A growing movement insists that it’s harmful for overweight and obese women and men to focus on weight loss, but here is why they are very wrong.

If you want to lose weight, I encourage you to focus a lot on weight loss instead of letting the “embrace your size” camp make you feel guilty or that you’re headed for trouble.

Critics of focusing on weight loss believe this can lead to self-depreciation. As a personal trainer I’ve had clients feeling this way before they came to me, and then NOT feeling this way after I helped them lose weight.

“As a practicing bariatric physician, I have the opportunity to see the manifestation of pathology associated with excess weight and obesity,” says Dr. Richard Kelley, MD, author of “The Three-Hour Appetite” and the ebook, “The Fitness Response ‘Diet’ for Women.” A bariatric physician specializes in the treatment of obesity.

The pathology that Dr. Kelley speaks of includes high blood pressure, type II diabetes, chronic orthopedic damage, increased risk of heart disease, sleep apnea and deep vein thrombosis (blood clots that can travel to the lungs and be fatal).

“I understand that individuals don’t necessarily want to focus on the negative aspects of excess weight, but to ignore the risks that come along with overweight or obesity is just putting one’s head in the sand,” says Dr. Kelley.

Critics believe that zooming in on losing weight can lead to self-hatred.

This is over-generalizing and paints focusing on weight loss as something sinister. There are all sorts of reasons for self-hatred.

Ask yourself this: If you like yourself, why would focusing on loss of body fat (even if you didn’t lose the weight) make you hate yourself? It just doesn’t make sense, from a layperson’s perspective.

Many people who focus on weight loss do so for health reasons, and should not be discouraged from doing this.

Embracing one’s large body is not going to ease the pain of their osteoarthritis or lower their high blood pressure, but weight loss will improve these conditions.

Becoming fit and healthy should also be at the forefront, not just losing the weight. In fact, when you strive to become stronger, faster and healthier, you become more motivated to stick to healthy eating habits and a commitment to exercise.