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Published on January 17, 2018

healthy lifestyle

Stop using this phrase to talk about weight loss

...and instead, use these markers of health as the ultimate form of motivation

"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." This phrase always seems to pop up whenever you’re navigating the realm of fitness and weight loss.

Fitness gurus and chronic dieters use it as the ultimate form of motivation to reach the final destination: becoming skinny. "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Deprive yourself of all your favorites, but it will be worth it in the end because you will be skinny.

This phrase has one major flaw, however. It assumes that "skinny" is the only true marker of "healthy." This, of course, is not true. There are a lot of ways of achieving "skinny" that will not feel very good at all. Many people who have battled eating disorders have lost a lot of weight, but they would tell you that "skinny" does not feel good this way. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who do not identify as "skinny" who feel great in their own skin.

Being healthy does, in fact, feel really great. If you can build healthy behaviors in your eating habits, exercise routine, and coping skills, you will feel more energized, better equipped to manage stress, able to move around as you desire, and free from the guilt that accompanies depriving yourself of the things you love.

But that’s the key: The true marker of health is defined by your behaviors, not by your weight. Healthy does not look the same on everybody. It does not act the same in everybody. Healthy means fueling your body with nutritious foods, engaging in the joyful movement of your body, and finding healthy means of coping with stress and other emotions.

This will involve different habits for everyone. The fuel that’s right for my body might not be the fuel that’s right for yours. Movement that brings me joy might be agonizing for you. My coping skills may be different from yours. And that’s okay.

There are plenty of things that feel way better than being skinny. What about being loved? What about being kind? What about being accomplished? Or smart? Or fearless? Or dedicated? Or appreciated? These are the things worth striving for in life. Your purpose on this earth is not to lose weight. You were not put on this planet to count calories or points or pounds or to "be skinny."

If these are the things you find yourself spending most of your energy on, then it might be time to see a registered dietitian to help you build a positive relationship with food and set and achieve realistic goals.

It is true that nothing tastes as good as breaking free from the guilt, stress, and shame that comes with deprivation and a never-ending battle with willpower. But once you have achieved this, you’ll know that being skinny never was a true measure of a healthy lifestyle.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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