Redefine “Healthy”

It really irks me when people make sweeping judgements of people just by looking at them. It’s like the ultimate “don’t judge a book by its cover”.

I mean, seriously? How do you define “healthy”? The majority of the time, it’s based on how a person looks:

  • Slim/slender build
  • flat stomach
  • good muscle tone
  • waist smaller than hips
  • bright skin and shiny hair
  • strong nails and straight teeth
  • good cardiovascular health
  • good strength
  • eats healthy diet

The unfortunate truth is that most people stop at the physical traits of what is believed to be “healthy”.

This all came about the other week when I was heading out on one of my runs. One might look at me and consider me as unhealthy because of my physical shape – yes, I’m working on my physical health, but to look at me at this time, someone might make sweeping judgements about my lifestyle – and chances are, they’d be wrong!

Anyhow, as I’m heading out on my run, it’s lunch, so downtown is busy. A small group of people were walking towards me and the 3 ladies in the group were all smoking. I couldn’t help but think “that’s a shame”, not only because smoking is a disgusting habit with proven health consequences for the person smoking and those around them, but also because all three women, based on physical appearance, would be considered “healthy”.

This needs to change.

I read a study not that long ago (I wish I could find it so I could link/reference it) but it’s healthier to be “overweight” but active than “normal” weight and sedentary.

Let that sink in! It’s better to be overweight and active than normal weight and sedentary.

And this is exactly why diet culture needs to change; losing weight won’t make you healthy. Shrinking yourself won’t make you healthy. Losing the weight but having an unhealthy mind still makes you unhealthy.

There is SO many more factors to take into consideration when it comes to your health:

  • do you have a positive mindset?
  • water intake
  • sleep quality and quantity
  • meaningful relationships
  • getting outside
  • doing meaningful activities
  • servings of fruits and vegetables

Health is so much more complex than what a person looks like. Physical appearance should only be considered an indicator – but it’s probably one of the least reliable! (BMI being THE least reliable!). And don’t forget, genetics plays a major roll!

Now, yes, there’s certain things that can be associated with having a larger body – heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, certain cancers – but unless someone is a doctor and pulls a full spectrum blood test, there is NO WAY a physical shape can be deemed healthy or unhealthy. My dad was diabetic, and even despite the fact I’m about 200 lbs, when my doctor sent me for blood tests, my blood sugar was beautiful – not to mention my cholesterol, thyroid is good, good bladder/liver function. My genes may indicate that I could be prone to diabetes, but because I am active and don’t eat much processed foods, my blood work was perfect! So even though my weight says I’m obese according to BMI, my blood work would indicate that I’m perfectly healthy.

However you measure your health, make sure it doesn’t hurt your mental health. Your mental health is far more important than any physical shape – take care of your head and heart and your body will follow.

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