Wellness goals should have nothing to do with weight loss. I know that might sound surprising because it goes against diet culture’s narrative. But true health is based in how your body functions and how you feel. Health and wellness has nothing to do with how you look. Keep reading to learn 4 wellness goals to set and practice after you quit dieting that will actually improve your health.
Weight loss does not equal health.
I used to believe that when I lost weight, I’d be healthier. The problem is, I was willing to do whatever it took to lose weight and inches. And the way I lost weight was by engaging in UNHEALTHY behaviors. Disordered eating behaviors like undereating, eating “clean” (and feeling guilty when I ate anything off-plan), intermittent fasting, tracking macros, carb cycling and overexercising. The result was low energy, sleeplessness, hormonal imbalance, enlarged thyroid, brain fog, mood swings, bad body image and so much more.
Once I realized that health and wellness goals are completely separate from weight loss goals, I was able to make incredible changes to my life. Changes that actually served my body and helped me feel my best! I had been looking at wellness all wrong. Food is not an enemy. “Clean” food is not the answer to all our problems. And better health is not a guarantee in a smaller body.
I don’t think my story is unique. My diet history may be different than yours. But the restrictive mindset and consequences to our mental health are often the same. We live in a society that is constantly barking at us to lose weight. That thinner people are healthier. And appearance is everything. But what diet culture neglects to acknowledge is the greater importance of mental health, organ functionality, bloodwork levels (including hormones), fitness levels (strength, stamina, balance, flexibility), sleep patterns, mindset, and how you feel.
Once you recognize what wellness is, you can make small changes in your life that will have you feeling healthier than ever. You can easily—and sustainably—live a healthy lifestyle that truly serves YOUR body and helps you feel your best. Ready to get started? Let’s do this!
4 Wellness Goals to Set After You Quit Dieting
1. Reduce stress.
Life is stressful. Dieting ups the ante even more by causing food anxiety. And if you’re undereating, incorporating keto or low-carb days, doing HIIT and/or intermittent fasting. You’re triggering your stress hormones even more. And stress leads to weight gain!
10 ways you can reduce stress is to:
- Quit dieting. Delete your food tracking app. Stop following food rules.
- Evaluate your environment. Are you voluntarily exposing yourself to stressful situations?
- Set boundaries. Recognize your triggers and create a plan to reduce them.
- Consider if perfectionism and “hustle culture” has wormed its way into how you value yourself.
- Change the way you view the world & how you speak to yourself.
- Learn better coping tools.
- Go to therapy. It’s as important for preventative health as it is prescriptive health.
- Establish a self-care routine beyond bubble baths & at-home facials.
- Practice mediation, prayer, manifestation and/or stretching.
- Create time for hobbies and rest.
2. Consider how food makes you feel.
You’ve probably spent the vast majority of your life thinking about how food makes you look. Have you ever considered how it truly makes you feel? And I don’t mean the feelings of guilt and shame we learned from diet culture. I mean, how food feels on your tongue and in your digestive tract.
One of the most eye-opening realizations for me was when I learned that food anxiety can mimic the same side effects as food sensitivities or allergies. That’s how powerful our mental health is! For example, do you follow diets that vilify gluten and dairy? It so, you may have crafted so much guilt around those foods that now you experience stomach issues, heartburn, headaches and/or diarrhea. THIS IS NOT TO INVALIDATE THOSE WITH TRUE ALLERGIES OR INTOLERANCES. But, for me, I never had issues with dairy. But once Whole30 and Orthorexia got its hold on me, the mental load of feeling shame, guilt and failure by consuming dairy manifested as symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Wellness goals shouldn’t be based on removing “bad” foods. But rather, how you can add more nutrient-dense foods that help you feel energized, satisfied and nourished. Bring awareness to foods that don’t help you feel your best per se, but don’t swear them off forever. You simply become aware you might have some digestive issues on the occasions you decide to have them.
We recently took a family vacation to the beach. I enjoyed a couple days of Sour Patch Kids, pizza, french fries and beer. Did I feel awesome on the third day? Nope! But I didn’t spend a second feeling guilty because I had fun eating them at the time. I just resumed life as normal with eating more of the foods that feel best in my body. My wellness goal to eat intuitively results in a more balanced lifestyle with complete food freedom. Because all foods fit!
3. Drink water.
Drinking water might be the only suggestion that diet culture has right. It really is important to your body’s proper function. But be sure to keep the wellness goal on the positive impact water has on your body’s function—not weight loss. Where diet culture often ruins the importance of drinking water, is they start parading weight loss as the main benefit. But any water weight loss is a temporary fluctuation of how much water your body is holding on to (and further proof of how irrelevant your weight is to heath).
Why drinking water and staying hydrated is so important:
- Aids in digestion.
- Flushes out waste through perspiration, peeing & number 2.
- Lubricates your joints.
- Helps your body absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
- Improves circulation of blood.
- Increases your focus, alertness and short-term memory.
- Improves your mood & shown to lower anxiety (mental health!)
- Promotes clearer skin and collagen production.
4. Engage in movement you enjoy.
Wellness goals should be sustainable, which is why the phrasing here is “movement you enjoy.” If you’re forcing yourself to run when you hate every second of running, it’s no longer about wellness. It’s about weight loss. If you continually exercise in ways that you don’t enjoy, and feel anxious if you miss a workout. Then you’re creating a stressful situation for yourself (refer back to Wellness Goal #1 for why this matters.)
So how do you discover movement you enjoy? Well, you try a lot of different activities! You think back to your childhood and consider if there’s something you enjoyed back then that you can recreate today. For example, I teach barre because it connects me back to ballet without the extreme rigidity of ballet. I have clients who play basketball with their kids in the driveway. Others who swim laps or go for bike rides. Gardening, hikes, yoga, stretching, walking your dog. All movement is good movement when you enjoy doing it.
I know we’re inundated with the “latest research” on what types of exercise leads to fat loss the fastest. But that’s all just influenced by current trends and fads. CrossFit was all the rage for a couple of years. Then it shifted to HIIT. Now it’s Peloton and cycling. And the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo may have just spurred a new trend as well.
If you enjoy all those variations of exercise I mentioned—awesome! If you hate some or all of them—awesome! Exercise is not a one-thing-benefits-all situation. Figure out what feels best in YOUR body and do more of that.
Want help setting wellness goals?
I created a resource called Gain Wellness for this exact reason! The Gain Wellness Workbook is your 35-day guide to quit dieting and start setting wellness goals that actual improve your health. Purchase your digital copy for $19 by filling out this form below and submitting payment via PayPal. It will be instantly delivered to your inbox, along with weekly coaching check-ins from me!
Gain Wellness 35-Day Self-Guided Workbook