I’m often asked—
“If the pursuit of weight loss (almost always) leads to bingeing or rebound weight-gain in the long-run, how am I supposed to address ‘weight-related’ health issues I may be facing?
What if I have joint pain?
Or high blood pressure?
Or any others of the infinite conditions I’m always told will be alleviated through weight loss?
Good question—here’s my answer:
First of all, it’s important to remember that “weight-related” does not necessarily mean “weight-caused” (in fact, it very rarely does), and weight loss in-and-of-itself is not a fix for any of the problems listed above. More on this here.
That being said, even if a particular condition could be managed through weight loss alone, the fact remains that dieting simply isn’t sustainable for almost anyone long-term (and usually leads to higher weight outcomes, and worse health indicators in the long-run).
In other words, trying to lose weight is not an effective method for dealing with any “weight-related” conditions, by virtue of the fact that there’s currently no proven, safe, or effective way to accomplish that goal.
Thankfully, there are plenty of other (more effective) ways to address all of the conditions mentioned above.
For instance, someone struggling with joint pain may be helped by strength training. If trying to lose weight doesn’t work long-term, let’s get more muscle on you, so you can comfortably carry more weight.
If you have high blood pressure, you may want to work on getting more exercise in your day or lowering the amount of sodium you consume.
If you have diabetes, you can work on managing your blood sugar through exercise, food-pairing, or various other dietary changes.
Ultimately, these behavioral changes *may or may* not lead to weight loss—
but whether they do or not, they have a much better chance of improving your *actual health condition* long-term than some arbitrary attempt at weight control…which is almost surely doomed to fail in the long run.
Another way of thinking about this is…
if you accepted that the pursuit of weight loss is not an effective course of treatment for any health conditions—by virtue of the fact that diets have a 95% failure rate and a long list of side effects, including weight gain,
what would be your Plan B? How would you approach this problem if dieting (or attempts at weight reduction) was not an option?
and if you need help figuring out an effective Plan B for managing your particular condition—
ask yourself (and/or your doctor),
how would a thin person manage this condition?
thin people also get diabetes,
thin people also get high blood pressure,
thin people also get joint pain,
and pretty much any other ‘weight-related’ condition you can think of.
What do *they* do when faced with these medical concerns? Probably something a lot more effective than hopping on the yo-yo diet train…
Food for thought.
(and speaking of your doctor, if you’re struggling to find a healthcare professional who will work with you in a weight-neutral way—e.g. your doctor is refusing to work with you around a particular condition “until” you lose weight, or is shaming you for something that very few people actually achieve—make sure to check out this important book. You may also be able to find a more compatible health professional in your area by clicking here.
Like this blog post? There’s a whole (free) video series about where this came from. Check it out at stopfightingfood.com.