 gender
β˜„genetics
πŸ”ž growth stage (puberty, menopause etc)
πŸ—Ί socio-economic determinants of health such as poverty, income, food availability, food accessibility, discrimination, racism, access to health care etc

We can’t really control our weight at all and you definitely can’t say: “tomorrow I’m going to do the latest gym challenge and lose 40 kgs in 12 weeks”.

But you CAN say,
πŸ’œ “I’m going to increase my vegetable servings,”
πŸ’œ “I’m going to eat less takeaways and when I do eat them I will get my favourites and enjoy them,”
πŸ’œ “I’m going to go to yoga three times a week” or
πŸ’œ “I’m going to join a social netball team”

These are things you CAN actually goalify and do.πŸ’―

Reason 4 – Focusing on weight loss, especially if doing a restrictive diet, can lead to feelings of guilt and shame.

Many people have dieted and when they have not been able to follow that diet in some way this has led to feelings of shame, guilt and failure. For some this spirals into diet thinking of “good” and “bad” foods, of weight cycling (weight loss then weight gain put on repeat). these patterns can turn into disordered eating. when people have disordered eating they lose the joy in foods and eating, they ignore their internal hunger cues and they have patterns of behaviour that may are harmful such as starving themselves, severe restriction, excessive exercise, binge eating, loss of control with eating and purging behaviours.

And this is not uncommon. Dieting is one of the biggest predictors of developing an eating disorder and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Many of my clients come to my clinic and they still want to aim for weight loss. That is OK it is your right to choose to do that. Your body – your rules! But we don’t focus on it, for all of the above reasons. Your spiritual, mental, physical, nutritional and emotional health are all equally important and there is no point in eating in a way that makes you miserable.

But if you are ready to change how you feel about your body and you are wanting a different way of doing things then chuck out your scales and get in touch! Because you are worth more than what ever number is on that scale and you deserve to nourish your body and enjoy your food experience!πŸ’œ

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