Hi! Some people are happy being overweight, and that's okay. But many people don't feel comfortable being overweight, and being overweight/obese can cause a plethora of health problems. (Of course, weight doesn't determine someone's worth as a person.) What can we do to encourage health while still remaining positive about body image? (I hope I don't offend anyone. I post stuff about healthy bodies occasionally, but I want to be sensitive to others and avoid body-shaming.) Thanks!
Hey - I don’t think this is offensive at all. It’s a very valid question, and I think it’s definitely possible to encourage both physical health along with body positivity.
-We need to start seeing body image and physical health as separate entities. You can love your body and celebrate it’s beauty while still wanting to change aspects of your lifestyle to benefit your physical health. Motivation for exercise and healthy eating should come from a place of self-love and caring for oneself, not from a place of sadness and hating one’s body.
- Health and weight are not interchangeable. You can be overweight or obese according to BMI standards and nevertheless healthier than someone in the “normal” BMI range. Eating a healthy diet and being physically active are great things to do for your health, and they aren’t necessarily always reflected by a change in your weight.
-Promoting physical activity for the sake of weight loss is, in my opinion, a mistake for several reasons. Firstly, you can be getting more fit but put on weight due to muscle. Secondly, if someone is being more physically active but not losing weight, they may give up on their exercise plan because they think it’s “not working,” when really exercise has tremendous health benefits independent of weight loss. A similar story is true for nutrition/healthy eating.
If you or anyone else is interested in the health benefits of nutritious eating and physical activity independent of weight loss, you can check out this article I wrote a while back - https://ubcmedicaljournal.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/v7i2-commentaries-2.pdf.
It goes over how a lot of the things people blame on obesity (eg increased risk of heart disease, etc) are actually tied to physical inactivity and not to obesity itself. Happy reading!