How do we know if weight loss is a healthy goal? The gents at Iron Culture continue their conversation about obesity this week with Dr. Nadolsky. who emphasizes the importance of the potential for psychological harms for folks who are endlessly attempting to lose weight. Eating and exercise disorders are things, of course, but there are plenty more folks for whom they may not count as technically disordered, but they have harmed their relationships with food, exercise, their bodies and their self-image due to many failed attempts of weight loss.
The ladies at Balance 365 encourage women to ask themselves 12 questions when they ask if weight loss is a reasonable goal for them. These questions do not include what is your BMI or what did you weigh just after high school. It sounds to me that Dr. Nadolsky also uses a series of questions to parse out if someone is determining they need to lose weight for healthy reasons or less healthful ones. One of the things I like about his approach is that as a competitive bodybuilder he understands that there’s a role for aesthetic goals while still managing to compassionately balance those desires with the physical and psychological realities of his patients.
I don’t know if weight loss is a healthy goal for you. I don’t know what level of fat loss, purely for aesthetic reasons, is healthy for me. Part of how I keep the goal healthy is to refuse to define the goal by a number. I’m not aiming for a goal weight or a goal physique. My intentions, as a purely recreational bodybuilder who never intends to step on stage and compete, is to enjoy the lifelong pursuit of muscularity in the healthiest manner I can happily maintain. I don’t know what physique that will result in. My goal isn’t the number, it’s the lifestyle.
What does a healthy, sustainable “bodybuilder-ish” lifestyle look like for me? I know for me a big piece of it is making sure I’m not constantly hungry. That isn’t sustainable. I know that I can’t currently recover from lifting for hours on end every day. That isn’t sustainable. But, I reject the all-or-nothing thinking that would suggest that if I’m not able (or willing) to push myself to those extremes, then the work isn’t worth it. I accept that I’m on a journey to find out what I can achieve within the healthy boundaries I can set for myself. And honestly, so far, it’s far more than I think most people would think is possible. Would it be possible for everyone? Absolutely not. But is it more possible for more people than they realize, if they can find their own versions of the healthiest, most sustainable patterns that work for them? I suspect so.
Body weight and body fat have become so mired in bullshit in our cultures, it can be difficult to see out of where we’re standing to the dry ground beyond. Important conversations like this one are how we start to find those steps to a new perspective, to what the ladies at Balance 365 call the messy middle. If you want to pursue fat loss, the only sustainable, healthy ways to do it is to start with honest reflection on how it may impact your psychological health. That can be difficult and long term work, but it’s worth it to get to a place of peace with the process.
Did you give the episode a listen? Have thoughts on this topic? You know I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find and follow Progressive Strength on Facebook to join the conversation over there.