by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
Here’s why you should focus less on weight loss and more on healthy habits …
Maintaining a healthy weight enhances quality-of-life and also can increase longevity. However, experts find fitness and other healthy lifestyle factors are more important than a smaller size in preventing illness, disease, and early death.
The Diet Dilemma
Diets can be an effective short-term weight-loss method. Pounds are shed, maybe even quickly. You feel better. Cardio benefits are gained, blood levels improve, and you can abandon the elastic-waist pants. For a while.
Since weight loss is the most visible outcome, the one for which many suffer through dieting, we mistakenly attribute improved health on this fact alone. “I’ve lost weight and never felt better,” people may exclaim after three months of grapefruit smoothies. However, other factors usually influence the “never felt better” outcome more than weight loss itself. These include exercise, improved nutrition, and overall increased activity. (Hey, it takes extra running around to keep the stock of fresh veggies and home-cooked meals required by most diets.)
Most weight-loss diets are extreme by nature. They have strict requirements and involve limited foods in reduced amounts. After time, boredom, practicality, and hunger lead to abandonment. You return to the kitchen with vengeance only experienced by someone deprived of ice cream one day too many.
Lucky dieters will have accomplished their weight-loss goals prior to this point. Those whose goals continue to evade them surrender at about the same time, except their empty stomachs’ growls of protest were in vain. From this point, confidence in healthy living is the only thing lost.
Healthy lifestyle factors beyond the diet also tend to get discarded with the celery sticks and cottage cheese. This is unfortunate because data increasingly finds weight is not an accurate predictor of premature death and other health risks.
- Those who live a sedentary lifestyle are more than twice as likely to die prematurely as those who are overweight but exercise moderately.
- Those who are defined as obese and fit are only slightly more at risk of premature death than their healthy-weight and fit counterparts.
- Exercise improves health, regardless of its effect on the scale.
What This Means
It’s time to shift our mindset. Share the new conviction being expressed in our culture: Strong is the new skinny. Being overweight or obese is not solely unhealthy. It can be linked to other unhealthy factors, such as heart disease and diabetes – all of which can be helped by exercise, even if you don’t realize a drop in body weight.
Live a healthy lifestyle for the health of it! Exercise, connect with others, be mindful, practice stress-relief, and develop proper sleep hygiene. Enjoy wholesome, healthy foods without depriving yourself of treats.
Focus on wellness. Unconditionally commit to fitness. That is how to cultivate a healthy body and mind—and, eventually, a healthy weight.
Considered by themselves, smoking, high blood pressure, low income, and loneliness are stronger predictors of premature death than obesity. Low fitness levels are more responsible for deaths in the United States than obesity alone. And that’s more powerful motivation to work out than any pair of skinny jeans.
“Dieting Versus Healthy Habits,” by Dr. Sandra Aamodt, Costco Connection magazine, author of Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession with Weight Loss,
Orange on plate: pixabay.com/en/remove-orange-fruit-nutrition-1388782/
iPad surfing: pixabay.com/en/person-surfing-internet-tablet-1267760/
Woman with weights: pixabay.com/en/weights-women-dumbbell-gym-obverse-1621270/