Weight Loss Myopia

Is perfect the enemy of good?  I don't think it is.  I've seen too many people believe they need to be "perfect" with their nutrition in order to lose weight.

But willpower only lasts so long.

I always believe that we don't need to be perfect to see the success we want.  If we move the big rocks - sleep more, drink more water, find solutions to navigate the toughest part of our day or week - we're going to get 80% of the way there.

But the bigger problem?  The need to have a perfect diet stems from this fundamental belief: that weight loss is the only marker of a successful nutrition plan.  Or worse, that someone should only eat better if they want to lose weight.

Whatever happened to following a good nutrition plan just because it's good for us?

For example, many of us know that exercise alone won't make us lose weight. And as Biggie Smalls once so eloquently said, "if you don't know, now you know."

Many of us already exercise for the benefits besides weight loss.  These include:

  • Bone health
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Immune health
  • Decreased risk of certain cancers and diseases
  • Better, more restful sleep
  • Improved energy
  • Healthy brain function

Why don't we look at nutrition the same way?  The exact same benefits listed above - attributed to exercise - can often be achieved through a healthy diet.  Proper nutrition doesn't just make us look better, it should help us feel better too.

To further my point, I'm reminded of one of my first nutrition clients that I'll call "Jan." When I first met Jan, the only fruits and vegetables she consumed during an entire day were 0.75 cups of blueberries a day.  That's right.  Jan basically ate an all-brown diet, all day long.

After a few months of working with her, Jan steadily increased the amount of fruits and vegetables she ate and claimed to feel much better.  While she didn't see any significant weight loss - which I attribute to traveling for a stressful job, the stress of taking care of a family, and a general lack of sleep - she did see a significant change in her blood work.  She raised her HDL, or "good cholesterol," by 10 points.  She may have only lost a handful of pounds, but she was a healthier individual overall.

There are plenty of other examples of how weight loss can be a lagging indicator.  By building enough healthy habits, the weight will come off.  And we've all seen the opposite scenario, where "thin" can also be pretty unhealthy.

So is perfect really the enemy of good? No. Not if you're trying to be the healthiest you.