A person’s weight or BMI is not a sign of their level of health. As someone with a naturally athletic build and fast metabolism, I can assure you that these things don’t necessarily equal healthy. The problem is that even when you know and believe this, you find yourself looking at another, more slender, human and automatically having the preconceived idea that they are healthy (or healthier than you). This comes from years and years of quiet indoctrination. It’s no one’s fault but it is practically unavoidable once programmed into our subconscious. I’d like to start chipping away at the unintentional subconscious stigma that attaches skinny to being healthy.
Extra Weight but full of Health?
Weight and health is a tricky topic, what we see in our own bodies is seldomly what is real. Often someone with a little extra weight sees so much more than what there is. Then they see stick insects or muscle monsters running around across media platforms and it just gets worse. Meanwhile, having extra weight does not necessarily mean that you are not healthy. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a little extra handle here and there (Botticelli’s Venus does and she is simply exquisite to look at!).
If you carry extra weight but have easy mobility and you are comfortable in your body then you are most likely in good health. And when I say comfortable I am referring to not being in pain or suffering. Not discomfort as in you wish you could fit into a size 30. (Which is also just a number, by the way. Imagine if you were 7ft5 and wore a size 30… you would be a skeleton!). If you have a working formula that your body is happy with don’t change it! Rather be proud of yourself for being a healthy specimen just as you are. And when you see that Hollywood-rated beauty somewhere, try stopping yourself from automatically thinking that they are healthier or happier. Instead, try thinking about the fact that you are healthy and you know it. That is all that is important.
A very important side note is to also support those around you in this regard. If your “skinny friend” tells you they are feeling bloated, help them investigate it. Don’t fob off an inflamed gut just because it’s in a slender frame.
No Extra Weight but Don’t Feel Great?
For the other side of the story, the thin person who is constantly reminded that they have a slender frame (even by random aunties in shops, who were trained from young to believe that health and weight are the same thing). The person that eats everything and anything because they can. Listen to your body, don’t only listen to that person saying “eat it while you can”.
As a young girl, I was told many times to eat heartily and enjoy it while I can. Those around me thought I was healthy based solely on my physical appearance, and as a result, I too became convinced that my gut was unstoppable. So I kept eating, anything and everything I wanted. To this day I have not put on any weight, but by the time I hit 33 I had developed an assortment of digestive issues which eventually lead to having to give up my job, my exercise routines and, what felt like, everything I enjoyed in life.
Check out terms like TOFI and Normal Weight Obesity. And remember, don’t listen to the voice that says “eat it while you can”, rather eat it consciously and in moderation, and then maybe you “can” eat it for your entire life.
Be aware of what you are eating, or not eating and how it makes your body feel. Don’t be that person that won’t eat breakfast even though your body is screaming for it. Or the person that looks down and realises they ate four cupcakes in one go but only have a memory of eating two. Honestly, it helps me to close my eyes, put my hand on my stomach, and actually talk to my gut. Out loud, ask how it feels (this also greatly entertains my partner, apparently it looks funny). If you focus on your words and listen you will be amazed at how your body responds.
Remember, Low Weight does not equal Health
Reading this it all sounds logical and easy to do, but old habits die hard. Breaking the subconscious link between weight and health takes constant reminding. It will take time and practice to get there. This article serves as much as a reminder for myself as it is to inform others. Save your favourite phrases or articles and if you feel that you are falling off the tracks, reread something that inspired you before.
There are great benefits to be reaped if you can break away from linking weight to health. Whichever side of the story you are on.