If you are like many, you may have resolved to lose weight this year and have changed your lifestyle in order to meet your goals. But focusing only on that magic number on the scale can actually lead to weight gain, not weight loss, according to a new study.
The study's authors researched over 200 other studies and found that the emphasis on losing weight in lieu of other healthy goals had a detrimental effect on dieters; they ended up depressed, guilty, and dissatisfied with their bodies, which led to weight gain.
The authors also debate on whether fat is as harmful as many claim, saying that their findings do not support commonly accepted ideas about losing weight, including that it will prolong your life, that obesity is an economic burden, and that weight loss is the only way that obese people can improve their health.
Keep reading for tips on balancing weight loss goals with healthy habits.
No matter what you think of the authors' findings, we know that weight loss should not be the only goal for healthy living — after all, eating a restricted-calorie diet of nothing but junk food will get you to your weight loss goal, but it's definitely not healthy! Here are some ways you can ensure you are focusing on healthy habits, not pounds lost, when you are dieting and exercising.
- Be a mindful eater. Eating healthy is not all about going vegetarian or restricting yourself from indulgences. Instead, eat a healthy balance of proteins, grains, and vegetables, focus on good-quality ingredients, and train yourself to notice when you are eating when you're not hungry.
- Remind yourself why eating healthy is good for you. Sure, weight loss may be the number one reason why many people diet, but eating healthfully has many other benefits, like lowering the risk of disease, keeping you energized, and keeping your hair, skin, and eyes looking their best.
- Focus on other important reasons to hit the gym. Building strength, toning muscles, and keeping your heart healthy are reasons you should workout.
- Remember that yo-yo dieting slows your metabolism. If weight loss is your only reason why you diet and exercise, meeting your weight goal can lead to a celebratory overindulgence session afterward or an otherwise loosening of following a diet's strict rules. Constant weight loss and gain can lead to a slow down in your metabolism, not to mention a rewire in how hungry and full you feel. Instead, skip the fad diets so you're not tempted to pig out because you've been depriving yourself.