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SALT LAKE CITY — The week of Jan. 21-28 is Healthy Weight Week, sponsored by the Healthy Weight Network. During healthy weight week, individuals are encouraged to improve health habits in sustainable ways such as normalizing eating patterns, living actively and feeling good about themselves.
This week was established in 1992 by Francie M. Berg, a licensed nutritionist and adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine. The goal is to help people move away from diets and body dissatisfaction and to help them understand that health is not about numbers (weight or otherwise) or quick fixes.
So what is a healthy weight?
Green Mountain at Fox Run, a partner and sponsor of Healthy Weight Week, has defined a healthy weight as:
“Achieving and maintaining your healthy weight is supported by healthful, enjoyable living that includes mindful, pleasurable eating and physical activity, effective stress management, adequate sleep and more. It is not a weight that is achieved through restricting what you eat or excessively exercising in order to lose weight.”
Essentially, a healthy weight is found as a result of healthy, sustainable behaviors rather than pushing your body into something it doesn’t really want to be through restrictive, extreme or unsustainable patterns.
This week is to recognize that a healthy weight will look different on everyone. People come in all different shapes and sizes and this brings attention to the very real issue of weight stigma.
"The real weight epidemic in this country is about body dissatisfaction and the unhealthy methods employed to try to change our bodies into what is often completely unrealistic for an individual," said registered dietitian Marsha Hudnall in a statement on healthyweight.net.
Weight stigma benefits no one. This 2014 study states: “It’s a myth that shaming or criticizing someone’s weight will pressure them into losing weight. The actual impact is called weight stigma and is related to higher blood pressure, binge eating behaviors, bulimic symptoms, negative body image, low self-esteem and depression in children, adolescents and adults.”
Health, therefore, is a product of healthy behaviors rather than assessed by numbers or appearance.
Below are a few ideas on how to build more realistic and sustainable habits for food, exercise and body image:
- Instead of cutting out food groups, aim to include a balance of protein, carbohydrate, fat and fruit or vegetables at each meal.
- Establish more consistent eating patterns by aiming to eat every 3-5 hours, adding snacks between meals if they are further apart than that.
- Make a list of physical activities that YOU enjoy. Dancing? Stretching? Yoga? Walking? Hiking? Running? Group fitness classes? Lifting weights? There’s no need to do something you don’t enjoy when there are so many ways to be active and healthy.
- Avoid body checking in mirrors or glass reflections. This will put your mind back on appearance rather than well-being. Prioritize feeling good (through healthy behaviors) over being good (keeping food rules or sticking to a diet) or looking good (judging health through appearance).
- Make yourself a priority by keeping commitments to yourself. Preparing a delicious meal, finding time for exercise, getting enough sleep and finding effective ways to manage stress will improve your health in ways that aren’t so hyper-focused on numbers and weight.
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