Shayna Schmidt | Jan. 22, 2019

National Healthy Weight Week (January 20-26, 2019 this year) promotes lifestyle change, not a quick fix, to get you to your health and fitness goals. Healthy Weight Week was started twenty-six years ago to help people understand that health isn't about the number on the scale; it's much more about pursuing a sustainable, healthy lifestyle through moving your body, eating well, and practicing confidence.

Changing the conversation around health and weight

Your healthy weight is your natural weight, which is at least somewhat determined by your genetics. If you come from a family of larger or smaller people, you are likely to be larger or smaller. Achieving and maintaining your healthy weight is supported by healthful, enjoyable living that includes physical activity, mindful eating, effective stress management, adequate sleep and more. It is not a weight that is achieved through food restriction or excessive exercise.  

We acknowledge that it sounds a lot simpler than it may be in practice! Livekick personal trainer Catherine English says that chances are, "It's a long-term battle with which many of us have struggled. We tend to have a skewed perception of health and fitness due to the influx of social media and television that promotes diet culture." But reminding ourselves that every single body is different, and therefore requires different types of exercise and nutrition plans, perhaps can help us stop trying to try every fad thing we see on a #fitspo instagram page.

So what exactly is a “healthy” weight?

Uncontrollable elements that affect our bodyweight are height, bone density, body type (endomorph, mesomorph, ectomorph), and body composition (ratio of muscle to fat). Ryan Andrews at Precision Nutrition explains the different body types (image included below) and how each may react differently to food. Muscle & Strength takes it even further and recommends types of workouts for each specific body type. Many of us may not realize that different body types require and respond differently to training methods and nutrition plans. For example, the Muscle & Strength writer notes in his article that as an ectomorph, he learned that he needs to focus on minimum cardio at the gym, longer rest periods so that he can lift heavier, and consuming more calories! Here are some general exercise guidelines for each body type:

  • Ectomorph (Smaller, more delicate frame & bone structure. “The stringbean”): Since it’s harder for this body type to put on muscle, workouts should be short and intense, focusing on larger muscle groups. Take longer rests so you can lift more weight. Muscle & Strength recommends this workout.
  • Endomorph (Generally softer than the other types, usually of a shorter build with thicker arms and legs. Muscles are naturally quite strong, especially lower body. “Strong & sturdy”): Since endomorphs gain fat very easily, adding cardio and high-intensity interval training to a workout regime is always smart-- try the HIIT workout listed in the linked article or this interval workout done on a track!
  • Mesomorph (Larger bone structure, large muscles,  and a naturally athletic physique. “The athlete”): A combination of weight training + cardio is the recipe for this body type. Mesomorphs respond very well to weight training and see gains quickly, but they gain fat more easily than ectomorphs which is where the cardio (and nutrition) comes in. Muscle & Strength recommends this workout.

Ectomorph, Endomorph, Mesomorph Body Types

Small goals & healthy habits

The goal during Healthy Weight Week is that we do not obsess over a certain number on the scale or a set number of calories to consume. Catherine notes, "Creating long-lasting healthy habits takes some trial and error. Shifting your mindset is imperative in breaking away from needing to try the next fad thinking that it will change your life and magically give you the body of your dreams." She recommends starting by setting small goals for yourself each day, "whether that is adding an extra veggie to each meal, or setting an alarm on your phone to remind you about your workout for the day."

Positive body image is a huge factor in achieving health and fitness goals. A study at Stanford University School of Medicine found that 63 percent of participants who had a positive body image were more successful at losing and maintaining weight for a year, compared to a 26 percent success rate for those who were discontent with their bodies. So perhaps this teaches us that the first step is not food restriction and obsessive cardio, but instead turning inward to discover the origin of  some of these stories we tell ourselves about our bodies.

Even if just for this week - let’s throw the scale out the window, ignore the MyFitnessPal app, and work on loving our bodies. Each time we set out to do some exercise, to remember how amazing it is that this body can move like this! Move every day, eat whole foods not found in a package, and practice self-love. Livekick personal trainer Ventatia Zeelie adds, "To me, a healthy weight signifies adopting the habit of a continually balanced nutrition and exercise regime, creating a blissful feeling of confidence and security in your being."

Let's give it a shot, shall we?! Change our thinking and focus on these goals instead:

  • Practice gratitude for the amazing things your body can do (try “I get to…” instead of “I have to…”).

  • Discover your body type and embrace it for what it is and where it comes from (“I am grateful to you, Mom, for giving me these epic strong legs.”).

  • Set small goals and realistic health guidelines for yourself.

  • Focus on positive lifestyle changes and habits instead of quick fixes.

  • Work on establishing positive relationships with family, friends, movement, and food, in turn discovering the origin of the negative relationships.

  • Work on positive self-talk.

  • Eat a variety of foods that are not found in a package! Buy a cookbook and try some new recipes.

  • Move your body. Even short bursts daily is enough.

  • Relax. Take time out for yourself. Try yoga or meditation.

Let us know how it goes!