Weight loss or striving for a certain aesthetic aren’t things I encourage myself or my clients to solely focus on. When my clients adopt a whole food, plant-based diet natural weight loss is an outcome. But I really want my clients and myself to look at the whole picture when in comes to health. It’s important to learn about our bodies and why practicing a healthy, sustainable lifestyle is important to prevent and reverse disease and other health issues.
Not only that but focusing only on getting to a certain look or size are so heavily emphasized in the media already which has many negative side-effects on our mental health. Focusing solely on weight loss doesn’t necessarily lead to long-term health.
If the main focus becomes being a certain size or looking a particular way, too often health gets thrown out the window or gets confused with true healthy habits. For example, one can lose weight by restricting calories, not eating at all, over-exercising (especially when already tired), exercising to “undo” a particular meal that was eaten, weight loss pills, appetite suppressors (in the form of cigarettes, supplements, and even appetite suppressing lollipops), going from one trendy diet to the next, or using cocaine; that took a turn, didn’t it? None of these are good ideas, beneficial, or sustainable in the long run. If we only want to lose weight or look a certain way, we may be persuaded into adopting unhealthy habits to achieve that.
Instead, I work to help my client’s focus more on what’s going on inside our bodies. Is there perhaps an underlying condition that has led to weight gain or that may be making it hard to lose weight such as blood sugar handling issues? Is there metabolic damage from years of undereating. By helping client’s to instead address the root cause by making healthy lifestyle and diet changes, weight loss will be a side-effect among many other benefits.
It is not wrong to want to lose weight or achieve a certain look. I would never shame someone for wanting those things. We all want to look our best! But I do want to encourage people to reframe their mindset around those ideas. We should be focused on our inside health first. Our outside health will then follow. Together we can continue to move the conversation from weight and image to gaining health, vitality, and energy that will be sustainable and last us a lifetime.
It can be a challenge to not want to change our bodies to fit a (fake) ideal. Just open up your Instagram account or grab a mainstream magazine off the store shelf. You will likely be bombarded with tanned and toned bodies with words that make us believe these people are healthy. And maybe some of them are leading a healthy lifestyle that plays a role in how they look. But I know many are also using unhealthy tactics to achieve that look. They may not be eating anything before the photo is taken. They utilize photoshop or filters or taper their water consumption to appear more cut. Many are over-exercising and under-eating and using certain angles when taking photos. When putting the focus on aesthetics we may get caught in a cycle of unhealthy patterns to manipulate our body into looking a certain way instead of focusing on overall health, both in our body and mind.
I spent about 5 years over-exercising and undereating to get my body to look a certain way. While I did lose (too much) weight and appeared “toned”, I was not healthy. I suffered from poor mental health in the form of major mood swings, anxiety, and depression. I dealt with digestive issues daily, sleep issues, and my fingernails were super flimsy. I thought protein powder was a health food; it’s not. I thought I had to “earn” my carbs through a workout; I didn’t and you don’t. I also didn’t menstruate for 4 years because I didn’t have enough body fat which is a big deal. My body was telling me point blank that I was not healthy. It’s important for women to maintain at least a bit of body fat to have a healthy menstrual cycle, good brain function, healthy skin and nails, and body temperature regulation.
I was putting aesthetics over physical and mental health but not anymore! I healed myself of all of those things through a plant-based diet and am more comfortable in my skin than I ever was at a smaller size.
I’ll finish with these final thoughts.
Health works from the inside out. You can not base someone’s health by their outside image. You can be lean, small, toned, or skinny and be unhealthy or healthy. You can be larger, curvy, overweight and be healthy or unhealthy. My point is health comes from the inside out. If you are consistent with following a healthy lifestyle that includes mostly whole plant-based foods, your body will follow naturally. Your body will land at a naturally healthy weight and be able to prevent and reverse many health issues.
A long life doesn’t come from looking a certain way. It comes from living in a way that makes you feel good, gives you energy, helps you sleep well, provides good brain function and even moods. It comes from eating right so you can have a healthy heart, a healthy mind, and good blood sugar regulation, just to name a few.
Being healthy is in.