You may not have known (I didn't until yesterday), but this past week was Healthy Weight Awareness Week. The mission and goal of Healthy Weight Awareness Week, as stated by its sponsor The Healthy Weight Network is:
“A time to celebrate healthy diet-free living habits that last a lifetime and prevent eating and weight problems.”
Wouldn't it be wonderful to live in a world where numbers on scales weren't a source of frustration and body image was not an issue? Not to say that we should eat junk liberally with the notion that weight, health and well-being don't matter but I think it would be refreshing if we chose our foods each day with the intention of fueling our bodies with quality, tasteful and health-promoting foods.
Countless studies have shown that dieting doesn't work. In fact, diets are often the source of weight gain! The better option is to adjust our eating habits in a manner that promotes the achievement of a healthy weight, wellness and happiness in the long-term. Patience is key. Deprivation will only lead to greater cravings, setbacks and burnout. Rather than focusing on a restrictive calorie goal or certain foods to exclude from your diet, focus on healthier habits to include.
Healthy body image is another key part of Healthy Weight Awareness Week. So often we compare ourselves to others, forming unrealistic expectations for how we want our body to look. But God created us all uniquely, so rather than aiming to be a second-rate version of someone else, aim to be a first-rate version of your own self! This has been a tough lesson for me to learn, especially as a distance runner. "Stereotypical" successful distance runners are tall and thin, yet I am short with a more muscular physique. At many points in the past I've looked at myself and thought "I'd be faster (and happier) if I were taller and thinner" like a "typical" distance runner. Yet those are factors I cannot change. I will never change my genetics but I can change my attitude and strive to be a better version of my own self!
The key to long-term success is not just in the foods you buy and especially not in a magical weight loss pill. The first step towards sustainable, healthy change is to change your attitude. You must first learn to love yourself as you are today before you can successful work towards being a better version of yourself tomorrow. Focus on enjoying the journey rather than on getting to the destination as fast as possible. I guarantee there will be setbacks! Aim to make the best decisions for your body today, but also keep the long-term in mind for a healthier perspective towards health, well-being, weight management and athletic achievement.
So even though Healthy Weight Awareness Week is technically over, I hope that you will keep its message in mind throughout the year and, more importantly:
Take some time each day to Celebrate YOU!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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