Don’t Sweat a Weight Loss Plateau
A Healthy Routine is So Much More
There’s a big focus on weight in personal health today. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is a great goal. But the range of “healthy” weight might be wider than you think. I want to try and convince you that instead of trying a drastic weight loss diet to improve your visible results, it might be better to just stay on course. Keep calm, keep up the healthy habits, and don’t sweat the pounds.
Changing your lifestyle and making healthy choices create significant changes in your long-term health. Focusing too much on shedding pounds, and switching to unhealthy practices when you hit a plateau, could undo all that good work.
If you’re working hard to change what you eat and how much you move, here’s a little about what that’s doing for you beyond weight loss.
The Relationship Between Weight Loss and Health
There’s a lot of disagreement about the health implications of weight, but I’m fond of a middle-ground approach here. Being overweight is often, but not always, a signifier of elements of a lifestyle that could result in health complications. I’m choosing this language carefully because weight gain has many causes, which include chronic illness and disability beyond people’s control. Some people struggle to control weight no matter how hard they work at it, having been dealt a rough hand by genetics.
The point is that the way you live your life is what’s important — more important than the number on the scale or the inches on your waist. That’s what I’m getting at here. If you’re trying to live healthier, focus on those habits, and how you feel, instead of the weight loss. Diet culture can be extremely harmful, and engaging in unsustainable diets for short-term results can often result in bouncing back and forth between losing and gaining pounds. “Yo-yo dieting,” as it’s often called, can be more hazardous to your health than keeping a steady weight, even if you are overweight.
As difficult as it is, it’s best not to focus on short-term weight loss results. The diets and routines that produce them are often unsustainable. If you hit a weight loss plateau, just keep going slow and steady. You’ll get there.
Remember All the Good That Healthy Habits Do
When you’re struggling with weight, one way to keep yourself motivated is to think about all the things that your healthy routine is doing for you besides weight loss.
First of all, remember that muscle is denser than fat. So if you’ve started to exercise, you may not see weight loss as your body builds muscle. But you’re setting yourself up for a better metabolism, so it’s important to be patient because exercise will help you get healthier. And remember that not all weight is equal. Don’t let a lack of initial progress stop you.
Maintaining a healthier lifestyle, between exercise, food choices, sleep scheduling and stress management, has a number of less visible positive effects on your long-term health and even life expectancy. Getting caught up in the numbers can do a disservice to those much more important health outcomes.
A number of chronic and even fatal illnesses can be fought off long before they begin by maintaining healthy habits. On the other hand, fad diets that cause yo-yoing can increase your risk of health complications.
- Getting even light exercise, to get blood pumping through your veins, can decrease the risks of conditions like varicose veins.
- Speaking of veins, making changes to your diet (remember, cut out sugar, not fat) and doing regular cardio exercise can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Changing your lifestyle can help with less life-threatening, but no less important health conditions such as chronic stress.
- While there’s no real way to guarantee the effectiveness of cancer prevention strategies, it’s never too late to start making changes that limit your risk. The risk of a number of types of cancer, including very common types like breast cancer, can be reduced by changing the way you live.
Sights Set on Health, Not Pounds
If you’re looking to break unhealthy habits, it’s great to have goals. But in this writer’s humble opinion, basing those goals on pounds or inches lost can turn into a trap. It’s easy to focus on the wrong results and ruin good habits just to get those results.
Here are a few other things you can focus on, that prioritize overall health in your mind. Try to track how you feel and other signifiers of progress rather than pounds.
Have you been sleeping better since starting your new routine? Try tracking the hours you sleep and the quality of the sleep you get every morning.
Why not track your workout progress? Or the days you make home-cooked meals? Incidents of pain, nausea, stress, or headaches?
By focusing on your general health, and looking at all the outcomes rather than playing the numbers game, you’ll be on your way to a more sustainable health routine.
About the Author
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.