By Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD President & Co-owner, Green Mountain at Fox Run
It may seem ironic, but to reach your healthy weight, you’re better off forgetting about your weight. This means stepping off the scale, losing the tape measure, and banishing BMI.
The problem with focusing only on numbers is that for the average person, health gets lost in the process.
Consider these commonly-occurring situations.
- Michaela, 19, weighs in at “overweight” on the BMI scale. Her doctor encourages her to lose a few pounds in the interest of her health, even though she is perfectly healthy according to other medical measures. She starts restricting carbohydrates and loses a few pounds. But she finds herself thinking about and craving carbs more and more and starts eating any she can get her hands on. She gains more weight than she lost, and starts another restrictive diet. A lifelong battle with weight has begun, and it’s a battle that commonly creates health problems.
- Jake, 45, is diagnosed with pre-diabetes. His doctor tells him the remedy is to lose weight. To make that happen, Jake starts eating healthier and exercising regularly, but the scale doesn’t budge. It seems that these lifestyle changes don’t impact his weight, so why even bother? He returns to his sedentary lifestyle.
Ironically, if the intent is to become healthier, a focus on your weight commonly has the opposite effect because health and a healthy weight are not dependent on arbitrary numbers. They are based on how you feel and other measures of health, such as levels of blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and more.
Ultimately, how you feel is likely your best individual measure of wellbeing. And that’s a big bonus because if the lifestyle changes you make help you feel better, you’re more likely to continue them.
Changes That Truly Help You Be Healthy
- Eating according to internal cues for hunger and satisfaction and discovering food you enjoy that makes you feel great and leaves you feeling well after you eat it.
- Physical activity that connects you to the pleasure that can be found in moving your body regularly.
- Accepting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
- Peace of mind that comes from knowing that a life well lived, not a number on a scale or the size of your clothing, is your best foundation for health and happiness.