Movement and Physical Well-being
Body weight and health: Despite what popular culture tells us, body weight alone is not an indicator of health. This means that someone can be at a higher weight and be healthy—or at a lower weight and be unhealthy. To say that everyone who appears overweight is unhealthy or that anyone who looks thin is healthy is an inaccurate generalization. To accurately assess health, we have to take into account a person’s natural set point weight range (see more below), height, muscle mass, bone structure, body fat, genetics, activity level, eating patterns, and relationship to food.
So how do I know what a healthy weight is for me: Throughout your growing years (your teens), your body is still building bone and muscle, so your weight increases steadily. So, if your body is still growing, you may not have reached your natural range yet.
For the rest of you, one way to think about a healthy weight for yourself is to ask what weight range your body has naturally settled in for long periods of time. Pay special attention to times when…
Maintaining this weight was natural (e.g., you did not have to under or overeat to achieve it) You were eating well (in good health, not preoccupied with thoughts of food). You had the physical and mental energy to do the things you wanted.
The weight your body settled at during these times is likely your healthy weight range.
I want to lose weight, is there a healthy way to do so: That depends. If you’re eating a variety of foods according to your body cues, exercising for fun and health, and maintaining your current weight, your body is probably at a healthy weight for you. In this case, it is unlikely that there’s a healthy way to lose weight because your body is already at a healthy weight.
Trying to lose weight at this point is likely to disrupt your internal body cues, slow your metabolism, increase likelihood of bingeing, decrease body image, increase obsessive thoughts about food, lower self-esteem, and/or increase risk of developing an eating disorder.
Instead, you might benefit from focusing on the feelings driving the desire to lose weight and improving your body image through self-acceptance and compassion (see fact sheet: Body Image). You can also change things up while still maintaining healthy habits by trying new recipes or attempting a new sport.
If you believe your body is at a higher (or lower) weight than might be natural for you, you might want to change your eating patterns. This type of weight change might occur due to inactivity, over or undereating, or disconnection from your internal body cues, In this case, try not to focus on weight loss (or gain), but rather on restoring health.