How to Focus on Health, Not Weight

Being healthy, wanting to eat better, and become more physically fit are all worthy goals. However, if these goals are too wrapped up in the desire to lose weight, they can end up doing more harm than good. In fact, it’s very hard to tell how healthy someone is by their size or even their BMI.

If all your eating and exercise plans are connected to losing weight, you may not actually be making the healthiest choices for your body, not to mention your mental health. But unlearning these ideas is easier said than done – so here are some tips for how to focus more on health than weight.

Set Positive Goals

Of course, if you want to stop obsessing about the number on the scale, it goes without saying that your fitness goals should not be based on weight. But goals are still an important part of staying motivated – so instead of basing your goals on the weight or inches, you want to lose, think more about what you want to gain.

This might be as specific as being able to run 5km in half an hour, or it could be something more general, like feeling stronger or having more energy. The point is to think about what you really want to get out of a regular workout practice – and to make that something other than shedding kilos.

Eat For, Not Against 

Very similarly to the tip above, when deciding what to eat, think about what the food will give you rather than what you want to avoid. Sure, things like excess sugar, salt, and saturated fats aren’t good for your body, but eating foods based on what they don’t have can also lead to unhealthy choices. For example, sugar-free processed foods often contain artificial sweeteners that may be worse than sugar in some ways. Our bodies need all kinds of nutrients, and that includes fats and carbohydrates.

A better way to choose foods is to think about what your body needs. For example, we need things like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. If you make sure that the food you eat contains enough of the good stuff, you will naturally eat less of the things that are bad for you. But if you really want a slice of cake or a packet of crisps occasionally, let yourself have it – depriving yourself is not a healthy choice either.

Slow Down and Listen

The healthiest people are highly attuned to their bodies’ needs and how different foods and activities make them feel. This takes practice, and if you have always decided what to eat based on numbers and percentages, you will be very out of practice in terms of listening to your body’s signals.

The first step is to try to eat only when you are hungry and stop when you feel full. Then, try to notice how you feel an hour or so after eating something – do you feel energized and awake, or sluggish and bloated?

Try to eat what makes you feel good like when you spend time at avoid things that make you feel bad. Not everyone reacts to the same foods in the same way – there is no one perfect diet that works for everyone. If you get to the point where you can really tell what your body needs and how different foods have affected you, you are well on your way to a healthy lifestyle.