The mental perks of weight loss


This month, the Parkview GO challenge is all about shedding unwanted pounds and revealing a healthier, happier you. While we know the physical benefits of this goal, Jill Zahm, RN, MSN, nurse navigator, Parkview Center for Healthy Living, shares with us some of the mental perks to dropping extra weight.

Achieving a healthier weight can improve blood pressure and lower the risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers. But did you know there are wonderful benefits to your mental health that come with weight loss as well? Losing weight often gives us confidence to love our body and, in turn, ourselves. That confidence allows us to see that it’s not the number on the scale that defines who we are and allows us to release some of the emotional baggage that we have been carrying around along with that extra weight.  When you take time to focus on yourself and your happiness, finding a balanced life where all aspects – mind, body and spirit – work well together, becomes much easier.

Even losing a few pounds can have a positive impact on symptoms of depression. The International Journal of Obesity reported in 2011 that simply taking action, such as exercising more or eating less, can help ease depression. And a multitude of studies have proven that exercising releases brain chemicals that actually make you feel happier.

Weight loss can also give you a sense of empowerment to take positive steps toward a healthier you. Knowing that you have decreased your risk of disease and disability can give you the motivation needed to take other positive steps, such as becoming more social or pursuing a goal you may have failed to meet in the past.

Many who have lost weight report that they feel better in general, and that their self-esteem, body image and quality of life improved as they made the necessary lifestyle changes to lose weight, such as eating healthier and moving more. When we fuel our bodies with healthy food, proper hydration and movement, we will in turn feel better, body and mind.