But I Have to Lose Weight for My Health

“Intuitive Eating sounds all well and good, but I can’t do it. I NEED to lose weight...it’s necessary for my health.”

If I had a nickel….

This statement assumes that:

  1. Losing weight is possible

  2. Losing weight will improve your health

  3. You’re a special unicorn for whom the rules don’t apply

There’s a lot of evidence that losing weight and keeping it off isn’t possible for most people -- you really need look no further than your own experience, most likely. And each attempt to lose weight messes with your metabolism and appetite over the long term -- it’s not a benign act.

I won’t bore you with data, because there are people much better at explaining science than I am (check out Health at Every Size or Body Respect, by Linda Bacon), but let’s talk about why focusing on weight loss derails you from your actual goals.

Being “overweight” is shameful in our culture. Being told you need to lose weight is much more than a health issue -- it’s hurtful and embarrassing.

Additionally, there’s the possibility that losing weight won’t even improve your health -- having “overweight” correlated with health problems does not determine what caused what. For example, it’s not clear that being overweight causes diabetes rather than the predisposition for diabetes causing weight gain.

My point is: it’s not cut and dried. This is not a black and white issue. And with all the shame and stigma about being overweight in our society, it’s about much more than health.

If you really do want to improve your health, then you should focus on BEHAVIORS that actually improve health. Exercise, fruits and vegetables, water, stress management, emotional support...these things DO improve health.

Being “overweight” isn’t a behavior.

Focusing on weight loss to improve health is like putting Neosporin on a bullet wound -- it really misses the point.


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Teddey HicksComment