Shifting your focus from weight loss to good health

May 2020

Good Health - Mobile

Losing weight is often presented as the gateway to good health, but shifting your focus from weight loss to a healthy lifestyle is the key to making long-term changes that will last.


The power of a fitness community

Being part of a workout group is a powerful way of helping you achieve your fitness goals. Fitness communities offer a sense of belonging and motivation. A study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found that people tend to adopt the exercise behaviours of others in a group. In the worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2019, “group training” ranked second in the top 20 trends.

It is always good to be surrounded by likeminded people you can relate to, according to Olivia du Plessis, owner of LivFit fitness studio in Paarl. “You meet new people, make new friends and learn so much from each other. You also get a little extra motivation on those days when you are feeling a bit lazy, and you always have people cheering you on.”

If training in a public group setting isn’t for you, you can always exercise in the comfort of your own home without forgoing the support you need. The digital fitness industry has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, with a surge in the demand for online training programmes during the coronavirus outbreak while people are confined to their homes. Gyms and fitness coaches offer live workout sessions on digital platforms such as YouTube, which you can access anytime. There are also various apps available, such as Noom and FitBit Coach, which offer customised workouts to suit a range of fitness levels.

Why fad diets don’t work

Fad diets promise dramatic weight loss results, and while this makes them very popular, they deliver mostly short-term results. In addition, they can cause serious health challenges in the long run. According to the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, many fad diets are not based on research and prescribe dangerous eating practices.

"Focus on creating a lifestyle change instead of resolving to a short-term, quick-fix diet," says Rahaf Al Bochi, a registered dietitian and nutritionist.

Du Plessis agrees that strict dieting and unrealistic goals are not sustainable. “I believe that if you cannot do something forever, don’t do it at all. Whatever you are doing to lose weight, you will have to continue doing in order to maintain the weight loss. Focus on how you feel after a workout or a healthy meal instead of on the number on the scale. Live a healthy, fit lifestyle and the weight will take care of itself.”

Motivation should come naturally once you realise that living your best life means taking care of yourself and your body.

“You only have one body and it will either help or hinder you in living the life you want. So appreciate it and take care of it,” she says.

"Start by working with what you’ve got, even if it’s only three 20-minute walks weekly. Find something you enjoy and stick to it. Set small, achievable goals, such as three exercise sessions a week or drinking eight glasses of water daily. Don’t plan on losing 10 kg in a month. Focus on your health, not your weight. Love yourself enough to live fit.”

Good Health - Tablet