As you probably know by now, I’m not a dietitian who supports dieting or classifying us as being healthy or unhealthy based on body size or weight alone. I’m a HAES dietitian who supports intuitive and mindful eating practices. That being said, I still get a lot of questions regarding weight loss. Why can’t I lose weight?! Time and time again, this is the age-old question people present to dietitians and health professionals. So here are some points I’d like to make regarding this topic. Maybe this will address some of your own questions about weight and wellness, and maybe it will help to set you on the right path to achieving health.
1. You may or may not actually need to lose weight.
Though you may want to lose weight at this point, you may or may not need to lose weight. I believe in set-point theory, which argues that we each have a certain weight (or weight range) that is best for our body. It is predetermined as a biofeedback mechanism. We can fight against it, but that only harms our body in the sense that it is then out of its homeostasis.
Perhaps you are uncomfortable with your current weight or body shape, but that does not necessarily mean that you need to lose weight. Perhaps you need to work on body image and acceptance. Perhaps you need to begin meditating and focusing on your inner being. These are a few things that may need to be addressed. But perhaps your weight is right where it should be.
2. Weight is not an objective goal.
You cannot control your weight. You cannot control your weight. You cannot control your weight. Absorb that, understand that, believe that. Because it’s 100% true. If I asked you to lose 25 pounds by tomorrow morning, could you? No. If I asked you to lose 50 pounds by next month, could you? Maybe, maybe not. Ultimately, you do not have control over your weight. Conversely, your weight may have control over you.
IF weight loss were a healthy process for your body, then it would happen once you recognized and changed other areas of your health status. For example, if you are eating foods that make you feel sick, contribute to an illness that you have, cause you to binge in the evenings, and make you feel sleepy and listless every day, then changing your eating habits to improve your health status may also result in weight loss. But what was your main goal? To feel good and improve your health-not to lose weight.
Weight loss is a by-product of health for those who actually need to lose weight. Another individual may actually need to gain some weight. Or perhaps they are already at the right weight for their body. And in the process of finding better health, your weight may flux, and that is okay, too.
3. Focus on your health.
As I mentioned, focusing on your health and well-being is the MOST important aspect of nutrition. It’s not about weight. This is why HAES is so dear to my heart 🙂
Some questions you may want to ask yourself include:
- Are you getting regular periods? (females)
- Are your hormones in natural balance, and if not, why not?
- Do you have diabetes, and if so, is it under control without complications?
- Can you walk a mile without breathing difficulties?
- Do you have arthritis or frequent joint pain?
These are just a few topics that may need addressing through your nutritional status.
4. STOP dieting!
Dieting doesn’t work-we know this by now. More and more studies demonstrate this (and no, I’m not referring the latest Biggest Loser mini study. That’s a topic for another time.) Many studies show that diets tend to cause more weight gain the long run. They are not sustainable. Calories in do NOT equal calories out. Dieting fosters feelings of guilt, frustration, and insecurity which then perpetuates the dieting mentality all over again. Deprivation leads to bingeing. Dieters often isolate to avoid food situations, which again leads to negative emotions and mindset. Diets of any kind just don’t work.
5. There are so many other factors to consider when it comes to your health.
- Social and family life
- Work constraints
- Mental/ emotional health
- Stress level
- Life stage (not age, but stage of life, such as college, beginning a new career, new parent, retirement. Each stage effects our bodies differently.)
The point is, WEIGHT is not the problem. If you are morbidly obese and in need of weight loss to improve your overall health status, then again, it’s really not your weight that is the problem, it’s whatever caused your weight to rise above your set-point. And figuring that piece out is the key to regaining your wellness. Extremes are not healthy, and being outside of your individual set-point weight* is an extreme for your body. When your body feels that it needs to fight to remain in homeostasis, it will, and it will perceive this state as being a threat. And thus, your stress or cortisol levels will remain chronically elevated, which causes more weight gain and illness.
Questions? Email me! NashvilleNutritionist@gmail.com
*Set-point weight is not the same as BMI ranges.
A few pics – a delicious vegan dish (of brown rice, bell peppers, carrots, tempeh, olive oil and balsamic), Baby B found his feet!, and the husband and me in Clearwater Beach 🙂 Happy living, ya’ll! ❤