Five Tips For Adopting A Health-Centered Approach To Life

Millions of people go on a diet every year.  It’s believed that at any given time one in three women and one in five men are following a food restriction plan that they hope will help them lose weight. From low-carb to low-fat diets, shakes, pills, and juicing, people continue to get more creative about the methods they use.

But most of the weight lost using these methods is temporary and is regained within a year or two. And, there is absolutely no proof that any one diet or method works better than the others to produce long-term results. The anxiety about weight loss and concerns about the health consequences of being overweight is greater than ever.

Jon Robinson, PhD, MS recommends substituting a health-centered approach for the traditional weight-centered approach we are so familiar with.  Dr. Robinson believes that by applying a weight-centered approach people can reduce their anxiety about food and weight while promoting good health.

Stack of Stones

In an article he wrote for Wellness Councils of America called 10 Things You Can Do Right Now To Ease Concerns About Your Weight And Improve Your Health, Dr. Johnson recommends a number of things that you can do to improve your health and quality of life. Since the 10 Things You Can Do article is only available to WELCOA members, I’ve taken the liberty of sharing the five that I found to be the most valuable. I’ve included my own additional input to the suggestions but give Dr. Johnson full credit for creating the list.

1.  Save Your Time & Money – Nothing in the health and medical fields has been proven more soundly than the fact that focusing on weight loss is unlikely to lead to permanent weight loss and more likely to lead to weight cycling and weight gain. And, weight cycling makes the risk of health problems associated with being overweight – diabetes, hypertension, lipid abnormalities – even worse.

Does that mean using your My Fitness Pal app or Fit Bit is a waste of time?  No. Using apps and tools that provide motivation to eat healthy foods and exercise are helpful and you should keep using them.  Dr. Johnson is talking about those quick fixes like the the Detox Diet or Body By Vi that promise you will lose weight fast.  What they don’t tell you is that you’re likely to regain it even faster and ruin your metabolism in the meantime.  These are the weight loss gimmicks that should be avoided.

2.  Just Say No! – Do not use (or let anyone else use) your weight or BMI or any other measurement of body size or composition as an indicator of health. Dr. Johnson says that none of these have been a strong predictor of health and that people can be healthy at any size.

Rather than focusing on the scale or BMI calculation, focus being healthy at the weight you are and develop habits that will keep you that way. When making food choices, instead of thinking about calories or worrying that if you eat something you’ll put the two pounds back on that you just lost, ask yourself if the food provides the fuel you need to keep your energy level at peak. If it does, go ahead and eat it. If not, think about what a better choice would be.

3.   Listen To Your Internal Wisdom – Learn to eat according to your internal signals that include appetite, hunger and satiety. By keying into these indicators, you won’t need to pay someone to tell you how much to eat.

I wrote an article on mindless eating a couple of months ago that covered this very topic.  So often we eat while other things are going on.  If we’re eating while watching T.V., playing a computer game, working on our computer, or sending text messages, we’re not paying attention to appetite, huger and satiety and chances are we’ll continue to eat even after we’re full.  Make meal time a time that is focused on the food you’re eating and wait for the internal cues to let you know when to eat and when to stop.

4.  Consider Dr. Robinson’s Simplified Dietary Guidelines – Dr. Johsnon’s dietary guidelines were designed to help us get the nutrition we need to grow and strive.  They are:

  • Enjoy your food
  • Eat a wide variety of food
  • Pay attention to internal signals whenever you can
  • Share your food with someone who is needy – gratitude is deeply nourishing!

A diet that’s based on 100 calorie shakes for breakfast and lunch and a low-cal heat-and-eat meal for dinner doesn’t fit with the guidelines.  Neither do any of the other fad diets on the market today which is why they set people up for long-term failure.  Eating and enjoying good food is one of the true pleasures of being alive and it’s pointless to try and eliminate this basic desire.

5.  Celebrate – Dr. Johnson believes that if you follow these suggestions you will have reason to celebrate:

  • End your time on the frustrating dieting rollercoaster.
  • Increase your self esteem and body image.
  • Take charge of your eating and paying attention to your body instead of what someone else is telling you to do.
  • Help your body settle near the weight it is genetically programmed to achieve.
  • Open up significant amounts of time, energy and money that you used to spend worrying about your weight and food.
  • Ameliorate or normalize any of the so-called weight-related health conditions you may have had whether or not you experience any change in weight.

Imagine what it would be like if you stopped worrying and fretting about trying to stay at a specific weight that you’ve arbitrarily decided you should be at.  It would be a true cause for celebration and would leave you room to focus on so many other of life’s pleasure.

Health Centered Approach

A successful transition to the health centered approach will provide you the freedom to enjoy so many other aspects of your life that you’ve had to push aside because you’re spending so much time concentrating on your weight.

But, for someone that has spent years focused on the calories-in-calories-out approach to maintaining a healthy weight, making this shift won’t take place in a few days or weeks.   This approach is intended to be a long-term, lifestyle change that will allow you see yourself in a way that isn’t tied to how much you weigh.

For the full PDF version of Dr. Johnson’s article, click here.

If you liked this article you might also enjoy Is It Time To Shift Your Focus From Weight-Loss To Health-Gain?

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