Weight Loss Does Not Equal Health
Weight loss does not equal health.
Louder for the people in the back.
There is a serious issue in the fitspo space right now regarding weight loss. Weight loss is being promoted as the answer to all your health woes and that you can’t be your best self until you are a smaller self.
That is dangerous and often backfires when someone loses all the “weight” and still has underlying health or hormone issues that have gone unaddressed. This happens all to often in the medical space as well, but that's another topic.
It is often assumed that health issues are a result of the extra weight, when in fact its usually the opposite. The underlying health issues are often the cause of the extra weight not the result of it.
I can attest to it firsthand. About 5 years ago I was at my smallest and fittest size, and I was the most inflamed and in pain I had been in my life. I remember stopping mid workout because I was in so much pain and had been for weeks on end. One day, I had finally hit my breaking point and broke down sobbing in the bathroom because I was sick of being in so much pain every single day. (For those who know me, I don't cry often and have a decent pain tolerance.) Why was my body failing me yet again?
On the surface, I looked fit, healthy, and happy. Based on my size, people assumed I was healthy. In reality, I was in a huge auto-immune flare and my body was screaming at me to wake the fuck up and pay attention.
At the time, I ate “healthy”, but also weighed and measured every single morsel of food that went into my mouth. I had an unhealthy relationship with foods was eating foods that hurt my body for the sake of "shrinking" it.
That kept my body smaller but as a result, I ignored more important body signals like satiety, sleep quality, digestion, moods etc. I would wake up and my feet felt like I was stepping nails. I had crazy pms and mid cycle spotting and cramping which I had not had in my entire life. My sleep was crap and I couldn't get a solid night's sleep without a melatonin sleep aid and even then I never woke up feeling rested or refreshed and hit snooze at minimum for 1/2 hour every morning. My body hurt every single workout and it wasn't just sore muscles, it was deep joint pain and constant throbbing. I couldn't get through my workday without reaching for NSAIDs because the pain was so severe.
I was obsessed with the scale weighing myself twice a day, sometimes 3, and lived and died by my macros that it didn’t matter if I was full, I had to shove that food in, or worse hungry, and couldn’t go over my calorie counts. I completely ignored my body signals all for the sake of shrinking my body and trying to look a certain way in my head that would somehow equate my happiness.
Even though I was in a smaller body, I still wasn’t happy and kept setting smaller and smaller body goals.
I worked out and ate right, but my body was screaming.
Turn off the noise of the fitspo space telling you just to shrink your body wrapping up a diet program as a “lifestyle” change. If food is being weighed and measured and you aren’t eating to satiety but rather a calorie count, that is not a lifestyle it is a diet and is destined to fail.
Behaviors and body signals should be your guide. Healthy behaviors improve your health. Just shrinking your body does not. Anyone can shrink their body. It doesn't mean they are healthy physically or mentally.
Movement should not be painful. It should be appropriate for your body. Some bodies require more gentle movement and less intensity and others can tolerate more. Finding what works best for your body is critical to your health and longevity with movement.
That painful body journey was a huge wake up call for me. I got to a point where I didn’t give two shits what the scale said, I just wanted to be pain free again.
Fast forward to now. I don’t even know what I weigh unless I go to the doctor. I am not the same size that I was at my thinnest, however, I feel fucking fantastic.
I sleep great almost every single night without any supplementation to help me, wake up refreshed and pain free. I no longer feel the pins and needles in my feet, my joints rarely ache, and I enjoy my workouts pain free.
I eat intuitively and focus on mostly whole unprocessed foods and eat to satiety. If I want more I have more. If I am full, I stop and put it away. I eliminated the foods that hurt my body and cause me inflammation.
My workouts are at a volume and intensity that I not only enjoy but feels good.
My energy level is up where I don’t feel like a beat-up rag by 8 every night. I have enough energy to work my full-time job, workout after, make dinner, walk the dogs, and then do 20-30 min of passive yoga for my mobility and recovery.
Most importantly, I am happy and healthy. I have auto-immune diseases and a chronic kidney issue and remain prescription drug free with all my markers in check.
Before you consider any modifications to the size of your body, ask yourself the tough questions so you can really address the imbalances and change for the better not just for the smaller.
This is not out of reach for anyone and should not just be a dream to feel good. Just because shit sleep, feeling beat up and tired, and poor digestion are common doesn't mean they are normal.