More than a Number: Why We Need to Redefine Health beyond Size and Weight

If you asked yourself the question, “What does it mean to be healthy?”, what are the first things to come to mind?

If how much you weigh was one of the first things to pop in your head, you are not alone.

For decades, weight has been a defining factor of health, but why?

In general, we live in a culture that makes assumptions about people based on their appearance and body size. Unfortunately, this can create severe misjudgments about individuals while contributing to weight stigma.

Perhaps one of the more damaging rhetoric that comes from this is the idea that our weight is the singularly defining factor of our health, and in a broader scope, our worthiness as individuals.

With so much emphasis put on weight, many people spend years of their lives attempting to fit into an arbitrary standard of health and wellness. It’s no wonder that the weight loss market and diet industry is a multi-billion dollar business [1]. Weight loss is often prescribed as a means for becoming healthier, and sadly, other factors that would better support overall health are often ignored.

Defining Health Beyond Weight and Size

The reality is that constant obsession about weight is an unhealthy way of living. In other words, merely focusing on weight loss as a solution to becoming healthier is a false premise. When we focus on weight as the only defining factor of health, we completely neglect the fact that we are multifactorial beings that require nurturing on many levels, including physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Our health, therefore, is not merely how much we weigh. In fact, the majority of the time, our weight has nothing to do with the number that is our weight. Instead, our health and wellness are defined by things like:

  • Being part of an engaging community and healthy relationships
  • Having the capacity to pursue things that stimulate our intellect and creativity
  • Being able to eat foods that are satisfying and nourishing regularly
  • Engaging in regular physical activity and movement that feels good in our bodies
  • Keeping mental health a priority and having healthy coping skills
  • Sleeping adequately and regularly

These are all incredibly crucial elements of health that just cannot be assessed by a scale or determined by someone’s weight. Many people may be at an “ideal weight” according to our society’s arbitrary standards, but again, that doesn’t mean that they are indeed healthy in all aspects of their lives.

Moving away from the scale as a defining sense of health gives a person the freedom to pursue aspects of wellness that are healing and liberating. When health is watered down to what the scale says, there are limited ways to truly improves one’s health over a lifetime. In fact, a weight-centric approach to health can actually be more damaging to a person in the long-run. Research has found that weight-related guilt and shame is actually associated with a higher risk of eating disorder symptoms and behaviors [1]. There is a better way to pursue health, and it has nothing to do with focusing on weight.

Focusing on Your Health Outside of Weight

If you have felt stuck in the superficial definition of health or are always worried about your weight, it’s important to know that you can be free of this for good. You have the capacity to create a life that allows you to thrive in the most real sense without feeling chained to a scale or needing to know what you weigh.

For starters, here are some ways you can begin improving your health without focusing on the scale:

  1. Get rid of your scale! Constantly weighing yourself is not good for your mental health.
  2. Surround yourself with a caring community who loves and supports you.
  3. Work on developing positive coping skills to help you overcome stressors.
  4. Identify and eliminate any unnecessary stressors in your life, like an overloaded schedule or a toxic relationship.
  5. Regularly and consistently nourish yourself well and move your body in ways that feel good to you.
  6. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep! Sleep deprivation can take a serious toll on your physical and mental health.
  7. Ask for help when you need it. Getting professional help can be an essential part of your wellness and self-care.

Remember – weight is merely a measure of your body in relation to gravity. It is just a measurement. It can’t tell you the big picture of your health, nor can it measure your worth or value as a human being. You were made for so much more than this!

If you have struggled with taking care of yourself or need some professional guidance and support in healing your relationship with food and your body, please reach out to our caring team at The Meadows Ranch today. You deserve a life of total freedom. Whatever your story or past has been, we can help you get there.


[1]: Craven MP, Fekete EM. Weight-related shame and guilt, intuitive eating, and binge eating. Eat Behav 2019. 13;33:44-48. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2019.03.002. [Epub ahead of print]