There’s a common misconception that you can’t be “healthy” until you’ve reached some idealized weight. This is unfortunate because as 20 years of studying human disease has taught me, many small choices influence our health for the good, no matter your weight.
When you believe that you can’t achieve a healthier body until reaching your idealized weight, it robs you and your health of the many benefits of the small actions and choices you make daily. When you see your health as a far-off goal it can prevent you from making these smaller choices. In fact, I believe this misconception and overemphasis on weight loss is a major contributing factor to the high rate of weight loss failure. Don’t get me wrong, body fat is a factor in disease risk, but the overemphasis on weight loss is leading to inaction that directly impacts your health.
A shift in perspective is necessary to move from a mindset of weight loss to a mindset of health (e.g. eating for health not eating for weight loss). When you change your perspective and start to make choices based on health as a whole rather than weight loss as a fraction of the whole, you begin to benefit from the little choices that can have an immediate, positive influence on your health.
What are these small choices? Here are a couple of common examples I see with my clients:
- Overindulgence that leads to fasting – this is a double whammy for the body. First, the body is hit with a high dose of (usually) processed foods that increase inflammation and then second, starved of the nutrition it needs to manage the increased inflammation (e.g.,. fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals). Overindulging is going to happen, don’t punish your body!
- Thinking a little exercise will have no impact on your weight loss so why bother. Walking an extra few minutes, climbing an extra flight of stairs or doing a few exercises while sitting at your desk can all give your body a little burst of healthy goodness. Sure, you might not see this extra bit of exercise reflected on your scale, but if you could see inside your body, you’d see the extra level of anti-inflammatory chemicals being released
The key here is that the small choices that you may pass on because you think it won’t help your weight loss can actually influence your health. Your body is highly dynamic, adjusting every second to keep itself in balance. What you choose to do or not to do immediately changes that balance; stress hormones, insulin levels, inflammatory chemicals, etc. So the next time you’re tempted to skip a serving of broccoli or pass on the stairs and take the elevator, think again and do your body a favor!
Until next time, stay well!
Dr. Tobi Schmidt