Are you trying to improve your health? There are so many things you can do to give yourself a boost! And, dieting and trying to lose weight are not only not required, but they can actually hurt health rather than improve it.
That’s right – weight loss isn’t the health-boosting secret we’ve all been sold. In fact, most people who intentionally lose weight end up gaining it all back, and then some. This isn’t your fault. It’s your body trying to protect you. You didn’t fail – the diet did!
When people diet and lose weight, then gain it back, over and over, it’s called weight cycling.
But this isn’t actually about the weight. It’s about health, right? Well, intentional weight loss and weight cycling also come with health risks.
Just a few of the health risks that come with weight cycling are increased risk for eating disorders, increased emotional stress, decreased bone health and increased inflammation.
So if not weight loss, then what? Turns out that our size doesn’t dictate our health or happiness! You can improve your health without trying to lose weight.
Here are five solid strategies to prioritize for good health.
Create tasty and satisfying meals and snacks
Rather than focusing on calories, think about food that makes you feel good. A balanced plate typically contains some combination of vegetables, fruits, grains, starches, a protein food, and a healthy fat. Stock up on your favorite foods within each of these categories so you’re ready to throw together delicious meals that make your belly happy.
Move your body in ways that feel good
You don’t have to have a structured exercise routine to be in good health, but it is important to move your body regularly. There are loads of benefits of physical activity that have nothing to do with your appearance! Try different kinds of movement and see which you like the best. Exercise should be fun, not a punishment.
Get plenty of sleep
If you’re not already getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night, it’s time to work on your sleep routine. Limit caffeine to the morning hours, start winding down an hour before bedtime, and keep screens out of the bedroom.
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Drink enough water
Being even mildly dehydrated can have a big impact on your mood, energy, and focus. Keep a reusable water bottle with you and take frequent sips. If you have trouble drinking plain water, make it fun with fruit and herbs, or mix it up with carbonated water.
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Prioritize stress management
Stress is a huge contributor to inflammation, which is a risk factor for many chronic diseases. While the first four strategies can help manage stress, it’s also helpful to work with a mental health professional. Yoga and meditation can do wonders as well.
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Try focusing on these five areas and see how you feel. It’s OK if you still want to lose weight – that’s a normal urge given the culture we live in. Whenever your mind goes to your weight, see what it’s like acknowledging that and then redirecting your attention and energy toward these five strategies. Remember, there is so much more to health than weight!