Last month included Australia’s healthy weight week, an annual campaign encouraging Aussies to get into the kitchen for more home-cooking, in support for maintaining a healthy weight. This got me thinking about how frequently people tell me they’ve been trying for years to get to a ‘healthy’ weight. But what does a healthy weight even mean?
In honesty, there is no magical weight or BMI (a common measure of how ‘appropriate’ your weight is for your height) that will tell you that you are ‘unhealthy’! The fact is, we have every chance of being healthy at any size or body shape.
Do I hear a gasp?
As explained beautifully by Linda Bacon in the book Body Respect, it’s true that many diseases are common in heavier people, but that doesn’t mean the weight itself causes the condition. Plus many thin people still get obesity-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Research shows that thin but unfit people are at least twice as likely to have poor health that fatter people who are fit. So fitness appears to be a key factor in health, not what you weigh! Other factors like anxiety, low self-esteem, dieting, social isolation etc. can cause stress – which we all know has detrimental effects on our health, and once again is not related to weight. Of course what we eat also impacts how our body is nourished, and some foods do a better job at this than others.
It’s true that not everyone is at a weight optimal for their health. But knowing that health can come at any size is a more compassionate way of motivating yourself to improve your fitness, keep stress low (including through stress-reducing activities) and considering nutrition, rather than be motivated by fear of what your size is.
If you have a history of feeling unhappy about your body size or shape and want to free yourself from the frustration of a weight-focused life, I would love to help you through this. Take a look at my 'No More Dieting' program to learn how I may be able to help.