Focusing on My Health — Not My Weight

iStock_000019612947SmallI have a kind of love/hate relationship with diet and exercise. I’m often stuck in a cycle that involves me losing and gaining the same 10 pounds over and over again. However, over the last few months I’ve started focusing more on my health, rather than concentrating on my weight.

While I haven’t seen the kind of weight loss I see when I just go for it with the idea of reaching a target weight, I have made steady progress. Plus, I feel better and I think the changes I’m making are more likely to “stick.”

Focus on Quick, Temporary Solutions

In the past, when I’ve focused on my weight, it’s more about quick, temporary solutions. I want to lose 10 pounds in two weeks so that I fit into a dress for an event, or so that I look good for a family reunion. I restrict my calorie intake and exercise like crazy for two to four weeks, and I hit the target weight.

However, these quick, temporary solutions don’t last. I’ve been starving myself, so I’m hungry, and once I reach my goal, I start eating again. Additionally, the exercise done is not sustainable because I don’t really have that much time long-term to devote to exercise each day. So I slack off, and I’m eating more, and in no time the 10 pounds is back. I coast along for a few months, keeping things steady, until something comes up and I suddenly want to lose 10 pounds again.

These temporary solutions don’t last, and I’ve found that the more this cycle repeats itself, and the older I get, the less effective the measures are. It takes longer — and it takes more work — to see the same results.

So, a few months ago, I decided to change my approach. I made it more about my health and less about my weight.

Gradual, Long-Term Lifestyle Changes

Instead of focusing on my weight and short-term attempts to reach a particular weight, I started looking at my overall health. What could I do to make long-term changes that would result in a healthier lifestyle, as well as in more energy? It’s also important to stay in good health in the United States since it’s so expensive to take care of yourself if you get sick.

I started looking at how I could make time for exercise every day. At first, it meant just getting some exercise in each day — even if it was only 10 minutes of yoga. I made it a point to start eating healthier as well. My husband and I discussed our food choices and started replacing the unhealthy things in our home with healthier foods.

One thing I noticed was this: Healthier foods have much fewer calories, and so I could eat more of them. This isn’t an amazing revelation; it’s mostly common sense. However, it seemed surprising to me when I realized that I could get full eating a nice, big salad, and not have nearly the calories in some processed meal bought in the frozen-foods section.

We even changed the junk food we bought. We switched to healthier options, like lentil chips. It’s not a huge upgrade, but it is still better than greasy potato chips. I’ve always liked dark chocolate, so I don’t have to stop eating that. But I do need to exercise portion control.

Making small, gradual changes really helped my family live healthier. Plus, it’s been sustainable. I’ve increased the amount of time I spend exercising to at least 30 minutes a day, and we rarely eat red meat more than once a month.

The Weight Follows

As a result of these small, gradual changes, my weight is following suit. I’m not losing as fast as I would like, but when I get discouraged, I look at the inches I’ve lost off my waist and hips, as well as the fact that I’m developing a little better muscle tone. The weight isn’t as important if I’m developing a little lean muscle mass.

In a few more weeks, I’ll be back down to my target weight. But this time, I’m unlikely to gain it all back, since I’ll be living a healthier lifestyle. And this lifestyle comes with other perks: I’m more productive and energetic as well.


Focusing on My Health — Not My Weight — 13 Comments

  1. Miranda, same over here. Except that the older I get the harder it is to hit short term targets as well – somehow the will to do it ebbs away and you start finding excuses like ‘well, I am fifty after all’. Which, of course, is loads of BS.

    I am reading a very interesting book on how to make micro-resolutions. I’ll try this one: it is all about changing your behaviour one step at the time and forming persistent habits.

    • That’s a great idea, Maria! I like the idea of micro-resolutions and going one step at a time to change a habit, rather than trying to tackle it all at once.

    • I’ve never had success with buying any sort of product. I get the most success, and it’s more long term, when I go for the slow results. Of course, even then I tend to see it creep up on me. Have you had your thyroid checked? In some cases, there are biological issues at play. My family has a history of thyroid problems and several of my female relatives have been able to manage their weight with help from thyroid control.

    • Why just take Garcinia Cambogia of Dr Oz. It really works out great for me, relatively risk free and yet particularly effectively. It is the most well-received nutritional supplements used by the broad public for losing weight.

      • Very good advice. I personally have lost a lot of weight (more than 15 lbs) since getting gastritis and I can’t seem to shake it off, but otherwise I would agree that focusing on good habits in the long run should reap dividends.

  2. I saw a facebook meme recently that said, “I’m not training to be skinny, I’m training to be bad ass.” If you make permanent lifestyle changes through what you eat and how you exercise, everything else will fall into place.

  3. I think your focus on small changes is a great way to tackle your long term goal of being healthy. I walked with my husband through his journey from 400lbs to 180lbs, and I can tell you, it was the everyday small health decisions that added up to a sustainable loss. Keep up the great progress, and feel free to read about our journey to health over at our site.

    Keep up the steady progress!


  4. Yep, I can totally relate!

    My body changed when I had kids and I’m afraid things are never going to “go back” the way they once were. I’ve made my peace with that I suppose.

    • That is one issue. There are things that will not “go back.” My hips widened. That’s a change that I will never “recover” from. It changes some of the things I can wear and the way I look, no matter what happens with my weight, or muscle mass, or anything else. There are some cases that you have to make peace with your changing appearance, whether it’s aging or permanent pregnancy changes.

  5. I noticed I lost a bit of weight when I switched to a vegan diet. It also saved me money as I didn’t need to buy expensive meats like chicken. It was more for health reasons rather than losing weight but it was a surprise. I run long distance so weight isn’t an issue but if it was I’d focus on my diet. I read somewhere that it’s not about the one hour you spend in the gym, it’s about the other 23 hours you spend while outside the gym.

  6. It’s what you have to do. When I was younger, I cared much more about appearances (both physical and financial) than I do now. I would rather have a healthy body and healthy bank account than a flashy but non functional one of either.

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