Which is more important: nutrition and diet, or self-care practices?

Rosalie, one of the women in our Facebook Community, asked me, "Would you say the diet component plays a bigger role than the self care practices/rituals?"

Great question!

Most people I meet who are trying to lose weight only focus on diet and exercise, but not on self-care.

I can understand why, because fixing our weight seems like something we can do by monitoring our food and working hard at the gym, whereas making time for yourself to relax, journal, take a bath, get a massage - it's hard to imagine that these things can have a direct impact on our weight. 

But they do! So my short answer is that I'm leaning towards self-care as needing slightly more attention than food. Let me explain.

Which is more important? Self-Care or Nutrition?

Clues that Self-Care takes precedence

Have you ever gone on vacation worried that you'll gain weight, but wound up coming home only to discover you lost weight? And you were so confused because you ate foods that weren't on your diet?

Sometimes, just being utterly happy and relaxed can help our bodies with weight regulation - even if you're not eating the best quality foods all of the time. 

Also, you might notice that many people who have success with long term weight loss had a turning point in their lives. Maybe you've heard people say any of the following:

  • I lost X pounds after I moved to another city
  • I lost X pounds after I broke up with my boyfriend
  • I lost X pounds after I changed jobs
  • I lost X pounds when xyz happened and I realized I'm worth more

Let me give you two examples. When I was working at a corporate job, my manager left to work for another company. When I met up with her many months later, I noticed she had lost around 20 pounds and she said that it's because she was no longer working a night shift which made it difficult for her to eat at regular hours and to get proper sleep. 

So, simply changing up her work hours from a 1pm-10pm shift to a 9-6 shift had a positive impact on her eating and sleeping patterns.

I also read an article about a woman who found out that her husband was having an affair with a younger, attractive woman. She found out that her husband called her some nasty word about her weight, and she realized that she needs to treat herself and believe in herself more than any other person. So for her, it was a big shift in mindset that led to self-care. 

I find it rare to find long term weight-loss success stories that involve pure will power. It does happen, but whether will power works long term or not is the question. 

So the point is, there is a major shift happening in an important part of peoples lives that is suddenly changing their environment, their time schedule, their relationships, their emotional well-being, etc. These all take great part in your weight loss success. 

What is self-care, anyways?

I tend to think of "self-care" in a much bigger scope than the typical definition. In general, self-care is about making time for yourself to do something that serves you. It could be meditation, journaling, exercise, getting a facial - something that helps you be a better version of yourself. 

But to me, I also think that self-care is about making choices that don't cause you to compensate your happiness or take too much of your energy. So it isn't just about re-energizing; it's also about making sure you're not expending too much of your energy in the first place. 

That means choosing a job that isn't overbearing, having relationships that aren't toxic, living next to a natural grocery store instead of a McDonalds - setting up your environment for success.

What if you can't change your circumstance?

Making big changes in your life to your job, relationships, living location - often times, these aren't things you can change over night. That's where the typical definition of self-care comes into play where you make time to have a moment to yourself. 

If you're really stressed out, you need to have an outlet so you don't internalize your emotions and have stress hormones keeping you from body balance. This could be journaling, getting a massage, meditating - something that you feel comfortable doing that rebalances you.

Also, this is where good quality food comes into play. For example, if you're a jet setter and have a busy business schedule with travel and client meetings, then focusing on having good quality food is going to support you through your schedule when you can't change your situation. 

What if everything seems relatively fine and I just want to lose a bit of weight?

If you aren't really stressed out or overwhelmed by things happening in your life and you still are looking to lose a bit of weight, then I still think self-care is the most important. 

The reason is because you're becoming more in tune with your body when you take a moment to connect with yourself. Simple making time to check in with yourself is going to help you understand more about what kinds of foods you really like, when you're actually hungry, sleep, have to go to the bathroom, etc.

You become more aware of your needs and speak more kindly to yoursef, and that in itself can impact your weight loss. 

What's your favorite form of self-care?

Mine is salsa dancing, going for a walk, facials, massages, and yoga classes. What about you? Leave a comment!