Greatist readers want to lose weight.
In fact, every time we survey our audience of mostly millennials, that’s the No. 1 health goal. Nothing else even comes close.
We know millennials prioritize health more than any other generation, so it’s pretty surprising we have the exact same health goal as everyone else.
But it’s our reason for wanting to lose weight that’s so different.
Prior generations wanted to lose weight mostly to fit into society’s expectations of what they should look like. They wanted to lose weight to please others, not themselves. They wanted to “watch” their weight so everyone else didn’t have to.
But today we want to lose weight to feel better, more comfortable, less stressed out, more confident. Millennials want to lose weight for themselves, not others. We don’t want to “watch our weight”; we want to live our life.
It’s never the goal itself that makes something “healthy” or “unhealthy”; it’s the reason we want to accomplish it in the first place.
The “why” is super important. And that “why” is typically super different for every person of every kind at every stage.
But somehow saying you want to lose 10 pounds (OK, really 15) still seems like such a shameful admission. That’s silly—most of us want that. Most of the country probably wants to lose more weight than that.
So we should be talking about it. Otherwise, how can we find a healthier way to succeed at it?
I also worry the body-positive movement is holding us back, not pushing us forward.
Every body is beautiful. And everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin, unjudged by the body shaming that surrounds us. Of course.
And feeling that way is super hard and a constant internal struggle, so the more support you get, the better. No doubt.
Buuuuut sometimes it seems the body-positive movement shames people who want to improve, even if it’s not for others but for themselves. Ironic, maybe, but it’s true. And those people need help the most.
I wish I were always confident about how I look. I wish I never compared myself to others. But I do. All the time.
I don’t think there’s anything shameful about acknowledging there’s real work to do to lose weight— and that it’s hard and that it’s a part of getting healthier.
I wish I could snap my fingers and ta-da—we all love our bodies now! But that’s not the case and likely never will be.
And I don’t think it’s about asking people to change everything. Instead, I think it’s about embracing what people want to change when they want to change it. It’s about meeting them where they’re at. You have New Year’s resolutions? Let’s not start with all the reasons resolutions typically fail; instead, let’s talk about how they can be a great starting point.
Oh, and if we don’t talk about weight loss, someone else will. It’s been too easy for health and fitness companies to make money by preying on our body insecurities. To tackle weight loss the right way, we need to destigmatize it.
It’s OK to want to lose weight.
And it’s important we talk about it so we can work together to accomplish it in a way that sticks.
Here’s my puppy of the week:
Derek Flanzraich is Greatist’s founder and CEO. What’s Good is his take on the news, trends, and issues worth talking about in health and wellness, published every Monday. Sign up and get the column (plus puppy GIFs and other funsies) delivered early.