It’s Health Coach Week so I want to take some time to talk about weight loss vs. wellness and health. The two may seem to go hand-in-hand, but in fact, that’s not always true. In my many years of health coaching, I’ve seen how weight loss can become a distraction from wellness rather than a means to it.
In an ideal world (at least for me and my clients), we strive to make improvements and better ourselves through healthy lifestyle changes in the area of eating, exercise, meditation, meal planning and beyond. The side effect of those healthy changes can and should be weight loss — if your body needs it.
On the flip side, when the driving force is weight loss and only weight loss, you can get the opposite outcome. With a hyper-focus on losing weight, we’ll do anything to make it happen: juice cleanses, cutting calories, fad diets, insane workouts and anything else you can think of. I don’t mean to sound casual about this because these drastic weight loss measures can truly damage your relationship with food.
One client comes to mind who, after a lifetime of dieting starting when she was ten years old, needed to do some deep and difficult work with me on reversing her unhealthy mindset around weight and food before we could get to the work of making lasting lifestyle changes.
When weight loss becomes a distraction from wellness, the risk of creating more imbalance can have the opposite effect. Putting stress on your body both physically and mentally isn’t a sound weight loss strategy. In fact, many people find they actually gain or maintain weight under these circumstances.
Has weight loss become a distraction from wellness for you?
Here are five questions to ask yourself:
One //Do you harbor extreme dislike or shame about your body?
Two //Do you have a tendency to categorize foods as “good” or “bad”?
Three // Have you had the same weight loss goal for a year or longer or do you gain and lose weight repeatedly?
Four //Are you unhappy or incomplete in other areas of your life (career, relationships, finances, creatively)?
Five // Do you feel sick and tired regardless of whether you eat healthy, exercise or have lost weight?
If you answered “yes” to many of these questions and feel that weight loss has become a distraction from true wellness, start with changing your relationship with food.
My client, Yvonne, is the perfect example. Having dieted and lost weight, then gained it back before, she wanted lasting weight loss, but more importantly, she wanted to feel better. As a high school administrator, she had demanding days and also a busy social life and she realized that if she didn’t make some changes now, her career and her personal life were threatening to slow her down in more ways than one. With her diet mentality a thing of the past, we worked on making changes to her food and lifestyle: meal planning, getting her into a consistent exercise routine and learning how to have fun and relax while enjoying food, but without making it the focal point.
With my help and that of a personal trainer, Yvonne achieved her weight loss goal of 20 pounds and she’s still going. She loves her job, she’s in a healthy relationship and she fully enjoys her life. The key is that her healthy habits are a part of her lifestyle and she’s no longer looking to food for fulfillment in her life.
This article in Women’s Health Magazine features me and two of my clients, including Yvonne, plus other inspiring women sharing the food advice that changed our lives.
It’s never too late to learn how to eat like your life depends on it, because it absolutely does!