Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Does happy mean thin?

Yesterday we talked about improving mood and increasing our happiness quotient. Today, let's explore what weight has to do with happiness. If you're like most women, weight is something you think about often.

Although it's true that 69 percent of Americans are shown by studies to be overweight or obese—and 33 percent of Americans are trying to lose weight—studies also show that weight loss doesn't necessarily make people any happier. That said, for those who lose large amounts of weight and are then able to participate more fully in life, those study results may not apply. Who doesn't want to be active with their young children, for example? If it improves quality of life by a large degree, weight loss may well increase happiness. But it's not a guarantee for everyone.

Studies do show that people who lose 5 percent of their body weight over four years were more likely to report a depressed mood than those who stayed within 5 percent of their original weight. That's surprising, isn't it? We always seem to think we'll be happy once we take off a few pounds.

For me, what many of these study results say is that perhaps in the end, moderation is the best route. Eat in a healthy way, exercise as best you can and monitor all your health issues. Happiness isn't necessarily found at a certain weight—or at a particular level of workout activity each day. We each need to find that place where we feel good and avoid that place where we become obsessive about either eating or exercise. Let's not peg our happiness to weight loss. It's much more complicated than that.

I'd love to hear your reaction to these studies. What's been your experience?

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