Summer is coming and many people are thinking of getting into shape because well, that’s what summer is about – fun in the sun. No one wants to get out there and not feel good. But what’s your primary reason for ditching the weight – overall health or getting thinner?
For most, it’s the latter reason and though that may be the most popular, it’s unfortunately not the correct approach. Below I’m going to give you seven reasons why you should focus on your health rather than weight loss.
- Diet Preoccupation – Let’s face it, many today are obsessed with dieting. but even if you read hundreds of books, blog pages or listen to experts, most are dead wrong. Their approach is not based on balance, but on forcing the body to change while subjecting it to substandard nutrition. Yes, less calories equals less weight, but it also equals less nutrition, a fact too many times glossed over. Without a high nutrition intake, the body will rebel and gain weight back quickly, mimicking studies showing dieting repeatedly causes weight gain and obesity. No wonder so few find success and so many are frustrated. That brings us to our last point!
- Guaranteed Metabolic Health Benefits? – While not all weight loss will guarantee metabolic health benefits, that’s no reason to stop trying. Good cholesterol, blood pressure, triglyceride and blood glucose numbers generally have a favourable response as the body comes back to balance with a healthy weight. Sometimes it just takes a patient approach, just as it took a while for the body to become unhealthy. Even if an obese person is generally healthy at the moment, as we age we need to take better care to preserve muscle mass and take care of our heart and organs. In general, obesity is an imbalance of the body and cannot be viewed as a favourable condition. Rather than obsess about rapid results, get busy having fun in the sun and eating right. A patient approach focused on health is always superior to rapid weight loss.
- Does Correlation Equal Causation? – Some say diseases correlated with obesity do not equal causation. While that may be true for the minority of cases, we can’t shun the mountain of scientific evidence showing obesity causing many diseases. So, focusing on health rather than weight avoids the issue because a healthy lifestyle in most cases prevents obesity.
- Outward Appearances Can Be Deceiving – although many health problems are caused by being overweight, we also know that not all health problems can be solved through weight loss. There are people who despite being overweight are generally healthy, while others are thin and unhealthy. Thin people can get all the diseases overweight people get, so obviously there are other factors at play than just weight management. That does not, however, mitigate the fact that in many cases, being overweight is a case of the body being out of balance with either too much food, the wrong types of foods or inactivity. None of these factors are known to promote longevity.
- Other Obesity Factors – Several factors have now been shown to predict the development of obesity in individuals, such as a family history, lifestyle, diet and socio-economic factors. But there are no large studies evaluating the likelihood of secondary causes of obesity in adults (Sarah Safranek, MLIS, University of Washington Health Sciences Library, Am Fam Physician. 2011 Apr 15;83(8):972-973). Secondary obesity means that you have a medical condition causing weight gain. These diseases include endocrine disorders, hypothalamic disorders and some congenital conditions, but most do not fit into this category. (John Hopkins Weight Loss Centre). There may also be environmental factors to obesity, such as hormone altering chemicals When animals are exposed prenatally to these chemicals, their metabolism is reprogrammed so that even if they are never exposed again in their lives, they gain weight, (Journal Of The National Cancer Institute). So focusing on other aspects of health (my last point on food quality), is extremely important.
- Body Conformity – If you look at the variations of body shapes and sizes worldwide, it’s hard to disagree that we cannot fit everyone into a narrow sphere of acceptable height and weight ratio. Today we’re too pre-occupied with a common standard of “body size” equalling a standard of health. That type of nonsense may sell some magazines, but it is shrouded in ignorance rather than fact. Focusing on overall health should be our primary focus, which in most cases brings us to the goal of our particular genetic body size and shape. Not everyone looks the same – some are shorter, taller, have wider shoulders or possess a pear shape. It doesn’t matter as our bodily structure does not prevent us from possessing a healthy body weight.
- Healthy Behaviours Increase Health – While health is multi-dimensional, to a large degree, it can be within our control. We have many options in a world which throws poisons at us at an alarming rate. Buying organic or eating foods grown within the boundary of our own homes should be preferred, if possible. Other than that, stick to clean, natural foods over the processed variety and cook more foods from scratch. Then get out more into the sunshine and fresh air, move your body, watch your sleep and stress levels and enjoy life despite what it throws at you.
To be honest, for most of us, nothing in life comes easy. If we’ve been negligent with our health, we now have to fight to regain it. Simply accepting weak advice that average effort or average outcomes are acceptable will only shorten your life. Statistics now tell us that 8 of 10 will die of a disease. I find this unacceptable, but still avoidable. The question is, will you fight for your health? Will you place a value on it above what is average? If so, the outcome will be amazing, both in how you feel and how you look.