Within the health and wellness space there is a significant amount of content focusing on weight loss. However, there are several non-weight aspects of health that are important to focus on – some of which may be pushed aside with the one-track mindset of losing weight.
Largely due to the toxic effects of diet culture, our society is programmed to think if we gain weight, we must strive to lose it. It’s important to remember that as we go through life our bodies change – and that’s okay. In fact, it is a totally normal process.
What would life look like if instead of focusing on the number on the scale, you aim to accomplish a non-weight-related victory? How would your mindset change?
You may feel less stressed, less attached to a number, and you likely would improve your health – perhaps more so with the potential added benefit of losing weight. Besides, being of a certain weight does not necessarily equal health.
While weight loss is not necessarily a bad goal to have if you are outside of the healthy range, it should not be the only health goal you set for yourself.
There is science-backed evidence to support that lifestyle factors – such as the ones discussed in this article – can largely provide a backbone to creating a healthy life.
1. Engage in daily self care practices
Be an advocate for your own mental health and well-being. Self care is an integral part of a wellness routine. However, due to the fast-paced world we live in, it’s easy to not make our own self-care a priority.
Even if it’s only five minutes each day, it’s important to make time in our busy schedules for regular self-care practices.
There is no one “right way” to practice self care. Depending on the person, self care might look like a daily meditation, journaling, getting a massage, carving out time to curl up with a good book, preparing a healthy meal or snack, taking a yoga class, or dancing around to your favorite song.
Regardless of the self-care practice, those who prioritize their own self care tend to report less stress and a higher quality of life (1).
2. Increase intake of fruits and vegetables
Said time and time again – and for good reason – eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals to support optimal health. Plus, they are a great source of fiber to support a healthy gut microbiome.
In fact, studies show that weight loss is more sustainable and achievable if other aspects of health are prioritized such as exercise, sleep, mindfulness, and finding a healthy relationship with food.
For example, increased fruit and vegetable intake has been shown to have a correlation to reduced likelihood to be overweight or obese (2).
What’s more, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on a regular basis helps to reduce the risk for many diseases and conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, for example. Eating more fruits and vegetables will also make you feel healthier and more energized.
Aim to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. A serving of fruit is about 1 cup, and a serving of vegetables looks like either 1 cup of raw vegetables or ½ cup cooked.
An easy way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake is by making smoothies. To create a balanced smoothie, aim for at least one serving of vegetables, at least one serving of fruit, a healthy fat source – such as nuts/seeds or avocado, and a protein.
Here is a healthy smoothie recipe packed with fruits and vegetables that you can try:
Green Kiwi Colada
- ½ frozen banana
- ¼ cup frozen pineapple
- 1 kiwi
- 1 date
- ¼ avocado
- Handful of kale
- 1 scoop of our super greens powder
- 2 scoops of Naked Pea Protein
- 1 cup of unsweetened non-dairy milk
Directions: Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!
Note that Naked Greens powder is a fantastic way to increase your consumption of nutrients from vegetables. This super nutritious powder contains all organic veggies including broccoli, alfalfa grass, kale, spinach, and wheatgrass.
3. Improve strength and flexibility
Instead of focusing on a particular weight goal, improve your physical health by committing to getting stronger and more flexible.
Strength and flexibility are the backbones to maintaining healthy bones and muscles, and allowing for your body to perform optimally whether performing activities of day-to-day life, or training for a marathon.
It’s easy to get caught up in fitness goals of getting leaner, more toned, building muscle, losing fat, etc.
However, paying attention to flexibility is key to a well-rounded exercise routine as it enables the body to remain loose and toned. Aiming to increase strength is an important health goal as well. Plus, stronger muscles and bones will enable you to perform more optimally in your fitness routine.
Yoga, for example, is a great practice that focuses on both strength and flexibility. Even just five minutes of stretching daily can be a great addition to your exercise routine. In fact, studies show that regular yoga practice may enhance athletic performance of athletes (3).
4. Make sleep hygiene a priority
Having healthy sleep habits is an integral aspect to overall health. Healthy sleep habits – or sleep hygiene – refers to the practices and habits that shape a good night’s sleep and leave you feeling energized for the day.
Sleep specialists recommend that healthy people need on average, about 7 hours of quality sleep each night (4).
Beyond the hours of sleep that is recommended for most of us, it’s important to think about the habits that surround our sleep. There are things that may be negatively impacting our sleep quality – such as drinking caffeine in the evening, blue light before bed, and irregular sleeping hours, for example.
However, there are better habits that you can begin to adapt today to start improving your sleep.
For one, it’s important to implement a regular sleep schedule. Aim to go to sleep around the same time every night and aim to wake up around the same time every morning. Sleeping in until noon on the weekends may throw off your schedule and make it harder to not hit snooze multiple times at 7 AM on a Monday morning.
A healthy wind-down ritual may include eliminating screen time at least 30 minutes before bed, making your bedroom peaceful and relaxing by lighting a candle and/or playing calming music, and making a mug of herbal tea for example.
Regardless of the stress-reducing routine you adopt, taking steps to improve your sleep habits can make a large impact on your overall health, energy levels, and mood (5).
5. Focus on intuitive eating to improve your relationship with food
Lastly, setting a goal to improve your relationship with food is no small feat, however, the positive effects of working on intuitive eating can be profound.
Intuitive eating is based on a set of ten principles that all help people to break out of the cycle of dieting and ultimately teaches people to trust themselves and listen to their bodies.
Some of these principles focus on listening to our bodies fullness and hunger cues, rejecting diet mentality, and challenging the inner “food police” that some of us experience.
Studies show that intuitive eating can reduce patterns of disordered eating, and improve psychological well-being (6).
What’s more, although intuitive eating does not take a weight-centric approach nor does it guarantee changes in weight status, there is some research to note that by listening to our bodies and practicing intuitive eating, we may in fact experience some weight loss as a result (7).
The Bottom Line
Next time you think to set a health goal for yourself, and the first thing that comes to mind is weight loss, maybe it’s time to re-think your wellness goals.
Although weight loss is not a bad goal to have if you are overweight, there are so many other aspects of health that are just as important – if not more important – to focus on.
Set a goal to make time for daily self-care, eat more fruits and vegetables by perhaps adding a smoothie into your daily routine, strive to get stronger – not skinnier, focus on the quality of your sleep, or practice mindful and intuitive eating.
You might even find that by focusing on a goal besides weight may even provide you with more benefits than you thought. So, get started with at least one of the above, and let’s finally start celebrating some non-weight victories.