The Best Way To Harm Your Health In The New Year? Go On A Diet – Illawarra Mercury

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What if resolving not to lose weight in the New Year was the best thing you could do for your health? After spending years battling an eating disorder as a teen, Unanderra woman Taylor Raschilla is one of a growing number of experts and lay people encouraging others to separate the idea of weight and health. “When I was 15 I noticed I was quite a bit bigger than everyone else in my year,” she said. “I knew I wasn’t healthy, but I didn’t know much about nutrition, so I just cut out a lot of food groups. I lost weight, but it was very unhealthy, and I developed an eating disorder. “Later, I gained a lot of the weight back.” Read more: COVID cases in Warrigal care centre confirmed Accredited practicing dietitian Maria Spanos said Taylor’s experience was the norm, not the exception. She works in private practice using a “health at every size” and non-diet approach – the pursuit of health without the pursuit of weight loss. “We have really strong scientific evidence that the vast majority of people who pursue weight loss will regain the weight and more within two to five years,” she said. “Weight cycling in that way leads to detrimental outcomes, like the exacerbation of medical conditions and the development of eating disorders. “We have evidence that taking the focus off weight loss and putting it back on the behaviors we can control, like self care and nutrition, leads to better health outcomes.” Ms Raschilla decided she did not want to spend her life battling an eating disorder, or worrying about her weight. So she began to educate herself about good health, undertaking a certificate IV in nutrition. “After I shifted my mindset to taking care of my body I did begin to lose weight, but that wasn’t my intention – I just wanted to be healthier,” she said. “Before I didn’t have a good relationship with my physical self or my mental self because I was punishing my body. “It’s so much more sustainable to focus on your health rather than your appearance.” Clinical psychologist Courtney Rudd agreed. She runs a private practice called the Wattle Tree Clinic in Wollongong, and works with a number of young adults who suffer from eating disorders. She said seemingly innocuous promotions of weight loss and wellness, like New Year’s diets, can promote rigid and obsessive thinking that is ultimately far more unhealthy than living in a larger body. “It’s a really complicated issue, and I work with young people with all sorts of body weights and shapes,” she said. “This idea of ‘taking control’ can be really problematic, even when it’s cloaked as wellness. “Anything that encourages rigid or obsessive thinking about food and weight is a problem, and New Year’s resolutions are so ripe for that kind of stuff.” She said the fear of being fat, and potential health risks, often lead to adolescents and adults engaging in behaviours that are far more harmful to their health. “Rapid weight loss and restrictive behaviours are much worse for your health than being overweight,” she said. “You’re a human, not a robot, and you can work towards health in a way that gives you the space to enjoy food and enjoy life.” Ms Raschilla said one turning point for her enjoying a healthy lifestyle was finding movement she loved, including weight lifting and pole dancing. She trains at Fly Studios with Jess Hill, who encourages clients to embrace what their bodies can do. “You don’t need to be skinny, you need to be involved in actively enjoying your life,” Ms Hill said. “I get a lot of self-punishers in, people who are constantly counting calories or hyper-exercising, and they’re miserable. They’re miserable when they’re doing it and they’re miserable when they feel they fall short. “The basis behind it is self-loathing, and that’s what we aim to fix. We don’t weigh or measure people, we encourage people to get in and have a go.” Ms Raschilla says now she has learnt to care for her body, be kind to herself and move in ways that bring her joy, she feels better inside and out. “I have more energy, I want to get out and walk, I want to get out and socialise, I don’t have that fear of being seen in public because I’m healthy and I’m mentally happier, and that’s what’s important,” she said. “That’s the biggest and most important difference to me.” She now shares her health journey online at FrankeeFiit on Instagram, and hopes to counteract some of the “toxic” fitness industry pages. As for New Year’s resolutions, both Ms Rudd and Ms Spanos said a good place to start is by looking at your values. “If health is something you value, think about how you would improve your health if weight was out of the picture,” Ms Spanos said. “Fitness and nutrition can certainly be part of that, but there are so many other factors that influence your health, like good sleep and stress management.” The Illawarra Mercury newsroom is funded by our readers. You can subscribe to support our journalism here. Sign up for breaking news emails below …

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What if resolving not to lose weight in the New Year was the best thing you could do for your health?

After spending years battling an eating disorder as a teen, Unanderra woman Taylor Raschilla is one of a growing number of experts and lay people encouraging others to separate the idea of weight and health.

“When I was 15 I noticed I was quite a bit bigger than everyone else in my year,” she said.

“I knew I wasn’t healthy, but I didn’t know much about nutrition, so I just cut out a lot of food groups. I lost weight, but it was very unhealthy, and I developed an eating disorder.

“Later, I gained a lot of the weight back.”

Accredited practicing dietitian Maria Spanos said Taylor’s experience was the norm, not the exception.

She works in private practice using a “health at every size” and non-diet approach – the pursuit of health without the pursuit of weight loss.

“We have really strong scientific evidence that the vast majority of people who pursue weight loss will regain the weight and more within two to five years,” she said.

“Weight cycling in that way leads to detrimental outcomes, like the exacerbation of medical conditions and the development of eating disorders.

“We have evidence that taking the focus off weight loss and putting it back on the behaviors we can control, like self care and nutrition, leads to better health outcomes.”

Ms Raschilla decided she did not want to spend her life battling an eating disorder, or worrying about her weight.

So she began to educate herself about good health, undertaking a certificate IV in nutrition.

“After I shifted my mindset to taking care of my body I did begin to lose weight, but that wasn’t my intention – I just wanted to be healthier,” she said.

“Before I didn’t have a good relationship with my physical self or my mental self because I was punishing my body.

“It’s so much more sustainable to focus on your health rather than your appearance.”

Clinical psychologist Courtney Rudd agreed. She runs a private practice called the Wattle Tree Clinic in Wollongong, and works with a number of young adults who suffer from eating disorders.

She said seemingly innocuous promotions of weight loss and wellness, like New Year’s diets, can promote rigid and obsessive thinking that is ultimately far more unhealthy than living in a larger body.

“It’s a really complicated issue, and I work with young people with all sorts of body weights and shapes,” she said.

“This idea of ‘taking control’ can be really problematic, even when it’s cloaked as wellness.

“Anything that encourages rigid or obsessive thinking about food and weight is a problem, and New Year’s resolutions are so ripe for that kind of stuff.”

She said the fear of being fat, and potential health risks, often lead to adolescents and adults engaging in behaviours that are far more harmful to their health.

“Rapid weight loss and restrictive behaviours are much worse for your health than being overweight,” she said.

“You’re a human, not a robot, and you can work towards health in a way that gives you the space to enjoy food and enjoy life.”

Ms Raschilla said one turning point for her enjoying a healthy lifestyle was finding movement she loved, including weight lifting and pole dancing.

She trains at Fly Studios with Jess Hill, who encourages clients to embrace what their bodies can do.

“You don’t need to be skinny, you need to be involved in actively enjoying your life,” Ms Hill said.

“I get a lot of self-punishers in, people who are constantly counting calories or hyper-exercising, and they’re miserable. They’re miserable when they’re doing it and they’re miserable when they feel they fall short.

“The basis behind it is self-loathing, and that’s what we aim to fix. We don’t weigh or measure people, we encourage people to get in and have a go.”

Ms Raschilla says now she has learnt to care for her body, be kind to herself and move in ways that bring her joy, she feels better inside and out.

“I have more energy, I want to get out and walk, I want to get out and socialise, I don’t have that fear of being seen in public because I’m healthy and I’m mentally happier, and that’s what’s important,” she said.

“That’s the biggest and most important difference to me.”

She now shares her health journey online at FrankeeFiit on Instagram, and hopes to counteract some of the “toxic” fitness industry pages.

As for New Year’s resolutions, both Ms Rudd and Ms Spanos said a good place to start is by looking at your values.

“If health is something you value, think about how you would improve your health if weight was out of the picture,” Ms Spanos said.

“Fitness and nutrition can certainly be part of that, but there are so many other factors that influence your health, like good sleep and stress management.”

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