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Focus on Weight vs. Focus on Health?

I posted some of this in the tattoo weight loss thread but it got me to thinking...

Why is it that so often the focus is on losing weight and not gaining health? Why do we equate thinness with health when it hasn't been scientifically proven at all? I've recently read a lot about this because I was a yo-yo dieter my whole life, losing and gaining the same 50 pounds over and over again. I picked up this book, "Rethinking Thin" by NY Times Science writer, Gina Kolata (rhymes with Pina Colada, how awesome is that!?) and it basically taught me that every person has a "setpoint" weight that our bodies really want us to weigh and it's next to impossible to stray from that weight by more than 10-20 pounds in either direction. Some people are naturally skinny and some people are naturally heavier. The focus should be on health, not weight. If you're fat and work out and eat well and you're still fat, guess what? Maybe your body just wants to be fat. I just feel like these campaigns against obesity are ridiculous...why not wage a war for HEALTH? For ALL PEOPLE? I know skinny people who are about to keel over, their bodies just metabolize calories more efficiently than mine does but if you compare our cardiovascular health and our blood work, I'm far more healthy.

I am now reading the best book called "Health at Every Size" by Linda Bacon, PHD (hehe on last name) which is basically about the same thing. Everyone who has been on a diet knows how freaking hard it is to keep the weight off.  It's just something I totally relate to...I always felt like a failure for not being able to keep the weight off but really, I'm battling my genes. I can't win unless I dedicate my life to it, using up all my brainpower to eat less and stay skinny. It's too much. Also, the book talks about how there is no such thing as an ideal weight and about how the BMI is a totally ridiculous gauge of health. Also, people who yo-yo diet are actually a lot less healthy than people who are chubby. I don't know, there is tons of really good, well researched information in both books, I highly recommend them.

Rethinking Thin:
Health at Every Size:

Maybe this should be filed under rants but I had to get it off my chest tonight!

A side note: I love VegWeb for being such a great spot for delicious vegan recipes, all of them cholesterol free and a great many of them very good for you! Go VegWeb!
Height: 6’2’’

Weight: 240lbs

BMI: 34.9

Official Classification: OBESE

Yea... so, I'm of the opinion that the measures we use to label people healthy or unhealthy, underweight or overweight, etc are not only grossly innaccurate, but also often promote more harm than good. Our cultural obsession with tracking the physical proportions of our bodies has only pushed us further toward dis-ease. Instead of listening to the innate wisdom that our bodies possess, we hop on a scale or check a BMI chart to determine whether we're "normal" and worthy of societal approval. It makes me sad.

I wasn't going to join in the discussion, but I just had to throw my two cents in. I found myself nodding my head while reading a lot of the things WML iterated.. She put into words many things I've thought to myself about the discussions on the VW forums (people talking about weight concerns, struggling with body image, etc) but always chose to keep quite about. I guess I feel like.. who am I to go lecturing people about how they should feel good about their bodies when I'm not immune to having those sorts of thoughts myself? It makes me sad that these beautiful individuals who literally exist independent of their bodies in my mind (internet is funny like that, huh?) are suffering so much because they don't fit some mold society has labeled good enough. Hell, I guess we all are.. whether it's conscious to us or not. The commercials, advertisements, comments at the doctor's office, and television conversations have a profound impact on the lens through which we see the world... even when we're trying to resist them.

I've known you all first through your words, not your bodies. You are beautiful.

Just a few sites I want to mention that encourage alternative views on health and body size, in case anyone is interested in substituting some of that BS the media feeds us with REAL beauty...


Good stuff, Newshoes!!

Totally (well, sort of) off subject, but I love this video: (I don't necessarily love Dove, but their real beauty campaign has some pretty cool aspects to it)


Ah, yes. I love that video Quintess!  ;)b


The issues girls have with their body start long before they even think of boys.  Those who do think "I need to lose weight to be more attractive to men" ALREADY had poor body image in the first place. -.-  Still, I think those are a minority, and most want to look attractive to themselves.

Also, I think it is other women who make us feel "bad" about how we look, more so than any man. We can look at other women and compare ourselves to how they look and want to look the same. 

More on topic.. I'm kind of guilty of this too.  I've always looked at the number on the scale more than how healthy I am.  I know I shouldn't, but I can't help myself.  Even if I'm perfectly healthy, I'll always have some insecurities about how I look.  I WISH I could focus only on health and not worry about my weight.  My mind refuses to allow it though.


I wanted to say that this thread has started something with me! I've decided to put an "author's note" in my new book, as a way to make sure people aren't using my program to become too thin. I've had a week of seeing anorexic models, reading articles from my ex-model friend (who now speaks out against overly thin standards), and otherwise enlightening things.

So, I guess my point is....thank you all for your inspiration!! You will all be in my heart as I write this part of my book. Let us all be healthy, love ourselves, and appreciate our bodies!


I think if one learns to eat healthy that weight loss will come as a result. That is if the person is obese or is way overweight. The problem I have with diets is most people go on a diet and then go off a diet only to gain all the weight back. If more people would just eat healthy and keep eating healthy, then I don't think weight would be so much of an issue because I think most people who would eat healthy would be at an ideal weight range. I think regular physical activity is also important in staying healthy. Notice I didn't say exercise because I think that word scares too many people away. I think as long as someone does something that they enjoy and get a decent workout from it, it's all good. Shopping at the mall could be considered exercise based on all the walking an potential weight of carrying around all the shopping bags. -Vega Sinclair, Medical Insurance Advisor


I totally see your point. That is why I posted my personal topic "You can't complain about that which you allow'. It SHOULD be ALL about health and then your weight is what it is, what it will be, and there should be no worry about it. Don't you agree? If you focus on weight all the time you fall into comparing, our cultures idea of what you should look like, etc. If you focus on being healthy then the weight shouldn't matter. My thing was people groan and moan all the time about their weight but for MOST people it has everything to do with what they put in their mouth (or don't) and everything to do with how much they exercise (or don't). Anyways I enjoyed your post and your thoughts (author of the topic). Thank you.


I really really REALLY don't understand why so many people worry about weight. We all know just how accurate the BMI index is, so i won't even go there. lol seriously though...being healthy includes mental and physical well-being. anyone that obsesses over their weight is clearly not well at mind. We all worry about the extra baggage, but i think we should aim for good health, rather than an ideal body size. We should not let society tell us that our body is ugly or beautiful.


Helz yeah!
p.s. I just watched the documentary "America the Beautiful" (instant watch on Netflix). Has anyone else seen it?


I've found that the less I try to lose weight, the less I gain it. 

I have several disorders and meds for them all and they have me at a high weight for my height... I was once thin just by eating normally, now I'm heavier just by eating normally.  And "normally" for me is a very healthy "normal" in both calories and food types. 

My body currently wants to be at a certain place with the medical issues and medicine I'm on and trying to force it lower was actually resulting in weight *gain*.  My doctors (psych, gp, nutritionists/dieticians, ob/gyn, etc a rounded group) were all stumped for years on why this was happening.  Best we could find is that if I just eat healthy and do my normal things, I stay at one weight.... and all tests so far over the years have shown that, despite being overweight on height/weight charts, my body is as healthy as when I was thin (and healthier than when I was underweight for years).

I'll stick to a healthy lifestyle and not sweat the scales until my docs find reason.



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