By: Madeleine Ortiz
A friend of mine recently told me about an experience of digging through an old box of photos and pulling out a picture of herself from a few years prior. Even though she spent most of those earlier years discouraged by her size and planning to lose weight, she now yearns to “look like that again.”
And while frustrating for many, this scenario is far from uncommon. Obesity expert Dr. Judy Shiau of the LEAF Weight Management Clinic in Ottawa, states that “the natural course of weight is to go up over the years.” Simply put, even if someone does not feel like they’ve changed their daily habits enough to gain weight, their body will attempt to put on an extra pound or two a year anyway. Over the course of a decade, that extra pound or two can add up to ten or twenty extra pounds in total.
There is some good news, however, when it comes to this seemingly cruel phenomenon. Dr. Shiau tells us that because it’s hard work just to keep weight where it is now, not gaining weight is sometimes as big of a win as losing it. “Weight success can be purely just keeping [your] weight steady.”
Instead of beating ourselves up over not losing weight, perhaps people should shift towards celebrating the true accomplishment that maintaining one’s weight can be. See health not as a single number, but a variety of health indicators. Danielle Aldous RD, CDE, and a colleague of Dr. Shiau at the LEAF Weight Management Clinic, says that changing how one eats can make a bigger impact on one’s life than what can be seen with the naked eye. “Even if changing your food habits doesn’t change the number on the scale,” she says, “you can see improvements in blood sugar, sleep habits, self-esteem, your relationship with food, blood pressure, cholesterol, the way your clothing fits, and more.”
So tell the friend who loves to leaf through photo albums not to be so hard on herself when the scale says the same thing it did five years ago. Tell her she’s a winner for her steadfast dedication to her health.
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