Updated: Nov 29
Our culture has trained us to believe that pursing health is the same thing as pursing weight loss because we are systematically taught that healthy = thin.
Look at any advertisement for products or services related to health and fitness, and thin, able-bodied people are used to sell whatever is being sold.
And they're not the only industry that does that.
In fact, our medical systems use the BMI to classify what a healthy body looks like and what it doesn't - meaning someone who is not in a thin body (or having a BMI of 19-24) is not at a "healthy weight" and therefore unhealthy. Which is a bunch of crap (hear more about the BMI here, and here).
And since health is SO much more than just the size of your body, this is a far too limited scope for what health actually is.
If the pursuit of weight loss were the same pursuit of health, then all thin people would be healthy, and this is simply not the case.
I've been in a thin body most of my life, but I spent a third of it having migraines, arthritis, and an eating disorder, which is not healthy- no matter what size I was (I talk a lot about my health struggles in my book Body Wisdom).
Health does not equal thinness or weight loss.
Furthermore, when people set out to get healthier by making behavioral and lifestyle changes, some will lose weight and others will not.
That simply means that weight loss can be a symptom or side effect of getting healthier - but it does not signify health in and of itself. For example, people can lose a weight as a result of getting the flu, having cancer, or going through a mental health crisis.
Additionally, people can make healthy behavior changes and not lose weight. They're taught to feel like they are a failure, that they are doing it wrong, and that they're not as healthy as someone who made the same changes but lost weight.
However, it is very well scientifically documented that people of all shapes and sizes can be healthy, just like people of all shapes and sizes can be unhealthy.
It's okay for you to purse health for the sake of health. Weight loss does not have to be part of the equation even if it may or may not be a side effect.
Often, our pursuit of weight loss, especially if you are struggling with a disordered relationship with food, is in opposition to our health (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual).
So the question is - is health really what you want, or are you just pursuing weight loss?
While there is nothing inherently wrong about wanting to lose weight, you have bodily autonomy, but if you're trying to heal your relationship with food, be honest with yourself about what you're motivations are. It could make all the difference in your food freedom journey.
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