We asked 800 women in the U.S. to tell us if they’ve ever thought, “If I lost (insert amount here) pounds, I’d feel differently about myself.” An overwhelming 77 percent said yes, losing weight would change how they viewed themselves. That’s not such a surprising stat; a lifetime of being exposed to mass media could lead any woman to believe that being slimmer might make her happier too.
There are countless misconceptions about health, happiness, and what it takes to achieve both. 8fit’s mission is to empower people to live happier, healthier lives, so in a recent survey, we set out to debunk some of those misconceptions and dive deeper into the connection between our confidence and happiness to our physical well-being.
Giving it up
Many people – 51 percent of the women we surveyed, in fact – think that you have to make big sacrifices in order to have the physical appearance you want. That might be why 30 percent of women have gone to extremes to lose weight, while only 36 percent say they have a healthy relationship with food.
What kinds of sacrifices do women make to achieve their goals? 43 percent said they would give up their favorite food, while only 4 percent would give up date night with their boo. Friends instead would get the axe, with 17 percent willing to forego wine night with the girls if it meant seeing results.
But when asked which they’d rather abstain from for a month to achieve their goals, between sex or carbs, 48 percent said they’d would more willingly give up sexy time than their pasta dinner or morning bagel. Spoiler alert – you don’t need to give up either (but we do suggest opting for whole grains and enjoying them in moderation).
Good vibes only
Here’s the good news: 83 percent of the women we asked consider themselves confident, though only 2 percent said that how they feel when they look in the mirror brings them the most happiness in life. A rich support system in friends and family, excelling in their careers, and pursuing hobbies all gave them greater joy than their physical appearance. So why do we continue to believe that weight loss will make us happier?
Really, it’s not weight loss that makes us feel great, it’s having health. When asked if they feel their happiness is tied to their physical appearance, only 43 percent said yes. But when asked if they feel their happiness is tied to feeling healthy, 80 percent said it does. Health, much more so than the number on the scale or what we see in the mirror, impacts how we feel about ourselves and how we move through our day-to-day lives.
We didn’t ask women to define what “feeling healthy” means to them. Personal health is just that: personal. Maybe it’s being able to get from point A to point B easily, or sleeping well and eating vegetables with most meals. Maybe it’s being able to squat serious weight or run a certain mileage. Whatever health is to you, you know it when you feel it. Regardless of your health goals, we can all agree that a healthy diet and incorporating movement into your daily life are key to achieving it. When we feel healthy, we usually feel good about how we look too!
With all the misconceptions around health and weight loss, it can be easy to lose track of the ultimate goal: to feel healthy and capable. After all, 36 percent of women say that the thing that makes them feel the most confident is the knowledge that they’re “overall pretty awesome.” Ladies, cheers to that!
* Survey conducted via SurveyMonkey, respondents were 800 women ages 21-55 in the United States.