Inside Scoop: Stop weighing yourself and discover the 3 science-backed ways you can improve your health today instead!
This post was submitted by Mikayla Norton, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and Founder of Whole Life Nutrition.
Ask most people what’s required to improve their health and I guarantee the answer will be “lose weight”. However, the relationship between health and weight is not as clear-cut as we’ve been led to believe.
Research has shown that not only are intentional weight-loss efforts ineffective in the long term but that they also don’t necessarily lead to improved health. Furthermore, using weight as the only indicator of our health can actually distract us from improving it.
THE NOT-SO-SIMPLE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WEIGHT & DISEASE RISK
Although we know that carrying excess amounts of body fat is correlated with an increased risk of disease, we also know that correlation does not equal causation.
Imagine a doctor who came across a patient presenting with both stained teeth and heart palpitations. The doctor wouldn’t simply conclude that the stained teeth were the cause of the patient’s heart problem but would explore the relationship between the symptoms to find the probable cause of both. Too much coffee perhaps? In the same way, we can’t possibly conclude that obesity is definitely what is responsible for poor health outcomes. In fact, when factors such as activity level, socioeconomic status and nutrient intake are considered and controlled for in scientific studies on the relationship between weight and disease, the purported associations disappear or are least at significantly reduced.
WHY A WEIGHT-FOCUSED APPROACH TO HEALTH IS DAMAGING
Not only is the causal relationship between weight and health not as simple as we’ve been convinced it is but the pursuit of weight-loss may actually be detrimental to our health. It’s been proven that an over-emphasis on weight control can lead to disordered eating behaviours; poor body image; low self-esteem; increased weight bias and even weight gain.
Using weight as an indicator of whether our health is improving can also mean that we give up pursuing proven health-promoting behaviours, such as increasing physical activity, simply because the number on the scale isn’t going down. Health markers in individuals such as blood pressure, blood lipids and insulin sensitivity can be improved by implementing positive lifestyle changes regardless of whether or not weight-loss is observed. This is another important reason to show why you should stop weighing yourself and relying only on the scale.
STOP WEIGHING YOURSELF AND DO THIS INSTEAD
3 science-backed ways you can improve your health today (that have nothing to do with the scale!):
1) MOVE MORE
This doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym for hours every day. Find a sport or activity that you really enjoy or simply increase the amount of walking you do on a daily basis. Moderate as well as vigorous activity has been shown to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Here are some things you can do today:
- Try to park your car at the at the spot furthest away from the grocery store or hop off the bus the stop before yours.
- Schedule a brisk walk into your day, squeeze in 10-30 minutes of walking, perhaps even on your lunch break, the fresh air and movement will likely help your concentration too!
- Join an activity club (like running or hiking) or group fitness class you enjoy. Remember that movement can be fun! Chasing your kids around the park or dancing around the living room totally count.
2) INCREASE YOUR FRUIT & VEG INTAKE
Fruit and vegetables have a protective effect against developing disease. They contain plenty of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants so adding a few more servings into your diet will likely improve your digestion, energy levels, improve immunity and ability to recover from injury.
Here are some tricks:
- Keep prepared, ready-to-eat veggies in the fridge. Things like baby carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes make for quick snacks and are great for adding to meals.
- Try adding some veg to a fruit smoothie. Beetroot, baby spinach and romaine lettuce work well and don’t have super strong flavours.
- Canned beans and lentils are inexpensive, make meals go further and are excellent sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Check out these additional tips to add more veggies to your diet.
And if you’re looking for simple and quick ways to add healthy back to your lifestyle then make sure to grab your 5 Ingredient Challenge Cookbook below, containing deliciously simple recipes made with 5 ingredients or less.
3) GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Not only will getting in 6-8 hours a night of good quality sleep help you to have more energy in the day but it may also decrease your risk of adverse health outcomes. Sleep in essential for brain health, memory and stress management.
Here’s what you can do tonight:
- Create a night time routine. Start unwinding at least 30 minutes before you plan to go to sleep. Take a relaxing bath or shower, read, meditate, do what you need to do to let your body know it’s bedtime.
- You’ve heard this a million times before but put down those electronic devices! At least an hour before bed. The blue light they emit can mess with our bodies natural sleep and wake rhythms.
- Avoid or at least lower your intake of caffeine and stimulants, especially within 8-9 hours of bedtime. Switch to decaf or caffeine-free alternatives in the afternoon.
Don’t forget to Join us for the ‘5 Ingredient Challenge’ and instantly download your Healthy 5 Ingredient Cookbook today
Mikayla Norton is a Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and Founder of Whole Life Nutrition. She passionately believes that authentic health is about so much more than simply what we eat. Using intuitive eating and movement principles and a Health at Every Size® approach Mikayla helps women to find peace and freedom in their relationships with both food and their bodies so that they can show up for what matters most in their lives! She lives in Leeds, UK with her husband and when she’s not coaching clients you can find her developing recipes, breaking a sweat or snuggling Scout the cat.