Is there such a thing as health at any size? Can you be fit and still appear overweight or obese?
I received an article in my ADA online journal yesterday that sparked my interest in this topic.
It is the belief of our society that better health and longevity is about being “thin,” whereas overweight is immediately connected to having poor health.
Thin and unhealthy
The truth is, as many of you know, you CAN be thin and unhealthy.
Just because you are not necessarily “fat,” doesn’t mean you are the picture of health. I know I would personally rather weigh 10 pounds more but be HEALTHY, than be really skinny but have poor eating and exercise habits.
Some of us spend our whole lives on a diet.
According to Linda Bacon’s book, “Health at Every Size,” focusing on weight-loss alone can actually cause damage itself because it brings with it psychological and emotional stress.
Such stress can lead to physical disease and constantly cycling your weight up and down can cause bodily inflammation, leading to cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Focus on getting Healthy
As a society, we need to quit trying to live up to an impossible standard of “thin,” and focus more on getting HEALTHY!
Look to fitness, your daily activity levels, and nutrient intakes more than just the number on the scale or how “big” you appear.
Actually, overweight in and of itself doesn’t pose a major health risk. You CAN be healthy and considered overweight.
But as I said in my post about finding your happy weight, you need to look at other factors of wellness.
Just because I said you CAN be healthy and overweight, does not mean I want you to interpret that to mean I WANT you to stay overweight IF you are practicing unhealthy habits.
There are MANY unhealthy habits that could be contributing to your excess weight.
First, ask yourself THESE questions:
- Do I regularly eat breakfast?
Eating breakfast is going to kick start your metabolism and get your energy going in the morning! I know it is one of those things that health professionals are ALWAYS harping on…but that is because it is TRUE!!
Those that are healthiest eat breakfast daily!! Try to eat within one hour of waking!! You owe it to yourself!
- Do I get 7-8 hours of sleep each night?
I was watching Dr. Oz as I was making dinner last night and he was discussing the health problems associated with lack of sleep! Mostly women were the ones guilty of getting a mere 4 hours of sleep a night!
Clear your mind and shut off distractions like tv and computers before you head to bed! Let the day GO and allow your body to recharge! Get some sleep!!
- Do I have trouble falling asleep?
As I mentioned above, if you have trouble falling asleep, chances are something is keeping your mind going. You are either worried, stressed, sad, angry, etc. Time to CLEAR YOUR MIND! Practice yoga, write in a journal, talk to a friend, etc.
Whatever you can do to wind down and clear your mind in the evening is going to help you fall asleep! Time to de-stress and finally get a good night’s rest!
- Do I exercise at least 4-5 times a week for 45-60 minutes OR 5-6 days a week for 20-40 minutes?
Let’s face it; MOST of us work pretty sedentary jobs. I know when I got my current job, my daily activity levels went from walking more than 5 miles a day without exercise, to less than 2-3 miles!
That is a HUGE cutback and I am one that TRIES to move as much as I can each day! All I’m saying is there are no excuses. If you have a non-labor intensive job, then you HAVE to exercise!! It WILL make you feel good if you just stick to it!
Make it your priority!!
- Do I carry my weight in my waist or my thighs? Is the pudge around my middle hard or can I grab it? (If you can grab it that is better than having visceral fat which forms around your organs).
I think most of us are aware by now that the hard, pot-belly fat is the “bad” fat. This is the fat that is suffocating your organs and keeping you UN-healthy!!
If you have a little junk in the trunk, embrace it. If you look like you are pregnant, something needs to change. Get active!! Limit intake of saturated fats! Lose a few pounds!
- Can I walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded?
If you get winded by merely walking up a flight of stairs, then you are out of shape and your heart needs strengthened!! I don’t mean I want you to be in marathon condition, but walking up a flight of stairs should NOT get you winded; if it does, something needs to change!
Get your cardio butt in gear and do something about it!! Build that endurance to strengthen your heart!
- Do I eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily?
“Eat Mostly Plants!” Thank you Michael Pollen for enlightening us with such a simple, yet BRILLIANT, concept. Base your diet around things from the Earth and your body will flourish! Plain and simple!
- Do I eat out more than 1-2 times per week?
A quick stop at the drive thru, lunch out with co-workers, drinks for happy hour….every time you eat out you ARE consuming more calories than you normally would if you eat at home. Even if you are conscious of portions, even if you choose the “healthier” options, you are STILL consuming more than you would by eating at home.
SO, the more you eat out each week, the more calories, fat, salt, sugar, etc you consume and the unhealthier you become. Think about it. Make a change.
- Do I often binge?
Binge eating is unhealthy. Why? Because it either means you are under eating throughout the day, unable to emotionally deal with the stresses in your life, OR plagued with unhappiness about your BEAUTIFUL body (that you don’t see). In any instance, get help. I’m serious.
These are difficult issues to address on your own. You need support. Things cannot change overnight or by themselves. Get help. It’s not fun to live that way.
- Do I often go all day with out eating?
Infrequent eaters. It may seem like you are nixing a lot of calories by going ALL day without eating, but such a thing can lead to binges, unnecessary cravings, lack of crucial nutrients, lack of energy, slowing of metabolism, etc.
Best thing you can do? Eat small, frequent meals often and fill them with nutrient packed foods!! Again, you owe it to your body! Make a change!
- Do I over-exercise?
What is over-exercising exactly? Is there such a thing? The answer is YES! Over-training happens, over-exercising happens, getting injured is the result. Do not let this happen to you!! Over-exercising can pull calcium from your bones, break down muscle tissue, cause serious injuries, and leave you feeling fatigued.
Do not punish yourself with exercising too much. If exercising multiple times each day for hours is the only thing that keeps you happy, then you have a problem. Please address it. Been there and done that and NOT fun.
This is just a sampling of key components to a healthy vs. an unhealthy lifestyle.
I know I might be a little too blunt or too harsh at certain points in this post, but the truth is, sometimes that is what it takes for people to wake and realize that they NEED to get healthy!!
Again, this DOES NOT necessarily mean losing weight; loving your body, accepting your size, eating well, getting active, are ALL interconnected!
It’s time to make a change in a world obsessed with size and see things a little differently.
Do you believe in health at any size? Have you read this book? (check on Amazon)