Unfortunately, the media tends to have a tunnel vision approach when it comes to health and wellness. Various news and media outlets focus on celebrities or individuals in the public eye, scrutinizing their body weight and looks and leading many young women to believe that the number on the scale is all that matters, particularly when it comes to obtaining overall good health.
However, in recent years, a movement has been underway. Health at Every Size (HAES) strives to take the emphasis off of weight, decreasing the stigma attached to obesity and overweight individuals, and place more focus on the development of healthy habits. It supports the idea that no matter what size you are, you have the ability to get healthy.
So, let’s dive into this topic a little deeper! When it comes to getting healthy, what other factors can you focus on outside of weight? And how can you get healthy at any size?
Why Weight Isn’t An Accurate Health Measurement
While being obese or overweight is a risk factor for various chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, being underweight has equally as many risks. Thus, the common comparison between the health of a “bigger” person versus a “thin” person isn’t entirely accurate.
When researchers at the University of California examined the data of 40 000 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, they found that about 50% of overweight individuals actually had normal blood lipid and glucose levels. At the same time, 30% of individuals with a healthy weight had significant and potentially hazardous blood lipid and glucose levels, indicating that weight isn’t the end-all, be-all when it comes to overall health.
At the end of the day, healthy lifestyle habits and behaviours trump the weight factor every time. In other words, the pursuit to be as skinny as possible is on its way out, making way for new (and actually healthy) health trends. So, say goodbye to restrictive fad diets that get you nowhere. It’s time to broaden our focus.
Other Health Factors You Should Focus On Instead
Dropping a few pounds doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be healthier. So, what does?
This truth is that it’s all in the actions you take. You can be “bigger” but also fit and healthy. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, turn your attention to:
- How you feel/your mood
- Your sleep quality and quantity
- The variety of nutrients you consume
- Eating more whole and real foods
- Exercising a minimum amount each week (and finding a type of exercise you enjoy)
- Quitting smoking (if you’re a smoker)
- Having sustained energy throughout your day
- The regularity of your menstrual cycle (and associated symptoms)
- Limiting or reducing alcohol or other substances
- Managing and reducing stress
And know that the occasional treat isn’t anything to feel guilty about!
Life is all about enjoying everything in moderation. This doesn’t mean cutting out whole food groups or beating yourself up over something you eat. Instead, eat when you’re hungry. Exercise regularly. Do the things that make you feel good.
How to Develop Healthy Habits at Any Size
Building healthy habits is often easier said than done. At the same time, it’s important to remember that perfection doesn’t actually exist. It’s okay to make mistakes. And when you do, try to plan how to lower the chances of it happening again. Use any mistakes as a learning curve.
Overall, developing healthy habits starts with a plan. Set goals for yourself, such as eating out only once a week or performing a workout twice a week. Make them realistic, meaning ensure they are goals that are actually attainable. For example, if you’ve never worked out, it might not be the best idea to start with four days a week. Instead, start with one and slowly build your way up.
Your plan should also involve ways you can set yourself up for success. Does having your gym clothes out and ready for you to put on in the morning help you get to the gym? Can you stock up on healthy and whole foods and not bring pre-packaged and processed foods into your home to make easier choices?
While creating healthy habits, it can also help to focus on your “why.” Maybe you want to have more energy to do more throughout your day. Or perhaps you want to feel better and experience fewer digestive discomforts. Whatever your “why” is, focus on that.
Can You Actually Be Healthy at Every Size?
The simple answer: Yes!
Health isn’t a number. Rather, it’s a collection of a variety of different factors that don’t necessarily include the number on the scale.
It’s further important to note that many health outcomes are driven by economic, social, and environmental factors, which means that many people have predisposed disadvantages. This is partially why it’s crucial to move the focus away from weight, and instead, focus on being physically and emotionally healthy — no matter your size.
Undeniably, the relationship between weight and health is very complex. Yet, this is your sign to start taking your emphasis off of your weight and focus it on other factors that are more indicative of overall health.
If you’re curious to learn more about how you can obtain optimal health and wellness, the Corydon Physiotherapy team is here for you. With our in-clinic physiotherapists, you can learn what areas you should focus on for your health and fitness. With dietitian and nutrition services, we can also help you create a balanced and healthy diet to help you feel your best. Contact us at 204-900-8297 to book your appointment today!