So can we really be healthy at any size? Fit and fat? Well, that depends on your definition of healthy.
The Healthy At Any Size campaign gets a lot of attention in January. Their website says:
"Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages:
- Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
- Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
- Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital."
But did you notice my key word? Emotional health at any size is the key. Because here's the thing: yes, dieting is a problem, but fat is also a problem.
I recently conducted a wellness program with a group where health as social responsibility came up as a conversation topic more than once. As I listened to a spontaneous discussion on the role we each have as members of society to maintain a healthy weight and body, I thought of our over-burdened health care system. So many of the health issues we face each day are related to diet and lifestyle. If those things changed, and we became healthier as a society, and we had less need for health care, how would that change our nation?
I've read many, many, many success stories of people who have lost tremendous amounts of weight. I've not found any that cited doing nothing as their strategy. No, there are plenty of accounts of starting daily walking routines, learning about nutrition, counting calories and measuring portions, finding supportive networks, making determined lifestyle changes, and putting a lot of hard work into changing their bodies.
Yes, you can be overweight and strong. And yes, you can be overweight and aerobically fit. And, yes, you can be skinny as a rail and very unhealthy. Size is not the whole picture of health, but obesity is more than just the size of your body. Despite what some fat acceptance advocates say, obesity leads to heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, fertility issues, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, some cancers, and more. It is a problem, and you can deal with that and love yourself.
I've been overweight, and I've dealt with the intense emotional issues that come with it. I've failed I don't know how many times at managing my weight; so many times that it became my life's work to succeed at it and help others do the same. But I am on the other side now because I didn't accept an unhealthy and unfit body as my 24/7.
It was not easy. At times, it still isn't.
But managing my weight is about more than not being fat. I loved myself (myself, not my size) when I was a size 16, but that didn't make me healthy. I love myself at a size 4, too. And, I get the absolute joy of living in a hard-won healthy body every day. One that I shaped because I had the courage to admit that there was something better out there for me.
Let January be a month of positive steps towards a healthier body - physically and emotionally. Get out there and get healthy. You can love yourself at any size, but your health might still need some work. The good news is you can totally do it.