Strong women with an axe

Healthy Body Not Weight Loss

Feb 1, 2021

You may say “I want to lose weight” but what you really mean is “I want a healthy body.”

Healthy body, not weight loss. People often ask me to present a ‘Weight Loss’ talk. I, however, prefer a ‘Body Health’ discussion. Weight only describes your mass; body health, in contrast, conveys information about how your mental/emotional/spiritual being is feeling in your physical body.

How to get a healthy/-ier body

Weight loss may seem like a more attainable goal, but here’s why it’s better to set increased health and vitality as your long-term ideals:

  • More joy, less effort and pain
  • Increased health with possible increased muscle mass, decreased fat mass
  • Decreased disease risk: cardiovascular, diabetes, stroke, gallstones, breathing problems, certain cancers (colon, breast, endometrial, gallbladder)

These goals are achieved with slow, manageable, habit changes in MOVE, CHOOSE, CONNECT, BALANCE, and NOURISH…

If you’re done with “yo-yo” dieting, (which increases your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease, depression), and are willing to commit to some lifestyle changes, then increased health can be yours.

MOVE your body a little every day

Every body is different, and while aerobic exercise may be right for your best friend, it may not be the best type of exercise for you. Try a variety to see what works best, and more importantly, what FEELS best. The key is to move and use your muscles every day. Why? Muscle is more metabolically active than fat; it burns 3-5x more calories at rest. As you see an increase in muscle, you’ll probably feel an increase in energy and a healthier blood sugar balance.

BALANCE, CONNECT and take time out

It’s a vicious cycle: stress leads to elevated cortisol which can lead to abdominal fat storage, blood sugar dysregulation, and diabetes which can lead to more stress….

To stop the stress cycle do at least one of these things right now:

  • Connect to yourself: meditation, alone time, yoga, Tai chi, down-time, self-care
  • Connect with others: fun, intimacy, family, friends
  • Connect to something higher: nature, humanity, prayer, religion, spirituality

CHOOSE to sleep more

Another cycle that most of us need to break is sleep deprivation. Besides keeping you from your ideal body, lack of sleep can lead to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, memory loss, osteoporosis, and shorter life span.

If you can only focus on one thing to get healthier, it should be to average 8 hours of sleep per night. Adequate sleep will balance your appetite; regulate levels of hormones ghrelin and leptin, which control feelings of hunger and fullness.

NOURISH and eat well

“You are what you eat” has always been important but as you can see from above, it’s not the only important focus for your health. When we live on foods that don’t agree with us, irritation can develop. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect at all; just mindful to learn makes us feel good! Irritation (infections, smoking, gum disease, etc.) triggers an immune response or inflammation. Inflammation can cause your aches, pains, dis-ease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, hay fever, arthritis, diabetes, -itis, depression, and cancer, and is therefore directly related to what we eat and the life we live (chosen and otherwise).

Eating habits are sometimes the most difficult to change, made even more challenging by the many choices available. Just like exercise, time out activities, and stress reduction methods, results may vary, and you need to find what works best for YOUR BODY. The easiest way is to remove the foods that are causing inflammation…

Focus on more of the good stuff

  • Vegetables, fruits, foods high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, omega-3 fats, and phytonutrients (plant nutrients)
  • Wide range of bright, natural colors
  • What makes you feel nourished, on all levels

When your body feels satisfied and full from real food and fulfilled on an emotional level, it is less likely to have cravings for foods that you don’t feel well when you eat.

A manageable approach to food

  • Eat at least 2 foods each day that nourish you
  • Introduce a new, whole food per week to rotate in to daily nourishing foods
  • Identify irritant foods (red flag lectins, allergens, energy zappers) that you eat daily, find replacements for these & SWAP them out
  • Enjoy the foods that feed & nourish your body well
  • is one of my favorite blog resources for whole food, yummy recipes

Get healthier with just one focused change per week

There are a lot of options here and your brain may be overflowing along with your “teacup.”

Relax, this is a process, a marathon, a lifestyle change, not a quick fix.

Pick one thing a day, do it for a week to make it a habit, then add another thing the next week.

  • Sleep 8 hours at night
  • Take a 5-10 minute walk in the morning or at lunchtime
  • Eat breakfast!
  • Create a large leafy green salad with protein at lunch
  • Sauté garlic & greens in olive oil for dinner
  • Call a friend to blow off steam
  • Learn to meditate
  • Pause and take deep breaths throughout the day
  • Learn what exercise drains you and what fills you up
  • Do 10 reps or 10 sec of strengthening: plank, squats, wall push-ups, etc.

Overall, please remember that your body is designed well!

Work to focus on and adjust things within your control: your lifestyle choices, movement, and mental outlook to promote your natural daily rhythms. When the body is supported and well, health often falls into place.