Let’s start with the facts. The studies say, excess body fat is associated with multiple obesity related health problems such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as secondary conditions as a knock on effect such as joint problems (from the extra weight being carried and inflammation), sleep problems, and come cancers.
But not all studies are created equal and the HAES group repeatedly pull out evidence that being classed as overweight does not directly lead to negative health consequences, in essence, yes you can be fat and fit.
But it’s not that black and white is it? A slim person who smokes, drinks alcohol and eats junk (albeit not at a total high calorie content, perhaps by also skipping meals or eating small portions) who sits down all day will likely be much less healthy, internally, than someone who on the scales is obese but is very active and eats a balanced nutritious diet, in larger portions.
So there are fat and fit people, slim and unfit, and everything in between. Weight is just one marker of health, and there are many others which determine the over all outcome.
BUT ON AVERAGE (taking into account all the variables and possibilities) carrying excess body fat is associated with an increased likelihood of health problems I don’t mean strong rugby players and body builders who are heavy with muscle, I mean actual body fat, meaning the person has not just a high body weight (BMI) but high body fat percentage too.
Unless your career depends on it and the next thing on your to-do list is an Olympic medal then no, your body, health, food, fitness and recovery do not have to be perfect. In fact they don’t even have to be good, if that’s what you choose; it’s your body after all.
The bit that irks me is the criticism I or you may receive from ‘body acceptance’ parties when we choose to do things which may result in changing our body.
I’m completely in agreement that the Instagram culture of abs, perfect nails and edible flowers on smoothie bowls has got out of control. That is NOT real life, and even the images’ curators don’t live like that. Those images take professional lighting, staging and editing, and they make a living from putting that work in. They workout and get facials daily because they’re paid to. It’s their job. It’s not your job (probably); you don’t have that time and resources available to you.
So it’s a good thing that looking perfect is not a requisite for good health or a happy life. But what if you choose to live a healthy life because you want to?
Are you following some faddy crash diet, starving your body of nutrients and punishing your ‘horrible’ body so that you can look great for one day, wedding, holiday, or just to look great faster? That’s self-hatred, and not how you treat someone you love (someone being, your body).
The day will pass, the diet will become too hard to stick to, and your emotional well-being will suffer.
But if you eat nutritious food because it gives you more energy, choose healthy snacks instead of junk, and eat for fuel and hunger and because your body needs it, (instead of comfort eating when your body doesn’t really need it), then that’s self care.
If you force yourself to endure a horrible workout that you resent but feel guilty if you don’t do because your fat body deserves it, that’s self-hatred.
On the other hand if you are working on building a stronger, fitter, more flexible body that allows you to live a full and happy life, that’s self-love.
Do the steps involved in self-care and self-love; good food, proper fuel, exercising your body to keep it in top shape inside and out, and you’ll very likely experience dramatic body change and weight loss anyway, something I prefer to view as a happy bonus and coincidence rather than the single goal.
Maybe moderation to one person means one small piece of cake a day. Maybe to you it’s more like once a month. Does that mean you’re being overly restrictive? Not if that way of eating genuinely makes you happier in the long run.
Maybe you say no to the 3rd Gin & Tonic, are you a party pooper or are you confident enough without the booze and would prefer not to wake up with a hangover?
Do you visit the hotel gym or go for a swim or walk while the others are lounging by the pool? Not everyone’s idea of fun is sitting doing nothing (and if it is that’s fine too), so why should you be forced into boredom when you’d rather be up and doing something?
If you are happier indulging and relaxing more, that’s absolutely fine. If your life and health and happiness are not suffering for the ‘unhealthy’ decisions you make, then why should you change?
But if you openly choose to eat, exercise and live a certain way because it makes you a happier and healthier person and it improves your life, then don’t let anyone tell you you’re not ‘body positive’, whatever that means.
Body positive is making the choices and living your life in a way that’s positive for you and your life and your body. And if you do want to put edible flowers on your smoothie bowl (they sell them in Waitrose FYI), then that’s fine too 😊
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