When the new year arrives, you might be feeling renewed motivation to prioritize your health and wellness goals (which may have gotten off track during the hectic holiday season).
But rather than zero in on a specific weight-loss goal, take the advice of obesity and lipid specialist Spencer Nadolsky, DO, medical director at WeightWatchers, and focus your efforts toward weight health.
"Weight health is a holistic approach that takes into account one's overall health, beyond just their weight based on pounds," he says. "When we look at weight health, we look at how one's weight impacts their overall wellbeing, as we know weight loss and weight maintenance can prevent and treat diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and much more."
Focusing your resolutions around weight health instead of loss is about shifting your mindset to help create a realistically healthy lifestyle when it comes to movement, nutrition and other wellbeing habits, Dr. Nadolsky says.
Every small step — from making an effort to stay hydrated to getting enough protein — counts as a step toward your goal, but if you want some help holding yourself accountable, Dr. Nadolsky recommends giving WeightWatchers' Points Program a try to get started with healthy habits.
Following a science-backed behavioral program like WeightWatchers can help you stay on track with your nutrition, building a healthy relationship with the foods you love versus deprivation, he says.
Here are three ways shifting your mindset toward focusing on your weight health instead of your scale can help you accomplish your New Year's goals.
1. Supports a More Sustainable Approach
When it comes to hitting your goals, drastically shifting your lifestyle — such as trying out unrealistic weight-loss techniques or heavily restrictive fad diets — is not sustainable. But, when you take the more holistic approach to your weight via smaller steps, you'll be able to build upon each one to meet your health resolutions.
"Shift more towards eating satiating, nutrient-packed foods that keep you fuller for longer, which can be helpful in supporting sustainable weight loss and weight management but also allow one to live a healthful life," he says.
Although you may see a plateau in your weight, this doesn't mean you're not getting healthier — and focusing on your health will cause you not to be as disappointed when this plateau happens, because your goals will no longer involve an ideal weight.
Alternatively, judge your health by how strong you feel and notice the tone of your body as you increase your movement.
2. Helps You Advocate for Your Health Goals
Advocating for yourself is never easy, but the more you do, the more empowered you'll feel to lean into your health goals, Dr. Nadolsky says.
If you're concerned your weight is tied to an underlying health condition or you want help with weight-management tools, don't be afraid to speak up to your doctor — or find a specialist who can help.
"Often we hear from members they felt their concerns were not addressed or taken seriously when it came to their weight," he says, which left them feeling stigmatized.
To address significant weight-related health conditions such as hypertension or type 2 diabetes, Dr. Nadolsky suggests visiting a specialized clinician who can help you determine what tools you may personally need to support your weight-management journey — such as WeightWatchers and WeightWatchers Clinic, which can help you determine an appropriate and sustainable pathway toward your personal weight health. For some, there are sustainable behavior modifications that can help with weight loss and management, and for others, the potential need for clinical intervention based on FDA guidelines and criteria.
By taking the step to advocate for yourself, you'll get that much closer to reaching your resolutions through the tips and tools you'll be given by your health care providers.
3. Celebrates Victories Beyond the Scale
As our culture shifts from a number-on-the-scale mentality and leans into focusing on health outcomes gained from personalized weight health, we are empowered to reach our wellbeing goals collectively and create a space together for healthy conversations free of stigma and bias.
One great part about focusing on your weight health instead of weight loss is that you can remind yourself that your weight or the size of your clothes do not always correlate with your health, which can feel freeing, Dr. Nadolsky says.
"Use the new year to set personal goals along with health goals that help achieve them," he says. "For some that is training for a marathon, for others booking a trip for some mental health downtime out of the office. Regardless of the number on the scale, I encourage my patients to focus on their overall health and to be mindful of their lifestyle choices and any changes that may be needed to get there."
When you feel nourished and healthy, you can focus on behaviors that your best self would do — like go for a hike on a new mountain or try out a new recipe.
By taking small steps toward your health that will continue to add up, you'll meet (or even surpass) your goal in no time. Here's to prioritizing your weight health, and not loss, in 2024.
Want to check out how WeightWatchers can help you stay nourished this holiday season? Click here to get three months free.
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