runfreeforever

Live. Love. Run. It's what I do.

Healthy vs. Weight-loss

If you ever watch TV, listen to the radio, read magazines, or are exposed at all to society, I’m guessing you’ve heard the countless advertisements for weight-loss programs, supplements, and fitness programs. All of them claim to be the best and claim to make you happy. The message we’re sent says that if you just lose 10, 15, or 30 lbs, your life will be happier, you’ll feel better about yourself, and everything will go your way. But I’d like to disagree with that perceived notion that we have to lose weight and wear a certain size and have a certain number pop up when you step on the scale. I think that an emphasis on health – living a healthy, active lifestyle and making healthy food decisions – is what’s more important than emphasizing weight-loss and dieting.

I don’t know about other people, but when I step on the scale and start worrying about the numbers I see, I have a tendency to immediately think that I’m fat and need to lose weight. I know that I’m at a healthy weight, but sometimes I think we all feel like we weigh more than we should, or think that our old jeans should fit better than they do, or wish that our swimsuits looked better on us than they do. But at least for me, worrying about losing weight makes me go down a snowballing path of worry, lack of self-esteem, a poor self-image, and obsession over food and calories. But then when I get stressed, sad, and worried I just end up eating more chocolate and ice cream. So basically, when I start worrying about my weight, I just end up less healthy than I was to start out with. I don’t think that it’s healthy when I start obsessing over food and calorie intake when I start worrying solely about my weight and the numbers on the scale. There’s so much more to life, so many other things to worry about, that I don’t think that it’s worth it to constantly worry about how many grams of fat were in that cake that I ate earlier or the chili I had for dinner. Eating disorders are scary, like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, and at least for me, worrying about the scale is a great open door for me to head down a path that I don’t want to take.

Rather than worrying about my weight, I think that it’s more effective to make a conscious effort to live a healthy lifestyle. For about the past year, I’ve tried to focus my attention much more on how healthy I am overall rather than just how many calories I’ve eaten or how heavy I am. I think that my mindset is much healthier and happier, and I am much more prone to choose better foods and keep myself fit when I focus on being healthy rather than on losing weight.

I find myself stepping on the scale less often, maybe somewhere between once a week to once a month, rather than every day. And guess what? My weight didn’t go anywhere when I wasn’t keeping an eye on it. It didn’t suddenly skyrocket, and it didn’t suddenly disappear. It just stayed where it was. Not monitoring my weight vigilantly every day, or multiple times a day hasn’t changed anything but my satisfaction with the girl I see staring back at me in the mirror. When I’m focusing on being healthy, I’m not afraid of being “fat” or spending my time worrying about just a number. Sure, I still mess up and don’t always eat healthy or get every workout in. But that’s okay, I just start over and keep going. When I focus on being healthy, I’m content with my body because I’m doing what I can to take good care of it, rather than trying to get rid of part of it. It changes the way I think about every run, every workout, and every meal. It changes my mindset to be making myself the best I can be rather than trying to take off the part of you that I don’t want. It’s a focus on my whole body, rather than just a portion of it.

Have you been focusing only on the numbers on a scale? Have you been obsessing over food and calories, and focusing on a part of your body rather than the whole thing? I encourage you to try changing your mindset on this weight-loss craze. If you focus on being healthy, on eating right and staying fit rather than on losing weight, hopefully you can get out of the pattern of stress, worry, unsatisfactory body image, and disappointment that so many of us put ourselves through!

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On wrestling, weight-loss, and worry

Before you ask, no, I am not in wrestling. I think girls who wrestle are crazy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not in an offensive way! It’s crazy to wrestle just like it’s crazy to run, I think we’re equal. Anyways. My boyfriend is in wrestling, and it’s his first year out (btw I think he’s a bit crazy too in a good way of course ūüėČ ). I know I’m not supposed to worry about his eating habits during the wrestling season, but I kind of can’t help myself. I have this friend who goes to another school who has been in wrestling for the past three years and I heard from his sister about how he would eat nothing but a little salad and drink nothing but water during the season. And then these eating habits would continue even after the season because he said he wasn’t hungry. I know that my boyfriend doesn’t starve himself totally like this, and he assures me that it’s perfectly healthy and that he’ll be fine, but I’m finding myself to still be skeptical. I know that making weight is just part of the sport and it’s inevitable, but really, isn’t it a little extreme or at least a bit concerning? These guys who are out for wrestling aren’t fat! They are a healthy weight already and don’t really need to lose anything. What if they made girls starve themselves too for their sports? Wouldn’t a lot more people become concerned? When you’re working out, you need those calories to refuel your body and replenish its supplies. Maybe it’s just the runner mentality in me, I don’t know. Maybe I’m crazier than I thought.

When these guys are starving themselves so they can be within a certain weight range, I see it as a huge potential open door for an eating disorder. I’ve seen eating disorders up-close. I’ve been that girl who was unhappy with her weight and over-obsessed about it and tried to change it. And maybe I’m overreacting to the whole weight-loss-for-wrestling thing, but I know how hard it is to break bad habits and to change the way you think. I think that the current system for wrestling is just inviting those bad habits and dangerous mentalities into all these young wrestlers’ lives. Eating disorders are serious and scary. They can have life-long effects, both physically and mentally. Even when someone thinks that they’re over it, the mentality can still come back and lure them back into an unhealthy eating pattern. Girls aren’t the only ones subject to eating disorders, they can affect guys too.

I googled wrestling and weight loss, and I know that there are rules and¬† guidelines in place to keep wrestlers healthy and safe, but a little voice in the back of my head tells me to continue being concerned. I will have to apologize to my boyfriend. I just don’t understand it.

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That’s the way God made them, get over it.

If you go to a cross country meet, one thing you might notice is the size of some of the girls that are up there at the front of the pack. While I know this isn’t true for all of them, there are some stick-thin¬†girls that have thighs the size of your arms and you¬†wonder how they can even have any muscle to run as fast as they do. I don’t understand how they can be that fast either, and I am¬†a cross country¬†runner! But what really¬†gets to me is when people judge these girls based on how skinny they are. I don’t think they realize that while calling someone fat, calling them anorexic can be just as hurtful. Maybe some of them are anorexic, I don’t know. But the ones that I do know aren’t. They eat. And eat. And eat. And eat. They run cross country for heaven’s sake! They have to eat or they can’t run! But what a lot of people don’t realize is that sometimes, when you’re running so many miles so fast, you can’t control your weight. They might not be trying to lose weight, but it just happens. Some of¬†them¬†may even be¬†trying to gain weight but they can’t. It’s not their fault!

I’m certainly not as small as some of those other girls, but I am happy with my weight. I eat healthy food and take care of my body.¬† My weight does weird things depending on what season it is. I lose weight during the summer and fall during cross country season, and then I gained weight during track season. I have no idea what’s going on with my body, it just does its own thing. I learned¬†to be happy with my body however much I weigh because it’s how God made me. I don’t care what the scale says. I know that as long as I take care of myself, I’ll be fine.

I know a girl in cross country¬†that has gotten so sick of people calling her skinny and anorexic that her boyfriend and some of her other friends now joke about how fat she is to make her¬†feel better. She’s the farthest thing from being fat, but she’s definitely not anorexic either! I don’t think¬†they should have to do that!¬†Why can’t¬†we all¬†stop judging people by their weight, no matter how big or small they are?? It’s not¬†necessarily something they can control! It’s the way they were born!

Earlier, I wrote a post¬†about how our government is so concerned about kids weight that they limited the number of calories in school lunches to 850 calories.¬†I don’t really want to go back to that, but maybe our government could loosen up that 850 calorie restriction on the people who are being made fun of for how skinny they are? Just a thought. In the meantime, let’s quit judging others based on their weight and be happy the way God made us! Please?

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