Written on March 19, 2023 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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In today's society, there is often a lot of emphasis on weight loss and achieving a certain body shape. However, remember that everyone's body is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Additionally, it's important to prioritize overall health and well-being rather than solely focusing on the number on the scale.
Adopting a more body-positive or body-neutral mindset and lifestyle changes to lose weight can lead to a healthier, happier life.
Here are some body-positive lifestyle changes to consider when looking to lose weight.
Instead of focusing on cutting out certain foods or drastically reducing your calorie intake, focus on adding more nutrient-dense foods to your diet. This could include adding more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats to your meals. This approach will help ensure that you're getting all the nutrients your body needs while also reducing the likelihood of feeling deprived or hungry. Plus, “95% of diets fail and most will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years” .
Physical activity is an important part of a well-rounded lifestyle, but you should find activities that you enjoy and that feels good to your body. This could include anything from walking, yoga, dance, or weight lifting. By finding activities that you enjoy, it’s not a hassle to engage in them!
Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention to the sensations and emotions associated with eating. This means being present and aware of the food you're eating, the taste, the texture, and how it makes you feel. This approach can help you develop a healthier relationship with food and reduce the likelihood of overeating. It’s also an opportunity to explore new foods!
Instead of solely focusing on the number on the scale, focus on other positive changes that you're experiencing. This could include feeling more energized, sleeping better, or feeling stronger during physical activity. These non-scale victories can be a great way to track progress and celebrate your successes.
Finally, surround yourself with positivity when it comes to your body and your weight loss journey. This could include following body-positive social media accounts, surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family members, or seeking out a supportive community such as a fitness class or online group.
Getting support from a professional can be difficult but it is a great idea. The key is finding someone who doesn’t subscribe to the culturally normative ideas of weight loss. Look for providers who use the Health at Every Size® (HAES) Principles in their work: “Health At Every Size® (HAES) Principles and framework are a continuously evolving alternative to the weight-centered approach to treating clients and patients of all sizes. The Health At Every Size® Principles promote health equity, support ending weight discrimination, and improve access to quality healthcare regardless of size” .
We would be remiss not to mention that the idea of “health,” as it is often interpreted, is an ableist construct. Individual people live with varying degrees of ability, medical histories, and comorbidities (other illnesses or conditions at the same time). Many people live with mental and physical illnesses or conditions that limit their ability (or just make it more difficult) to lose weight and/or achieve other “health goals.”
For example, asking someone with a formerly diagnosed eating disorder or history of disordered eating to lose weight can trigger them and cause more harm than good.
Many young people and adults struggle with body image, and this can cause unhealthy weight loss and weight loss methods. A study from 2019 revealed that “20% to 40% of women are dissatisfied with their bodies” and “10% to 30% of men show body dissatisfaction” .
The Mental Health Foundation published the following statistics regarding body image :
If you struggle with body image or self-esteem, you are not alone, and seeking help or support, especially if you are embarking on weight loss efforts, can be immensely helpful.
Adopting a body-positive or body-neutral mindset and lifestyle changes can lead to sustainable weight loss and a healthier, happier life. By focusing on adding healthy foods to your diet, incorporating movement that feels good to your body, practicing mindful eating, focusing on non-scale victories, and surrounding yourself with positivity, you can achieve your weight loss goals while also prioritizing your overall health and well-being.
You can also schedule a Virtual Care Visit for online weight management via Everlywell.
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How to start a weight loss journey: key steps
How to lose weight without dieting: what you need to know