People who used to follow my old blog will not be surprised at me bringing up a health/wellness topic. But those of you who are new around here, the concept of “being healthy” is something that has been a huge part of my life for the past three years. After losing 80 lbs through eating better, increased activity, and calorie counting- then developing orthorexia and being underweight- THEN recovering and trying to develop a solid sense of self-love- writing a blog about ALL of this- and THEN working as a healthy eating specialist for Whole Foods Market and giving advice to others… I think its safe to say that health has been a major focus of my life for a while now. And I like talking about it because I feel like not enough people do talk about it or even worse, they talk about it but aren’t honest about it. These are some of the big reasons why I wanted to keep “wellness” as a category on this new blog of mine- so that I could still have the space to specifically talk about health.
So today I’m talking about healthiness and weight- or people’s perceptions of the health of other people just through looking at their outside bodies.
A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a customer at work. She was recently diagnosed with PCOS (hormonal disorder) and was stressing out about what to eat because her doctor suggested a paleo-like diet, but she’s a vegetarian (and said she would even be vegan if she could be). If you know anything about the paleo lifestyle, you’ll know that eating animals is a big part of it. I could tell that she really didn’t want advice from me, but she more so wanted to talk to someone who would listen. So I did. She ended up mentioning how tough it is to change the eating habits of her kids and how hard it is to convince them to eat healthy foods.
She said that her young daughter always argues well my swim coach eats junk food and she’s really skinny so why does it matter what I eat. And the woman said she never knows how to respond to that.
I’ve never been a mother but I was immediately flooded with things to say to such an argument. I was like what do you mean you don’t know what to say! Thinness doesn’t equate to good health! Also, you don’t eat foods that are good for you in order to be skinny, you eat them so you can feel good and be well. The high school age swimming coach is thin- despite eating crap food- and this could be true for many reasons- hormones, metabolism, high activity level, input versus output, age, etc. But that doesn’t mean she’s healthy. Or maybe she is healthy- maybe the food your daughter sees the coach eating isn’t “all the time food.” Maybe she balances that junk food well with food cooked from home.
Ugh I just felt SO frustrated. I didn’t say all of what I wrote above to the woman, but I tried to put it all in a lighter way. She sort of brushed off my remarks and changed the subject back to her issues.
In some cases, weight is an indication of health. Usually being overweight or underweight is a sign of poor health. But not always- sometimes there is something bigger going on under the surface (like a disease or autoimmune condition or mental health struggle) and where that person is at weight wise is just what is best for them in that place and time in their life. AND plenty of people can be of a “normal” weight, but be very unhealthy. The outside doesn’t paint a clear picture of what’s going on inside. This woman I was talking to with PCOS- she looked perfectly normal but she had a lot of intense health issues that she was struggling with. I look pretty normal, but I have a lot of hormonal imbalance issues I’m dealing with.
I just wish the conversation, especially for women, wasn’t about how skinny or small they are- but how they feel physically and emotionally. I wish the conversation was about health and what is best for each individual. I wish that’s what we were motivated by as women to take care of ourselves- health and feeling good- not just what size we are. But I know major changes like that are pretty unrealistic.
All I’m asking of anyone reading this is to think before they compare their body to another body or pass judgement on another person’s weight. You really have no idea what is going on underneath their skin or what its like to be that person.
Just keep doing you and doing what’s best for you.