Health or Vanity: Examining the Reasons Behind the Weight Loss Journey.

I can’t think of a single woman who I know who hasn’t at one time or another desired to lose weight. Honestly I feel as though with almost every conversation I have with another woman, the subject manages to come up. Body dissatisfaction is too common among females and it is frighteningly developing at increasingly younger ages.

The unfortunate reality is that we have been conditioned to equate how we look with our self-worth. This is a very sad and scary notion because it teaches girls and women to channel all of their energy into their appearance, rather than their individual gifts, talents and strengths. The danger in this is the effect it has on us when we feel like our appearance doesn’t measure up, which creates feelings of self-defeat, self-loathing, as well as anxiety and depression. And weight continues to rank as the number one issue we have with our appearances.

What happens as a result of these feelings is a desire for weight loss for vanity’s sake rather than for health’s sake. Cue the slippery slope, because when a woman embarks on a weight loss journey with vanity as her motivation, the methods employed differ greatly from when health is the primary motivator. This is when the desire for a quick fix takes over, and the use of pills, diet supplements, chemical filled shakes, fad diets, and extreme caloric restriction take center stage. All of these methods could lead to a major weight loss, but at what price? The use of diet supplements and the lack of proper caloric and nutritional intake wreaks havoc on our bodies, disrupting the natural digestive environment and putting us at risk for chronic diseases. Also using quick fix methods makes it difficult to maintain results because they are simply not sustainable.

However when health is our primary motivator everything changes. Embarking on a fitness journey becomes a balanced and holistic process, focusing on improving one’s health and decreasing one’s risk for chronic diseases. When this happens weight loss becomes a by-product rather than the primary focus. A few months ago I started a new exercise program I designed for myself, and at a recent doctor’s visit found out that my blood pressure, blood sugar, resting heart rate, total cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol were perfect…and also that I lost 9 pounds. Guess what I was happiest about? Not the weight loss! I was thrilled to hear that I am proactively taking charge of my health and doing everything within my control to lower my risk of cancer and heart-related diseases. And I am also so proud of myself that I stuck to my goals and my workout schedule. Feelings like that don’t occur from popping a pill.

The bottom line is when we decide to eat better and move more because we want to be healthy, it becomes a sustainable lifestyle that we are proud to maintain. It is so important for us to remember and for us to teach young girls that feelings of pride and self-satisfaction stem from a lot more than how we look. Developing a positive self-image happens when we focus on healthy and holistic ways to better ourselves (mind, spirit, and body) as well as the world around us!

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