Trying to lose weight and expecting it to cure a health problem is like trying to stop coughing in order to cure lung cancer.
For many years, I was convinced that if I could lose enough weight, and become skinny and toned, my health would be perfect.
That has become the general consensus in our culture, hasn’t it? If you look really lean, you’re “healthy.” If you don’t look lean, you’re “lazy” and you've “let yourself go.” You’re probably eating too many muffins, and clearly don’t care deeply about your health.
The mentality: Prove that you spend a good chunk of your life running on a hamster wheel. Prove that you “eat clean” and avoid sugar and think about it all the time. Prove that you care about your life.
Weight does not equal health.
I thought that controlling my weight would heal my hormones, health, and life.
But what I learned, both firsthand and by learning about the Health At Every Size movement, is that health and weight are not as connected as we think. In fact, they’re barely connected at all.
The study featured in the Health at Every Size books shows that after two years, dieters regained more than they had lost and their health markers decreased. In contrast, the other group eschewed dieting and learned to listen to and honor themselves and their hungers. This group lost no weight, but their health markers improved.
And when I actually became very lean — the thing I’d always thought would heal me?
I still had the same health issues and hormone imbalances, and it became painfully clear how misguided I had been (and doctors continue to be).
I’m not saying that weight gain can’t be a symptom or side effect of other imbalances or stress or sadness. But that's the thing...
It’s a symptom, not the cause.
Trying to lose weight and expecting it to cure a health problem is like trying to stop coughing in order to cure lung cancer — that’s just not how it works, and it is an irresponsible focus for health practitioners to have.
And this is a phenomenon that ‘fat’ patients run into constantly. Because of our culture’s fixation on weight and weight loss, a fat patient will be told to lose weight before doctors will consider give them other treatments. This is dangerous, irresponsible, and sizeist.
They will often be told to lose weight by doctors even if their health is perfectly fine.
The truth is, we come in different shapes and sizes.
There is no one “healthy” or “normal” weight.
And until we start realizing that on a health policy level, healthcare will remain biased and unfair.
There are plenty of fat people who are “healthy” and plenty of thin people who are incredibly “unhealthy.” And there are lots of marathon runners who die of heart attacks. Truth.
Weight is not a clear indication of health, and focusing on weight loss is not your best bet at improving your health.
Instead, focusing on genuine self-care, good habits, happiness, rest, delicious and nourishing food, and joyful movement. That’s health.
You can improve your health without losing weight!