Feel good about yourself this summer and give your health a boost without needing to focus on your weight. Focusing on weight often leads to dieting or more extreme changes which are usually impossible to maintain, any weight lost in the beginning is nearly always eventually regained. You feel euphoric initially as you’re losing weight and then totally defeated and a failure when the weight comes back on.
What if there was a way to feel better about yourself and improve your health without falling into the weight loss/diet trap? Now, not focusing on weight doesn’t mean your weight won’t change, for some people it will, it’s just that any weight change is simply a side effect of changing health behaviours.
Note: For some people these change may be relatively straight forward. For others, some of these changes will be tougher, and you might require support from a skilled practitioner.
5 things you can do improve your health that don’t require a weight loss focus.
Doing any of these can also help you start to feel better about yourself.
1. Have a look at your eating habits.
- Is there anything you eat too much of or too little of?
- Do you ever find yourself over-eating or eating when you’re not hungry?
- Do you eat in response to stress, boredom or emotions?
Starting to explore and manage any of these has the potential to significantly change your eating. Any weight loss that may occur is a side effect.
2. Have a look at how active you are.
- Do you spend most of your time sitting down?
- Could you move more?
- If you don’t like formal exercise, what do you enjoy doing that doesn’t involve sitting down (or lying down)… could you do this more often?
Starting to explore any of these and move your body more has the potential to significantly increase your activity level. Remember, any weight loss that may occur is just a side effect.
3. Do you have enough connection with other people?
The relationships we have with other humans is a key determinant of health and social isolation is correlated with poorer health outcomes.
- Could you join a book club, bridge club, bowling club or walking group?
- Could you take an adult learning class or take up a hobby?
- Could you own a dog? Dogs themselves make great companions, but you can meet many people at your local dog park and become walking buddies.
Becoming more socially connected has the potential to make you feel much better about yourself and this increases your motivation to eat well and move more. Any weight loss that may occur is again, a side effect.
4. Are you getting enough sleep and rest?
Lack of sleep and rest can increase stress on its own or in addition to other stress you may be experiencing in your life.
Chronic stress can adversely affect health through effects to emotional health, brain function, immunity (more prone to viral infections e.g. colds and flus), and overtime can increase risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorders, and other illnesses.
For many people getting more sleep or rest is easier said than done, especially if you’ve got young kids or babies.
Whatever your situation, if you know you’re under stress, taking steps to address this is a fundamental part of managing your health. Try this fact sheet as a starting point for more information https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/stress
5. Are you too hard on yourself?
- Do you get mad at yourself when things go as you’d intended?
- Do you engage in negative self talk or body bashing (body hate talk)?
Practising self compassion can help you change this and actually motivate you to do make better choices. Whereas being hard on yourself often leads to the “Stuff it” mentality.
Example: You planned to go to the supermarket after work to buy food for dinner. You get caught with some last minute difficult work and by the time you finish work you’re exhausted and hungry and so you order take-away.
No self compassion: “It’s way too late to cook my own dinner, I’ve failed again, I couldn’t even manage to do this one thing!”
“I’ll have to get take-away again and it’s always too much food and I over-eat, but given I’ve stuffed up anyway may as well just eat it, plus I’m starving and so tired that I deserve it.”
Self compassion: “I’m exhausted, today was a tough day, but I got through it!” “It’s late now and I’m starving, going to the supermarket and cooking dinner will mean I’m not eating until 9pm. I’m just going to have to order in again tonight, but that’s ok, I’ll choose something with more veggies and I’ll put half aside for lunch tomorrow as they’re always such big serves.”
Feel you need help with any of these?
You might be wondering what type of health professional can help you with these aspects of health? While there are many practitioners who address these factors, choosing a health professional who works under the HAES® (Health At Every Size) paradigm is a good starting point. HAES professionals work with you to change health behaviours and address other factors that influence health without focusing on body weight.
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