That was the subject of an email that I recently received from “Prevention” magazine.
I hate this.
Not only because it perpetuates what I think is a very poor reason to lose weight, but because I buy into it at least a little. I am tempted to think that a size smaller would be better than what I am now, even though I know that smaller than I am not is probably not healthier.
If it were just this one little email, I would probably have laughed. But the email is a symptom of a pervasive attitude in our society.Â What woman, even a healthy weight, doesn’t at least wonder after reading and hearing and seeing examples of the message: DO I need to lose a dress size? Am I good enough? When will I be good enough?
Why is fitting into a smaller pair of jeans not a good reason to lose weight? Because it ties into outward appearance, and there are two good reasons why this is a bad motivation.
1. It is temporary.
It is very likely that your motivation has a short term duration. You want to look good on the beach, at a wedding, a reunion, etc. Or you want to impress or show up someone. Once those goals are achieved, your motivation disappears. But even if you didn’t have such short term needs, you face another hurdle.
When you first lose noticable weight, people notice you. You get lots of compliments. But whether you keep it off or gain it back, the attention you recieved for your initial achievement fades. Why work so hard to keep it off, then? You might not actually think that, but the let down is still there andÂ thatÂ motivation to continue working hard is no longer there.
2. It is subjective.
The one constant inÂ fashion and beauty is that it is inconstant. Once upon a time, being large and pale was attractive because it meant you could afford to eat plentifully and didn’t have to stoop to outdoor labor.Â Now, those two attributes are characteristics of a lower socio-economic status. What is in fashion is what marks you as well to do – as successful. But that doesn’t always mean healthy.
What weight you or others think you look good at, and what weight is healthy may not be the same. You certainly can’t rely on dress or pant sizes to accurately portray your health â€“ those change all the time. I literally have a size 10 pair of pants and a size 4 pair of pants that both fit me well.
While it is good to look your best, it is not good to base your health decisions on how you look and it is especially poor judgment to base them on a subjective, non-specific, and non-individualized suggestion coming from someone who could stand to profit from the poor body image they encourage by telling you that you can lose a dress size by some holiday.
But if those are not good reasons, then why should you lose weight?
Maybe you shouldn’t. Really. There is an ideal weight range for you, and if you are there, congratulations! Nothing anyone else says about your weight matters.
If you are overweight enough that it effects your health, you need toÂ lose weight to feel good on the inside, and I’m not just talking self esteem here. You need toÂ be strong, calm in the face of stress, have endurance, have low blood pressure, and low cholesterol. Those count much more than your dress size or what the the media says you should look like.
In short, who cares about what you look like on July 4th? You have the rest of your life and you owe it to yourself to be in the best health possible for you – to be fit, strong, and ready to take on anything.