For so many people, weight loss is the first step on the journey to wellness. I’m sure that doesn’t come as a surprise to most of you. After all, when asked about their overall wellness, the first thing most people say is that they could lose a little (or a lot) of weight.
Many elements contribute to overall wellness, but we tend to put weight at the top of the list. And for good reason. As a society, we have made an industry out of weight loss. You can’t watch a television program, surf the web, or read a magazine without someone telling you that you will be so much better if you just lose the weight. It may not be the only ingredient to a fulfilling life, but it is certainly the one most of us focus on.
Why? Because weight is one of the most visible signs that something in life is out of balance. It is also one of the easiest things to measure. That is not a judgemental statement. All things being equal, if we eat properly, exercise enough, manage stress effectively, get enough sleep, and hydrate well, then weight control should not be an issue. However, if someone is struggling with weight, chances are there is a problem with at least one–and usually more–piece of that equation.
If you are dealing with a weight issue, you are probably well aware of all the health risks. And yet, that is not enough for most of us to make any kind of positive, lasting change in order to lose the weight. Part of the reason for that is that the long-term effects of being overweight are just that–long-term. They can be very hard to visualize and besides, they usually happen to other people.
In order to lose weight and keep it off, you need to find your reason. Sometimes it is as simple as wanting to look good for a vacation. Other times it may be about shining at a wedding or a reunion. Those may seem superficial, but there are deeper roots in each case. It is about self-esteem and self-acceptance. Sometimes it is about wanting to be there to see your child or grandchild grow up. Reasons may be different, but they are all equally important.
We often use our physical appearance not as an excuse, but as a shield. Our weight protects us from disappointment. We can’t find a relationship because no one would want to date us like this. It’s safer just not to try. Or what if you lose the weight and still no one is interested. Or perhaps you don’t want to interview for that promotion because you don’t fit the corporate look. There are so many ways that we use weight as a defense mechanism.
Wellness is defined as the combination of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, not just the absence of illness or the shedding of extra pounds. When you take that first step, and make the decision to take control of your weight something begins to happen. You start by focusing on a number, and then think about how you will get there. You examine your nutrition, exercise, stress management, sleep, and hydration. All play key roles in weight management. Sometimes that is enough to get you to your goal. Oftentimes, however, other issues come to the surface.
A weight loss journey is not just a physical one. Many times it is one of mental exploration as well. That is why weight loss is the first step in the journey to overall wellness. It opens the door to so many areas of self-exploration, growth, and change. It is a visible, measurable aspect of wellness that can lead to so much overall personal discovery and satisfaction.
For most people, it is definitely a step worth taking.