I’ve been pondering on this blog post for a while. I haven’t had much more written other than ‘Life is about much more than what you weigh’ and ‘your weight does not indicate your health’.
So I guess what has got me thinking about writing another blog post on this topic is the most recent Dietitian’s Association of Australia (DAA) ‘Australia’s healthy weight week’ campaign (with my recent attendance at an Eating Disorders workshop hitting the nail on the head).
I absolutely applaud the DAA for this years campaign. The theme for this years campaign was to get people in the kitchen and cooking at home more often. This is exactly what I am all about. In fact, recently on my Instagram I’ve been trying to post more photos of my home cooked meals to show in fact, healthy does not have to be hard.
But what I didn’t like about the campaign?
The title unsettles me. I feel about it the way some people (not me FYI) feel about pineapple in curries and on a pizza. It’s not quite right. You see, what is a healthy weight?
I have become a believer that a healthy weight is not where you fit within the healthy weight range. I see your healthy weight as one which you can maintain by filling your body with nourishing foods, but also enjoy a dinner with friends full of entrees, mains and desserts with all the bells and whistle. A weight which you can maintain by engaging in a regular exercise which you actually enjoy doing, but you can also miss a day because your body needs an extra hour sleep or you’re on a nice weekend away. A weight at which you get enough sleep, manage your stress and eat with joy.
But actually, I think I also like the title. It’s got people talking. Talking more about weight, the weight stigma & what actually is a healthy weight. It’s providing us an opportunity to focus on developing positive lifestyle behaviours, rather than just focusing on the number on the $20 Kmart digital scales.
You see the thing with focusing on weight is that the more we do that, the more we encourage people to turn to dieting in a move to achieve that ‘healthy weight’.
Yet diets don’t actually work. I know this, you know this. Heck, we all know this and yet, we still look for the magic bullet.
The practice of dieting can actually make you more preoccupied with food, cause you to binge eat and eat in the absence of hunger. It also increases your body’s tendency to gain weight. Yes, gain. In fact, studies have shown that 1/3-2/3 of dieters regain more weight than they lost on their diets. Then the cycle of weight loss and weight regain can lead to distraction from your other health goals and cause reduced self-esteem, poor body image and eating disorders. Not to mention, this focus we as a society have on weight has lead to the unnecessary weight stigmatisation & discrimination experienced daily by many.
Yet really, what the scales show you is the numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. It does not measure your beauty, character, talents, strength, what you can offer the world and what people love you for.
And alone, it is not an indicator of poor health.
You know that friend you have that doesn’t touch a vegetable, eats takeaway food every day, parties all weekend, wouldn’t know what a kettle bell was & still wears small jeans than you?
What about that friend that moves her body daily, enjoys nourishing foods, has a healthy relationship with food and yet the only thing suggesting poor health is a BMI in the overweight category?
Well, the science is actually showing that you can be overweight and healthy, and within a desired weight range and unhealthy.
I understand that after so many years of people telling us to be within the healthy weight range, this may all seem a little crazy & a little challenging to digest. But hey, this is what the science is showing now.
So today I’m joining the conversation on weight and I’m challenging you to start focusing more on your health and developing positive lifestyle behaviours, rather than your weight. Because personally, focusing on the number on the scales can really suck, and I strongly believe it’s time we as a society change our mindset around health and weight.
We shouldn’t just be exercising to lose or maintain our weight, and we shouldn’t just improve our eating pattern to help lose weight.
We need to recognise that positive lifestyle behaviours are not just for weight, but for so many other areas of our health.
Say for example, sticking with the theme, cooking at home. This allows you to be in control of what’s on your plate, save you money, spend time with your family at the table, you can get your children involved and teach them those core skills which are going to ensure they can cook a healthy, balanced meal when they fly the coup. And you know what, maybe you’ll find that your weight benefits from this too.
So here’s to focusing more on positive eating and lifestyles behaviours such as cooking at home, eating intuitively, enjoying your exercise or getting enough sleep, and less focus on losing 3.2kg in a week.
FYI – this years AHWW cookbook ‘Everyday Healthy: II Seasonal, Fresh & Tasty’ is packed full of delicious recipes (I can vouch for that) and downloadable here.